Where I work we have lots of freelancers and clients working on various productions. Undoubtedly, all of them end up wanting to connect to the WiFi. Working in the Engineering Department we always get asked for the the details. Currently, we have the login details on a piece of paper, but I thought of a better way!
QR codes are great and recently iOS added native support for QR code reading (for Android it varies, some include it by default and others require an app). QR codes natively support WiFi codes and so removes the faff of having to type out the random string of characters that most WiFi passwords are.
Instead of just generating and printing a QR code, I wanted to create something better—more permanent. Recently I’ve been messing around with 3D printers, and so wanted to 3D print a QR code.
For the next stages, I’ll be using Fusion 360 which is my 3D design software of choice, you can download Fusion for free. I will go through the process step by step, so even if you’ve not used Fusion before you can still create your own QR Puck.
Readying the QR Code
In order to create the 3D version of the QR code, you’ll first need to generate a normal one. For this I recommend https://qifi.org/. Fill out your WiFi details then press the ‘Generate!’ button.
After generating your QR code press the ‘Export!’ button, this will give you a .png version of your code. The next step will be to convert this into an .svg which works nicely with Fusion 360. For this I recommend https://image.online-convert.com/convert-to-svg.
Quite a few of the online QR code generators will allow you to export directly as an .svg, unfortunately this isn’t ideal for using in Fusion as it normally exports in a grid–which takes a long time to work within the next stage.
Modelling the QR Code
Now that you’ve got your QR code you can start to model it in 3D! Opening Fusion, the first thing that you’ll need to do is select the dropdown beneath ‘INSERT’ and press ‘Insert SVG’.
This will show three squares in the viewfinder window, move your mouse to match the below image and left-click—this is selecting the plane that you’re going to insert the SVG into.
After pressing it, the camera will rotate around to show the grid from above. Next, click the folder icon next to ‘Select SVG File’, and import the QR code .svg file.
In the same window, you will now have some new options. The only option you’ll want to change here is the ‘Scale Plane XY’ and set this value to 1.4. Then press OK.
Next, you’ll want to add a slight edge to the QR code. To do this select the Line Tool.
Using the Line Tool you’ll want to draw a Line Diagonally from the top right and bottom left away from the QR code with a length of 5mm. To do this precisely:
- Click on the corner of the QR code.
- Press ‘5‘, then press ‘Tab‘.
- Depending on which corner you’re doing, either type ‘45‘ or ‘135‘, then press ‘Enter‘.
Next, select the ‘2-Point Rectangle’ Tool and connect these two points.
This is all the base sketching you need to create your QR code. Now press the ‘Finish Sketch’ button in the top right corner.
For the next stage first press the ‘E‘ key, this opens the extrude menu, left-click on all parts of the QR code that need to be black.
In the extrude menu, set the Distance option to 7mm and press OK. Next, you’ll want to extrude the other parts of the QR code. Before being able to do this, you need to re-open the QR code sketch. To do this:
- Click the dropdown menu next to the Sketches Folder
- Unhide your Sketch (Sketch1) by click on the image of the eye crossed through.
As before, press ‘E‘ to extrude then select all the areas you haven’t already extruded. Before committing to the extrude there are two options you will need to change:
- Change the Distance to 5mm
- Change Operation from ‘New Body‘ to ‘Join‘.
Now you’ve extruded it you’re ready to export it as an .stl. To do this:
- Click the dropdown next to the Bodies Folder.
- Right-click on the Body (Body1), and select ‘Save As STL‘.
- On the window that appears to the right, press OK, and choose where to save your file.
Now you’ve got your file ready to put through your chosen slicer, there are two options for how to go about this:
Option 1: 3D print the whole thing in one colour then lightly paint the surface (black bits) of the QR code. This is so your phone will recognise the pattern.
Option 2: 3D print the solid base of the QR code, then swap out your filament so the extruded parts are a different colour. This is the method I went for but if you’re not sure how, I recently created a short guide describing an easy method for doing this in Cura, which you can find here.
Overall, this project has worked well, and now instead of people coming and needing to read off the assorted jumble of letters and numbers they can just scan the QR code and get on with their day. I’m definitely going to print more of these to use both at work and at home! If you have any questions about the above project, drop a comment below and I’ll happily answer them!
By Sam Brooks
Sam is the founder and editor for Tech Trail. With a background in Broadcast Engineering, and great enthusiasm for smart home and emerging technologies.