How I Made My Own Low Budget Nanoleaf Lights

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Dan Ackerman / CNET

Love the Nanoleaf lights, the smart color changing and tactile wall light panels. But they are expensive. A starter pack of the latest version, Nanoleaf Lines, costs $ 200. I have Nanoleaf Canvas lights, the square ones, and I think they’re awesome – I use them for the background of some of my product photos.

But I also thought there must be a way to create something similar myself, using a 3D printer and individual smart lights. I turned to Thingiverse, the default repository for 3D printing files and found plenty of models of panels, connectors, and accessories to augment your existing Nanoleaf setup or replace it with something made up. House.

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Yes, I also made the desk with reclaimed wood.

I started with a simple hexagonal design and wanted to incorporate a smart LED light strip. In this case, I used an 80-inch GE light strip, which typically costs around $ 40, but bought it for $ 22 on Prime Day (I’ve seen it on sale other times as well).

Of course, my design was going to have limits. Nanoleaf lamps are tactile, can react to music and can vary their color panel by panel. My light strip could be controlled by an app or via Alexa by voice, and it could change colors, but that was about it.

This is the design I started with, which was published on Thingiverse. I then took the model and imported it into a 3D program, where I created a new version with larger openings on the side for my GE strip to pass through. Here is the file of my updated version.

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I uploaded my remixed design to Thingiverse.

Dan Ackerman / CNET

To match my 80 inch light strip, I printed five hexagons, each of which took about 3 hours to print. The front panels were also 3D printed, using a thin layer of white filament, so the end result was semi-translucent and light colored lights shone through. Each top panel took about an hour to print.

But, in my initial build, I wasn’t happy with how the 3D printed top panels looked. They weren’t smooth enough and let light through unevenly. So I went back and made panels of exactly the same size out of 3mm translucent acrylic, using a laser cutter. If you only have a 3D printer, these panels will work, but you may have to play with your 3D printer settings to get the correct thickness.

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The underside of the panels, with the light strip threaded.

Dan Ackerman / CNET

The panels were assembled and attached to each other with regular super glue, and I threaded the light strip through them, securing it to the interior walls with a simple hot glue gun. Once they were assembled, I hung the final product on a wall and ran the cable from the light strip to a socket.

My homemade version isn’t as stylish or functional as the real Nanoleaf lights, but I love putting my own versions of things together and it was great to build something that is both functional and aesthetic at the same time.

Is it really cheaper than just buying ready-made smart light panels? It depends on how you look at it. The material cost was less than $ 50, but that’s if you already have a 3D printer. If you don’t, it will cost you more than a Nanoleaf Starter Pack, although the 3D printer and PLA filament spool you will need will last well beyond this project.

Here is my shopping list of the exact parts I used, but other light strips and other 3D printer filaments will work as well. For printing, I used an Anycubic Vyper 3D printer, which costs $ 429, but is a great beginner-friendly printer with a large print area.

Read more: The best 3D printers for 2021

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