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Simple 3D printed, Strobist’s Grid Snoot

A grid snoot is a great light shaper for photographers who want to throw a little light into a tight spot or highlight a select part of a scene, or cast a beam across a surface.

It is a favourite of DIYers and can be hacked together using card, tape and a bundle of drinking straws. In the past I have made snoots using off-cuts of Nomex.

For photographers with access to a 3D printer there is an elegant way to produce a grid snoot that uses the process of slicing a 3D model for printing, to automatically produce the gridded part of the snoot.

Usually 3D models are not printed as solid plastic. It’s wasteful and heavy and takes longer to print. The software engineers who make the applications that turn CAD models into printable files, (Slicers) have implemented ways to fill the interiors or solid sections of designs with latices (infill) that support the external surfaces (shell). Slicing applications allow the user to stipulate the density of this infill and often the shape used to print the infill. You can stipulate in the slicing software that the infill be anywhere from zero percent (hollow) to 100 percent (solid)

The following design for a grid snoot for the Nikon SB900 and SB910 strobes uses this feature of the slicing software to simplify the process. I designed the snoot with the grid section as a “solid” block.

Once imported into the Simplify 3D printer software I manipulated the slicing settings so that the software does the heavy lifting to produce the grid automatically. This is also possible in other 3D slicing software.

First, I arranged the model on the print bed in the correct orientation.

Then using the advanced settings I set the infill pattern and density. In this case Full Honeycomb at 10%.

Then set the Top Solid Layers and Bottom Solid Layers both to zero so that the top and bottom surfaces of the model won’t be printed at all. This is what makes the lattice open at the ends.

By setting the wall thickness to four shells the flange’s inner and outer shells join in the middle so we get a model that is solid where it needs to be, around the mount where the snoot fits over the flash, but honey combed through the boxed in section of the design to produce the grid.

By setting the infill to different percentages you get a tighter or looser lattice and so a tighter or more open light spread. One quite simple CAD file then becomes any number of different gridded snoots. Best settings seem to be in the 10 to 15 percent infill range. Ten percent is around the size of a drinking straw. 20 percent gives a tighter beam.

The Simplify 3D Slicing Software also allows the user to specify alternative shapes for the infill, such as diamond or Triangle. The STL file for the SB900 / 910 snoot is available for US$5 from my design store.


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