3D Printed Volleyball

Volleyball is my greatest passion. I started playing when I was 11 years old, following in my older brothers’ footsteps. Early in my career, I was a starter on a nationally ranked team and later chosen to play on the youth USA national team (High-Performance A2, Phoenix 2008). We won the gold medal in an international tournament. I continued my journey into being a starter for an NCAA team. Volleyball has allowed me to learn teamwork, experience small doses of fear and failure, quickly take action on it, and keep my mind and body in great shape. I now play competitively in beach volleyball.

I have been fascinated by 3D printing, and I wanted to model and print something meaningful to learn more about the actual practice. A volleyball was an easy choice for my first print. I designed the volleyball using Solidworks.

Update #2

  • Printed the volleyball in black PLA plastic.
  • Painted sections with a red acrylic paint pen

Key Takeaways

  • The raft (support for printing) proved to be a bothersome surface to paint because it was not smooth. 
  • The print looks terrible. We all start badly at something and continually refine until we are show talent and then world class. This print is my reminder of that through the grind of becoming a top performer. 


Update #1

  • I added a curve to each panel to print more like a volleyball and less like a sphere.
  • I printed the volleyball on a Makerbot Replicator 2

Key Takeaways

  • The 1st design I brought in had a thin wall to minimize the amount of material used. An experienced 3D printer showed me how infills worked (honeycomb design that gives strength and minimal use of the material). It didn’t need to redesign a solid feature to save time and material.
  • Longer prints have a higher chance of failing. My 1st print (shown below) failed halfway through its 2-hour print. The feed stopped at one point, and I had to redo my design.

Original Model

  • A volleyball has six sections of 3 panels that are identical but rotated in a different direction. I modeled the section and used the move and copy feature to connect all of them.
  • It is likely I will be using one material and one color for this 3D print. I discovered that there is no depth to distinguish the different colored portions of the volleyball. As shown below, I need to revise to fix this; otherwise, I will be printing a sphere.



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