Custom Desk Bracket Design

When testing out a new standup desk, I quickly discovered three things about the design that needed improvement.

  1. The tray offset height needed to increase
  2. Line of sight to keyboard needed to improve
  3. Width of the tray needed to increase.

First on the list was the biggest problem, the new offset to the tray was too tall for my 9” custom monitor stands and not enough for using the platform with no stands.  Designing new tray brackets would allow me to correct all three problems. I had some fun with the design and leveraged a new topology study to identify where I could remove material to cut cost.  I was able to maintain performance and reduce material 31%.  Let’s take a look at the process.


Taking a few measurements, I determined that I wanted to lower the tray height 3”.  I also saw the opportunity to make the tray wider by adjusting the width of the brackets.  I liked the angled profile of the existing design so I measured and kept that overall shape.

With some measurements and a basic plan taking shape I jumped right into SOLIDWORKS.


I started with a sheet metal feature to quickly get the shape with a consistent wall thickness and smooth bends.  I trimmed away the side profile shape, then added some additional jogs for style and strength.  I added an additional platform to the left bracket for a little extra tray space where the keyboard sits.  I wanted to keep deflection low so I added some support ribs and began simulating how it would perform.  First pass results showed this was a bit over-designed so I knew I had plenty of opportunity to reduce cost.

But where could I safely remove material?  I didn’t just want to reduce the overall material thickness and risk having too much deflection.

Topology Study:

Running the study was simple, I literally just copied over the restraints and loads from my static study and selected my goal to reduce weight and keep similar deflection.

The results showed me exactly where I could remove material.

I saved the results as a graphics body overlay and used them as a guide to precisely carve away styled openings, leaving angle supports and even added in a logo.

I went through a few iterations removing more material each time.

Ultimately, I was able to remove 31% of the material and maintain just a few mm of deflection (3.2mm compared to the initial 4.5mm).  I reran the static study to verify strength and was then ready to confidently model the opposite side.

Having a clear picture of the final design, I further improved the modeling technique used, ran the topology study to confirm areas to remove material, and then validated with a static study.

With both brackets modeled, I was ready to assemble.

Finishing Touches:

Placing into an assembly allowed me to verify my dimensions and really visualize what the finished product would look like.  I even created a quick visualize rendering with a photo backplate.

I really liked the look but ended up needing to adjust some hole spacing slightly and then confirmed all of the overall dimensions for fit within the frame.

I’m really glad I spent the extra few minutes here so I could get this right on the first build.

3D Printing:

Using integrated 3d printing tools, I setup the build platform.

The parts were sent to the HP Multi Jet Fusion and finished the next morning.  While removing the powder, which leaves a white finish on the parts, I graphite blasted them for a nice grey finish.

Once complete I was ready to test out the new design.

Completing the Project:

Assembly only took a few minutes and the parts fit perfectly the first time.  I couldn’t be happier with this new customized adjustable height desk.  The tray is strong, sits at the perfect height, has an extra 2” of width and custom logos!

By: Mike Staples • Elite Application Engineer • TPM

TPM, Inc. is the Carolina’s largest 3D CAD provider and a leading technology company proud of its reputation of providing cutting-edge solutions to the engineering and design community for the past 40 years. Founded in 1973, TPM Inc. serves more than 3,000 customers across the Southeast each year. Inspired by our founder, Jerry Cooper, we are committed to offering our clients the best: 3D Design Software, 3D Printing and Scanning Options, Data and Document Management Solutions, Large-Format Graphics, Wide-Format Plotters and Office Equipment, and Reprographics.