Have you always wanted a fancy designer handbag? Don’t have the thousands of dollars to spend on a Chanel® or Louis Vuitton®? Here is the solution – 3D print your own! And by doing so, you can make it exactly as you want!
I bought dozens of fancy (and too expensive) designer handbags, but never found one I loved. There was always something I didn’t like. After being disappointed too many times, I simply designed my own in CAD (Computer Aided Design) and 3D printed it! A also installed LED lights in it, because I was tired of never finding the keys when I came home in the evening.
Don’t just dream about it. Make it!
Download and print your own handbag – right here!
I am in the process of writing detailed tutorials how to print and assemble the handbag, but if you are a bit experienced in 3D printing I am sure you can do it without the fully detailed instructions. You can download the “clutch” sized handbag for free below. The larger sizes (including the one on the cover photo that fits an iPad Pro) will soon be available for download at a nominal cost (just a few dollars per design).
Click HERE to download the STL files for the Clutch handbag. It is a ZIP folder. To open it, first download it to your computer, then right-click and select Extract All.
Material: My favorite material is toughened PLA (also called PLA+ or PLA PRO). It is bio-based (made from corn starch) and prints beautifully. It is a strong and rugged material, the only drawback is the relatively low softening temperature; if you choose this material, don’t leave the bag in a hot car during the summer, it may become deformed.
I print PLA+ with 220°C nozzle temperature and 60°C bed temperature.
Layer height: Any. I typically print with 0.2 mm layer height, but thicker layers will cut down the print time.
Infill: 100 % for the body. Your choice for all the other parts. The more infill, the heavier (but stronger) the bag will be. Use several outer wall layers for the lids to make sure the hinges become strong enough. More detailed settings for the strap parts below.
Brim: Yes for the body (at least 10 lines). No for the lid parts. Recommended for the strap scales, as they may not stay on the bed without them.
Print time: Depends on your printer, but expect several days of total printing time.
Other parts you need:
Screws: 2x M4 10 mm long (for the strap swivel), 8x M3 6 mm long (2x for the logo, 4x for the strap, 2x for the LED light). Plated steel or stainless steel. You could probably use aluminium screws as well, but I haven’t tried it.
Synthetic webbing: 20 mm wide and ~1.1 mm thick synthetic, woven webbing. (More information in the section about the strap assembly.)
Steel wire: ~35 cm (1 ft) of #18 gauge or 1.6 mm galvanized steel wire or stainless steel wire for the hinges. Can be bought in most hardware stores, farming stores, or well-stocked department stores.
Tiny bit of glue: You need to put a little bit of glue (silicone, polyurethane, or other glue) in the ends of the hinges, otherwise the steel wire will walk out over time and snag on your clothing.
Soldering iron: You need a soldering iron with a pointy tip to make the holes in the strap for the screws. If you try to assemble strap without making holes, you will strip out the threads in the holes and the whole thing will fall apart. You will also need the soldering iron and solder to assemble the LED light.
Tools: Wire cutter, screw driver, tools to clean the 3D print, lighter to melt the end of the strap, sharp pair of scissors, ultra-fine point marker pen with white, silver, gold or other color that will write on black. White correction fluid will also work.
LED strip: LED strip for ~6V (do not use a 12 V strip, it will likely not work). Waterproof (with soft rubber upper), approximately 8 mm wide. This model of bag takes ~110 mm, but most LED strips can be cut. Comes in all different colours, including pink and purple.
Batteries: 2x CR2016 coin battery cell.
Wire: ~200 mm of thin electric wire.
Mounting tape: To stick the LED strip to the side of the bag.
Safety equipment: Safety glasses.
Making the strap:
The strap is the most difficult part to assemble. If you have printed the parts and trying to assemble it before I have published the detailed tutorial, contact me and I will guide you through the assembly. Below are photos of the process of assembling the strap.
The bag strap is designed to be assembled around a 20 mm wide and ~1.1 mm thick synthetic, woven webbing. These kinds of webbing are common, and can easily be bought on AliExpress, eBay, and many other online stores and physical stores. You can sometimes also find them on backpacks, dog leashes, or other products that contain webbing.
Here is a link to the strap that I bought from AliExpress: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Multi-color-50-Yards-Roll-20mm-Webbing-Belt-Buckle-Strap-Nylon-Backpack-Garment-Sewing-Ribbon-DIY/32871450526.html
I call the pieces that surround the webbing for “scales”, because they kind of connect together like the scales on a fish or other animal. There are six different kind of scales needed for the strap, plus the end button and the swivel. You can vary the length of the strap by varying the number of different scales.
