Two custom 3D printed rotating desk lamps on top of a desk with tools and containers.
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For a while I have wanted to improve the lighting on my desk. I didn’t really know what to build until I came across Opossums’ amazing 3D printed LED bridge lamp on Thingiverse. The lamp has a great design and I wanted to build it, but for my application I needed to make some modifications.

I use an L-shaped desk and when necessary I would like to be able to illuminate the small extension of the desk. To solve this, I designed and 3D printed a base that allows the LED strips to be rotated towards the part of the desk that I want lit.

Exploded view of a 3D model of a rotating base for a 3D printed desk lamp.
The rotating base.
An animation of a rotating desk lamp being rotated back and forth by a hand.
The lamp in action.

In this article, I will show you how to build the 3D printed rotating lamp yourself.

How does the rotating base work?

The base contains a 3D printed thrust bearing that allows the top platform with the LED bridge on it to rotate. All components of the base are 3D printable, except for the 10mm steel ball bearings that are used for the thrust bearing and the three M5x30 bolts+washers that hold the assembly together.

How does the lamp attach to the desk/table/etc?

You can attach the lamp to any flat surface by using three screws in the designated screw holes, or by sticking double sided tape on the bottom of the base.

How far does the lamp rotate?

The base gives the lamp 100° of rotation.

How to build the 3D printed rotating lamp

What you’ll need

Part icon Parts
M5*30 Bolt
x 3
M5 Washer
x 3
uxcell 10mm Precision Chrome Steel Bearing Balls G25 30pcs
22 Reviews
x 8
Tenmiro 65.6ft Led Strip Lights, Ultra Long RGB 5050 Color Changing LED...
About 13cm / 5 inch per curved segment
Gorilla Super Glue Gel, 20 Gram, Clear, (Pack of 1)
43,489 Reviews
AUSTOR 60-40 Tin Lead Rosin Core Solder Wire for Electrical Soldering...
1,632 Reviews
3D print icon 3D Printed Parts
Base
x 1
Bearing Cage
x 1
Top Plate
x 1
Clip
x 3
Strain Relief
x 1
I used 4 curved segments per lamp, but you can pick a different number
x ?

Preparing the components

Top view of a collection of mostly 3D printed parts that are required for building a rotating base for a 3D printed desk lamp.
This picture shows all the required parts, except for the three small clips. Before starting, I already glued the four curved segments together with super glue.
A drill drilling into a white 3D printed component that is being held by a hand on top of a wooden desk surface.
Drill out the built-in support of the three holes for the M5 bolts with a 4mm drill bit.
A hand holding a M5 threaded tap that is being used to tap thread in a hole in a white 3D printed component that is held by another hand.
Thread the three holes all the way through with the M5 thread tap.
A 3D printed thrust bearing consisting out of a 3D printed bearing cage and metal ball bearings.
Press the 10mm ball bearings into the bearing cage. This will take some force if you printed the bearing cage with the right settings. Once inserted however, the ball bearings should rotate freely.
Top view of a hand holding a black WS2812B LED strip while another hand applies super glue from a bottle on the back of the LED strip.
Stick the LED strips to the curved segments. I simply use add super glue to the back of the LED strips. In my experience, the standard LED strip adhesive backing usually does not hold for very long on PLA.

Gluing components into place

Two white 3D printed components of a rotating desk lamp on top of a desk. One of the components has LED strips attached with wires extending from their terminals.
Insert the wires of the LED strips through the top plate. Make sure that the circular groove on the top plate for the ball bearings is facing downwards.
A hand holding a bottle of super glue and applying super glue to a white plastic component.
Apply super glue to the bottom of the curved segment stack.
An assembly of white 3D printed parts that makes up the base of a rotating desk lamp.
Insert the three small clips in the thin slots on the top plate. This will help align and center the curved segment stack while the super glue dries.
A hand holding a 3D printed strain relief component in front of an assembly of parts from a white desk lamp with wires extending out of it.
The strain relief component is optional but recommended to prevent strain on the solder joints of the LED strip(s). It has space for a resistor and an electrolytic decoupling capacitor when using it with WS2812B or similar LED strips.
A hand holding a 3D printed white strain relief component in front of a white plastic part with wires extending from it.
The bottom of the strain relief component has channels for the leads of the LED strip(s) and for the wires that lead to the optional resistor and capacitor.
A hand holding a white plastic component while a hot glue gun squirts hot glue on the component.
Apply hot glue to the back of the strain relief component.
Two hands pressing a white strain relief component in place on a different white plastic component while glue dries.
Place the strain relief component over the wires that come from the LED strip(s). The two loose leads (red/white) on the left of the picture are extra + and – leads which I will cut off later.

Wiring

A hand inserting wires through an empty channel in an assembly of parts from a custom 3D printed desk lamp.
Insert the wires from the power supply through the middle channel of the strain relief.
An electrolytic capacitor and resistor with heat shrunk soldering joints hot glued into place on a 3D printed white assembly.
If you use a WS2812B LED strip, solder a 470 Ohm resistor in front of its data pin, and a 1000uF capacitor across the +5V and ground. Then heat shrink the resistor leads and hot glue them into place on the strain relief.
A hand inserting wires through a white 3D printed thrust bearing with in the background a white 3D printed desk lamp.
Insert all the wires through the bearing cage.
A hand inserting cables through a hole in a 3D printed component for a desk lamp.
Guide the wires through the hole in the rear leg of the base.
A hand holding a white component up so that the path that wires take through a 3D printed thrust bearing is clearly visible.
An overview of the wire path.

Final assembly

Two hands assembling the base, bearing cage and LED segment stack of a desk lamp by placing them on top of each other.
Stack everything on top of each other. Make sure that the wires have some slack inside the base so that they do not pull on anything when the LED strips rotate.
A hand holding a socket wrench that is being used to tighten a stainless steel M5 bolt on a white desk lamp assembly.
Thread a M5x30 bolt with washer into the base. Make sure not to tighten the bolt all the way. The top needs to rotate freely.
A hand holding a socket wrench that is being used to tighten a stainless steel M5 bolt on a white desk lamp assembly while another hand holds the assembly in place.
Repeat the previous step for the other two M5 bolts and washers.

After this you can hook the LED strips up to a power supply or to the control electronics that you plan to use for the lamp.

An animation of a rotating desk lamp being rotated back and forth by a hand.
The base in action after securing it to the desk and connecting one of the LED strips to a power supply.
A workbench with two 3D printed rotatable desk lamps.
The work bench after building and installing a second rotating lamp.
An exploded view diagram with BOM of a 3D printed desk lamp.
An exploded view of the assembly.

Conclusion

The lamps work exactly as intended and I am happy with the result. I had some concerns beforehand about how the smooth the 3D printed smooth bearing would be, but it works very well.

2 thoughts on “3D Printed Rotating Desk Lamps”

  1. Hi Tim. Thanks for the nice solution. I always have this problem with the tape on the LED strips and your article helped me fix it.

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