May 2, 2015 | By Simon

When it comes to the many benefits of 3D printing, it’s hard to not think about our four-legged friends.  In addition to being a functional and economical way for creating one-of-a-kind custom prosthetic devices for a wide range of body types and sizes, 3D printing has allowed Makers to get creative with some projects that invite their pets in to share the fun.

Among other projects we’ve seen include the Odin dog toy - a geometric treat-finding activity toy which was designed to be aesthetically-considered for humans, the 3D printed Leash Mate - a two-part ball that clips on to any part of a leash to give the owner better control of their four-legged friend and finally, the “Dog’s Game3D printable activity game by Spanish designer Empezando Diseño, which is designed to help spur canine intelligence.

Now, for Makers who travel a lot or work long hours, a new project that utilizes 3D printing aims to help make feeding your pets a completely automated experience.  

The “3D Printed Automatic Pet Feeder” project, which was uploaded by Instructables user Mark Bissey, was created during the Makecourse at the University of South Florida.  

Aside from having the ability to be completely customized and made at home, other benefits of the design include the ability to dispense exactly one cup of food at each interval - which makes it easier to gauge food intake over other open-close style feeders.  

With this in mind, the project was designed to dispense dry kibble in one cup increments at two times during a 24 hour period.  The feeding times and number of increments can easily be adjusted depending on the size and type of dog, however the cup size (as designed) can not change from one cup.  Additionally, a “Feed Now” feature was implemented for training purposes.

“I firmly believe for obedience training dogs should work for their food. So if you catch the timer before it goes off you can make your dog do a trick or two and feed them manually,” said Bissey.  

“If you forget or miss it, that's okay too- they won't go hungry.”

To begin the project, seven 3D printed parts are needed - which Bissey has generously supplied with an attached ZIP file on the Instructables page.  In total, these seven parts include the housing, a top funnel, an internal funnel, a bottom funnel, a cylinder and two caps.  

In addition to the 3D printed components other parts are necessary to bring the whole project together.  These include an Arduino Uno R3, a stepper motor, a touch sensor, an SPDT switch, a 10K Ohm resistor and others - which are all listed on the Instructables page.  

Once the parts have been sourced, the bulk of the work is in assembling the electronic components and subsequently, programming the Arduino - the seven simple 3D printed parts that make up the housing and internals fit together relatively easily.

Thankfully, just like the 3D printed files, Bissey has supplied the necessary code libraries so that users can program the device quickly and easily.  The one variable in the code that will likely be changed by the user is the rate of the feeding cycle.

Finally, after the entire system and electronic components have been tested for usability, the entire assembly is able to be mounted via a U-bracket on the wall by adding an L-bracket to the feeder.  This subtle feature makes it easy for users to add new food as needed - just make sure that it’s attached to the wall well!



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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