3D Printed Magnetic Dust Port Keeps Shop Clean

Too often we hear that 3D printing is at best only a way for making prototypes before you invest in “real” manufacturing. At worst, it’s a way to make little toys for your desk or cubicle. The detractors say that 3D printing doesn’t lend itself to building practical devices, and even if you do manage to print something useful, you probably could have made it faster or better with more traditional manufacturing methods. So naturally we’re especially excited when we see a printed design that manages to buck both criticisms at once.

Not only does this magnetic dust port connector created by [Taylor Landry] have a clear practical purpose, but its design largely defies normal construction techniques. It consists of two flanges, sized for common 4″ flexible ducting, which feature embedded magnets on the faces.

This allows the two sides of the coupling to easily be connected and disconnected without relying on threads or a friction fit. Not only would threads likely get caked with sawdust, but the magnetic connection allows the coupling to release in the event somebody trips on the duct or the tool is moved.

Currently only one type of coupling is available, but [Taylor] says he’s looking at adapting the design to other tools. He also mentions that the magnets he’s currently using are a custom size he had left over from a previous project, so if you’re looking to replicate the design you might need to tweak the magnet openings. Luckily, he’s provided the STEP files so you don’t have to hack the STL.

A quick connect dust port like the one [Taylor] has come up with seems like it would be a perfect addition to the whole-shop dust collection systems we’ve covered in the past. In fact, it might not even be the only 3D printed component in the system.

33 thoughts on “3D Printed Magnetic Dust Port Keeps Shop Clean

  1. Seeing as there is already a commercial variant of this available as a dryer duct connector, it might be prudent to follow their design to possibly make the compatible.

    Just a thought on not reinventing the wheel.

    1. I discovered MagPort after posting mine to reddit. Also, I wanted my port to be on the side of the saw, not up and under where the stock hood connection is.
      I would definitely encourage anyone to look at MagPort first. They look very nice, and they would likely be cheaper than buying magnets, and banging out a couple prototypes to get yours dialed in. Magnets aren’t cheap.

      1. “magnets aren’t cheap”

        True but it’s nice to have files for a printable version just the same. Maybe somebody already has a bunch of magnets or has a junk device to rob them from. Also, if MagPorts contain magnets yet are more affordable than the magnets withing then clearly it is possible for someone to sell the magnets at a lower price. Maybe with enough people 3d printing enough objects such things will be commoditized. Imagine a future in which it is commonplace for one’s shopping list to include 3 spools of filament (better yet bags of pellets) and a small bag of magnets!

        Yah, I know. That’s a long way off but every design is a step along the way.

        The only thing I would do different is to use something like OpenSCAD and make it parametric. That way you are already providing something MagPort cannot, the ability to mate to any random sized hosess and outlets.

        1. Yeah, i had a bunch of leftover magnets, so that definitely is a thing.

          Sorry, I loathe OpenSCAD, but the step files work in Fusion and OnShape, so it’s easy enough to get them in parametric form.

          I use solidworks, which I know is expensive, but that’s what I use at work, so that’s what I’ve got.

    2. I have something like that on my dryer but it’s a twist lock. Are you saying there is a magnet version?

      My fist thought was that I would have been more excited if it was compatible with those dryer duct fittings. But.. then I read the advantages of being magnetic instead of twist-locking. I think for dust collection I might like that bur not so much for a dryer vent.

    1. i always bevel the edges on my subassemblies so they are self locking. its a good practice. especially when you have a rather crappy 8x4x5 build volume and cant print everything as one piece.

        1. In the case of this flange device, imagine keeping both faces mostly-flat, but one has a ring notched out of the inside edge, and the other has a ring poking out to sit in that notch. That provides a constraint to prevent lateral/sliding movement and keep the flanges nicely aligned.

          That’s particularly useful for magnetically-clamped interfaces like this because the magnets don’t provide much lateral alignment force until you’re misaligned by about half a magnet-width, at which point the magnetic grip strength is dropping right off.

          1. The issue with that is that it becomes much less print-able. Large flat surfaces are easy – make a couple extrusions to register, and then you need to print on a bed of support.
            These magnets are plenty strong for this application – they self-align very easily.
            I’m all for tapers, keys, or other methods of getting positive register on a part, but it’s really not needed on this.

