The Magic of 3D Printing – Making Filter Holders with a Cool Printer

The concept of printing actual objects is fascinating. Something that would be otherwise impossible to find or buy might now be possible to create with your home printer.

A future of printing our own solutions to meet our workflow needs is very exciting. Printing your own ideas introduces a market that eliminates factory production costs. Instead of manufacturers producing inventory, followed by packaging and shipping it all around the world to only sit in warehouses or on store shelves, in theory, they could just provide a blueprint file that you give your printer at home. Especially useful for simple replacement parts but maybe even a complete house or a prosthesis arm.

Like all new technologies, it’s still not perfect and has room for improvements but it is however going to be very interesting as the technology becomes more accessible to everyone.

Here’s Where 3D Printers Relate to Camera Gear

With the use of a 3D printer (Stratasys Object 30Pro), 3DPideas has designed an adapter for use with Cokin or Lee filter holders that I believe is brilliant and a problem solver to how I wish to use filters.

3D Printed Adapters for Cokin and Lee Filter Holders

3D Printed Adapters for Cokin and Lee Filter Holders

I personally prefer to use a screw in 77mm polarizer filter on the front of my lens and, if I want additional filters, I screw the filter holder onto the front of that polarizer.

This creates two problems. The first is vignette because of the extra extension the polarizer creates from the lens and the second is the added challenge of rotating the polarizer independently to the holder. It has worked for me but can be frustrating on many levels.

The Cokin-Z holder works best with sprocket filters (watch Darwin in this video) and proper management of light leak. The Lee alternative requires the purchase of a large 105mm filter. My shooting habits do not match either intended use because both require the large filter holder to use the polarizer.

What 3DPideas has created and printed is an adapter ring that attaches to the hood mount of your lens. It allows me to shoot all day with the polarizer and lens hood but when I want to use an ND filter, I can replace the hood with the filter holder. It has no frustrating screw in threads and it keeps my polarizer rotating independently free. Most importantly, I don’t have to buy a new expensive polarizing filter for a holder I only want to use on occasion.

My initial tests of the adapter proved to be very sturdy and strong enough to endure daily use. However printing materials are still new and while this product continues to be improved and refined, expectations of this rubber-like plastic should be reasonable.

It is available for both Lee and Cokin with 2 very important things to consider: it will not fit all lenses and requires using a slim profile polarizer.

It will take the next couple months to really judge how the material holds up but so far, I really like it. Designing and printing your own solutions to specific problems opens a new door on creativity that can only get better. A+ for thinking outside and beyond manufacture limitations.

About the Author

I am a designer, artist and photographer living in PEI and the co-creator of the Photographer's Guide to Prince Edward Island. I have helped design this website and the many oopoomoo ebooks. Stop by and say hi on Facebook.

6 Comments

  1. Brian Benaissa
    April 26, 2014

    This is amazing! Are you selling these custom ring adapters!

    Is there a ring for Nikon…16-35 f4 lens specifically?

    Thanks

    Brian

    Reply
    • Stephen DesRoches
      April 26, 2014

      We are not selling them but you can contact 3D printed ideas to find out if they can print something for a Nikon lens. It looks like they are currently experimenting with Canon and Tokina.

  2. Cal Towle
    April 26, 2014

    Stephen:
    The 105mm Lee polarizer only works down to about 24mm before . Ok but not so good for wide landscapes. I have not tried putting the Lee holder on a 77mm polarizer. More things to play at. I’ve followed the developement of 3D printers and this is a nice application i.e. one I could actually use.
    Cal

    Reply
    • Stephen DesRoches
      April 27, 2014

      Good to know about 24mm.

      I have not personally used a 3D printer yet but I can think of some actual use cases. We recently had replacement caps “printed” for our adjustable desk at the office too.

  3. Tom
    April 28, 2014

    Thanks for the tip Stephen! I just placed my order for one of these! I recently upgraded my filter system to the Cokin Z-Pro size and cringed at the cost of the Singh-Ray Z-Pro sprocket polarizer – $475!! I’ve wanted to order the filter for some time now but I can’t get past the price of it. I mean seriously! Why does the Z-Pro Singh Ray filter cost almost $200 more than the Cokin P Singh Ray sprocket polarizer? It’s not that much bigger…
    I ordered the C88CZ UW adapter so hopefully it will fit on my Canon 24mm ts-e II lens. They don’t mention this particular lens but it uses a size 88 bayonet lens hood so it should fit.

    Reply
    • Stephen DesRoches
      April 28, 2014

      I’m not sure why they cost what they do. The sprocket for cokin or 105mm for lee are similarly priced but the cost is also the reason I don’t own one. Hopefully the hood mount will fit your lens and that your current polarizer has a profile of 5mm or smaller.

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