Chemical Drink Coasters

3D printing the compound diagram of caffeine to use as a drinks coaster was one of the hot trends of 2019/2020. But caffeine isn’t the only compound lending itself to this application. Any compound with a ring structure is ideal, but a number of specific compounds can be readily made into coasters. This lesson challenges students to calculate the products of a reaction before choosing something suitable for modelling as a coaster. 
Design and TechnologyComputingScienceMathematics
Years | Grades
7th Grade | 11-12 years8th Grade | 12-13 years9th Grade | 13-14 years10th Grade | 14-15 years11th Grade | 15-16 years
Lesson 1: 90 minutes Print Time: 2 hours

Chemical coasters trailer
Play 0:47


  • Design and measure with precision 
  • Demonstrate how to align objects 
  • Employ tolerances and offsets 
  • Understand and execute Boolean operations in CAD 
  • Learn about elements and compounds, then demonstrate your knowledge by creating a diagram of your chosen compound 
  • Demonstrate your ability to calculate the products of a reaction when given the reagents (High Difficulty variant only) 
  • Create a 3D model of your chosen compound diagram optimised for use as a drinks coaster 

Tools and equipment

  • Paper and pen 
  • Calculator 
  • Access to a periodic table 
  • Internet access 
  • Molecular ball and stick models (if available – optional) 
  • Examples of common compounds (if available – optional) 
    • Coffee – Caffeine 

    • Chocolate – Thebromine 

    • PVA Glue – Polyvinyl Acetate 

    • Table Salt – Sodium Chloride 

    • Water – Dihydrogen Monoxide 

    • Dry ice – Carbon Dioxide 


Skill requirements

To participate in the lesson, students should be able to:
  • Use TinkerCAD, Fusion 360 or Similar CAD software at an intermediate level 
  • Comfortably use DeeControl2 software including adjusting print settings 
  • Use the BE3D EDEE 3D printer 

Chemical Coasters walkthrough
Locked Play 6:29

3D models overview

  • Total print time 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Total filament 8.6 m
  • Additional non-printable components
  • Printed all at once
  • 50 minutes
  • 1.82 m
  • 1 hour 15 minutes
  • 2.24 m
  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • 3.02 m
Note: Values are calculated for one set of models.

Lesson resources

  • Lesson plan 
  • Example models 
  • Worksheet 
  • Walkthrough 
  • Presentation 
  • 3D models 
  • 3D Print instructions 
  • Curriculum alignment