          2. Yea not necessary here, but a useful technique in general.

            I’ve also got some connectors I’ve made which are slip-fit tubes with magnets on the (radial) mating faces. There’s about 15mm of travel inserting one tube into the other, and once in, the magnets hold it all together. They don’t grip as tightly as in the configuration you’ve got here (pulling on the connector slides the magnets apart) but they go together and come apart nice and smoothly. It’s a nice way to do a box-lid for example.

            In the case of my DC hose couplers – which are CNC-milled instead of 3D-printed – there’s some 100mm PVC DWV pipe which is gripped by plywood, and the flexi-hose clamps onto the pipe. PVC DWV is really handy for hacking up DC connections if you don’t have a 3D printer.

            Next step: homemade electronically-controlled blast gates, which open (and all the other gates close) when the matching machine is powered on.

          3. Maybe instead of a protruding ring and a notch for it to fit in something could be done with pegs and holes. If so then would round the tips of the pegs so that it slides easy while the user is twisting to find the position where they line up.

          4. I considered using some steel dowels and some aluminum sleeves. Press fit dowels on one side and the sleeves on the other. I still may do it, but it’s working well for now , so I’ll leave it for the time being.

      1. easiest example to explain is a simple box enclosure that is printed in 2 pieces, top and bottom. easy to do in cad make a box, turn it into a shell and do a slice operation. except instead of clean flat slice you do it as a 45 degree angle (i use the chamfer tool in 3dsmax after selecting either the inner or outer edge). you kill all lateral motion and only have to worry about holding the top down.

        these come out pretty good in prints when they are either on the upper surface or on lateral surfaces. ive even had luck printing them bottom up.

  2. additive is certainly a nice way to do large flanges like this, what with them being mostly empty.

    taking Ø’s suggestion a bit further, you could make the two flange surfaces interlocking in a fashion, to increase the friction between the mating surfaces and make life easier for the magnets.

  3. I’m confused. This is a perfectly injection moldable part. There is nothing in this scenario that changes the fact that low-end 3D printing is great for one-off prototypes, but injection molding is in most instances better and cheaper for production. In fact this particular geometry hardly takes advantage of what additive manufacturing can do.

    To be clear, this is an awesome idea, and it’s great that 3D printing means you can make this as a one-off. Just saying it does not at all mean you should be making 100s of these with 3D printing.

    1. The point of the article is that you can make practical things using a 3D printer, not that it’s better than commercial production techniques for making 100s of them. AS far as I can tell it doesn’t say, or imply that anywhere.

    2. You pick up the dart and look at it.
      A bright glint catches your eye as the cheap florescent lighting reflects off the tip.
      The bar grows silent as everyone watches to see what you will do.
      You focus on the target. The point having been taped over the bull’s eye by someone earlier.
      You breath in deeply.
      You adjust your stance, your shoes sticking a little to the dirty bar floor.
      You take aim.
      Somebody belches.
      Your arm goes back.
      You swing it forward.
      Your hand snaps to the front and your fingers release their now airborne projectile.

      OH SHIT RUN!!!!

      You not only missed the point you missed it so bad that the dart is now sticking out of the leader of the rowdy biker gang that was having a chugging competition in the corner!

      Seriously, this is Hack a Day. Sure, many of us do make things for a living but we all make things for ourselves. No single individual is ever going to use enough of these to justify creating a mold for an injection molding machine. Many of us can 3d print like there is no tomorrow do not have the metalworking skills to do what you propose. Most of us will never own an injection molding machine!

    3. Obviously if you were to make 100’s of these, 3D printing would be a terrible solution. If you need to make 100’s of ANYTHING, I would say printing is not the way you want to go. It’s just not a tech for mass production.

      On the other hand, 3D printing is a great choice for making low-volume runs of customized objects, which this is a perfect example of. The average home shop wouldn’t need 100 of these, even 10 would be on the high side.

    1. Not A Thing. Seriously – workshop explosions/incidents/injuries must be reported in every civilised jurisdiction, but there are no such reports, not even anecdotally. Just a bunch of speculation from people who have added “duct zapped me” to “flour mill explosion” and came up with 5.

      Yeah you can get a bit of a zap from plastic ducting, but there’s no empirical evidence that they can hold enough energy to ignite even the finest wood dust.

      1. Yeah, I’ve heard about such fires/explosions since I first got my DC, but haven’t seen anything to speak of. I do have grounding on all my hose, but mainly because the static is annoying and it collects dust on the hose and fittings, rather than falling to the ground.

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