The strap parts are names A through H. In the figure below, the different parts are colour coded.
Decide the length of the strap:
The number of D, G, and H pieces will determine the length the strap. I found that 20 D-scales (10 on each side), 10 H-scales, and 9-G-scales makes the correct length for a cross-body strap for me (I am 5’2″/158 cm). In addition to that, you will need 2x of A, 2x of B, 2x of C, 1x of E, and 1x F, as well as one “Hole jig”.
Printer settings for the scale pieces:
The strap pieces need to be printed in the following orientations:
Part A (end button) (2x):
Make sure the counterbore (the indentation where the screw head will rest) is pointing upwards. Brim is not needed, but skirt is recommended.
Part B (swivel) (2x):
Must lay flat on the surface pointed about by the arrow.
Incorrect printing orientation:
Correct printing orientation accomplished by using the “lay flat” command.
Watch out for this orientation – it is a possible orientation if you use the Cura lay flat command. If this happens – the easiest may be to clear the bed, import the part again, and try again.
Use the “Layer view” to ensure it lays flat; you can see the brim correctly around the bottom surface.
The correct orientation is also clearly visible from underneath.
Note: You may want to print one of the swivels as a mirror copy. This way you have both swivels show the top printed surface (or the bottom printed surface) towards the front of the bag. If you don’t mirror one of the swivels, one will show the top surface and one will show the bottom surface on the front of the bag.
If you use Cura, select one of the two parts, and click the Mirror command. Then choose the X or Y direction.
Note that the swivel (and the End button – Part A) should be printed with much thicker walls and heaver infill than the other parts as they carry the entire mass of the handbag and its contents. See the table for suggested settings.
Part C (start strap scale) (2x):
Part D (angled scale) (any even number):
Part E (Connection scale) (1x):
Note that there are two different types of connecting scales (Part E and Part F) – you will need one of each. Part E has a concave (female) shape on both ends, while part F has a concave (female) shape on the angled side, but a convex (male) shape on the straight end.
Part F (Connecting scale) (1x):
Part G (straight scale, 30 mm):
Note that there are two varieties of this part – with or without “hump”. You can see both styles below. Which one you want to use is totally up to you. I usually use the “hump” version.
Part H (straight scale, 10 mm):
Assembling the strap:
Lay out all the pieces you want in the strap. Push them together closely.
Cut the webbing ~15-20 cm longer than the total length of the strap pieces.
Cut the end at an angle like below. Use a lighter or candle and melt the edge so it doesn’t fray. If you are careful, you can quickly push the melted edge flat with wet fingers, but it is easy to burn yourself!
If needed, trim the other edge of the webbing so it is perfectly straight. Melt that edge of the webbing as well.
Fold it over on itself, and push it into the swivel. Make sure the cut edge is towards the back, as shown in the photo. The webbing should just be visible in large round hole. The webbing edge should be right at the edge of the swivel.
Use a white-out marker, a silver pen, or other pen or paint that can write on your webbing of choice and mark the two screw holes and the edge of the wedding in the large round hole.
Pull the webbing out of the swivel. Push it into the webbing jig. Make holes with the soldering iron. Take out the strap from the jig, and finish the holes. Use wet fingers (but be careful so you don’t burn yourself!) or another suitable tool to push on the melted plastics to make a solid “disc” of plastic around the hole.
Insert the screws. Push relatively hard when you screw them in – you are using the screw to make the threads! However, if it doesn’t go in correct – don’t force it! The hole in strap is likely not perfectly aligned with the hole. Use a sharp object to align the holes, then insert the screw again.
When the strap swivel is done, add the other scales to the strap, including the other swivel end. Push then tightly together. Then bend the strap and move it as it would when you are using the bag. Let the scales and swivel slide into a position where the want to be.
Hold the second swivel and the strap in a firm grip, then push the scales back together, keeping the swivel in the same position. There should be ~10 mm gap between the swivel and the first scale. Mark the holes and the place where the strap should be folded with the white correction fluid or silver/gold pen. Take out the strap, fold it over and insert it back in the swivel.
If the swivel seems to have moved, just push the scaled back together and repeat. It is important that you get just the right amount of extra strap. If you make the strap too short, it won’t bend (or the scales will break). If you make the strap too long, the scales will bunch together and there will be naked webbing showing.
Cut the strap to correct length, and then repeat the procedure of melting the end, making the holes, and assembling the swivel end.
Assembling the bag:
Assembling the LED light: