Custom Threaded Inserts for 3D Printing

There’s a variety of ways to add threaded holes to 3D printed objects. You can tap a hole, but the plastic isn’t always strong enough. Nut traps work, but aren’t very attractive and can be difficult to get exactly the right size. If you try to enclose them, you have to add a manual step to your printing process, too. You can buy threaded inserts (see video below) but that means some other piece of hardware to have to stock in your shop.

[PeterM13] had a different idea: Cut a piece of threaded stock, put nuts on the end and heat it up to let the nuts reform the plastic. This way the nut traps wind up the perfect size by definition. He used two nuts aligned and secured with thread locker. Then he used a hot air gun to only heat the metal (so as to reduce the chance of deforming the actual part). Once it was hot (about 15 seconds) he pulled the nuts into the open hole, where it melted the plastic which grips the nuts once cooled again.

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Tripod Mount Anything!


[Shawn] wrote in to tell us about his extremely simple method he used for mounting a webcam on a tripod. His article explains it better, but the basic premise is to glue a 1/4 – 20 nut onto the bottom of it. The hack-worthiness of this could be in question, but the technique could come in handy at some point.

After seeing this tip, I was reminded of a slightly crazier, if effective mount that I made for my state of the art Env2 phone. Referenced in a links post in March, it was made of a 2×4 with a 1/2 inch slot milled in it.  After some thought, it was drilled and tapped for a 1/4 – 20 bolt in the other side to mount it on a tripod. So this could be an option in very limited circumstances.

On the other hand, if you want something a bit more hack-worthy, why not check out this motorized camera rig that we featured in July. Sure, it’s more complicated than gluing a nut onto a webcam, but at least it still uses 2 x 4s in it’s mounting hardware!

Drilling perfectly centered holes

If you’ve ever been caught in the situation of needing to drill a clean straight hole down the center of a bolt or rod, you’ve probably tried and ended up with a broken bit or tilted hole, and a ton of cursing to boot.

[Vik] let us know about this nifty trick for drilling ‘down the middle’ using a simple hobby drill press and vice. He claims it’s ‘physics guiding the bit’ but in reality its just crafty use of a chuck. Either way the quick trick works, and will hopefully save a lot of hackers some headaches in the future.

Let us know in the comments if you have any simple quick tips that you use when you’re out in the shop.