Dremel Workstation’s New Job: Applying Threaded Inserts With Cheap Soldering Iron

Dremel has been helping people fit square pegs into round holes for years, and [concretedog] saw that the Dremel 220 Workstation — a piece of hardware similar to a drill press — could be convinced to hold a cheap soldering iron just as easily as it holds a rotary tool. A soldering iron makes an effective thermal insert tool, and the job of heating and pressing the threaded metal rings into plastic is made much easier when it can be done similar to operating a drill press. With a few modifications and a 3D-printed adapter, the thermal insert rig was born.

Whenever one is working around a design that already exists, it pays to be flexible and adjust to the unexpected. The Dremel 220 has a holder intended to clamp a rotary tool, and the original plan was to simply design and print an adapter so a soldering iron could sit in place of the rotary tool. That plan changed upon realizing that the entire rotary tool holder disconnected from the tool’s frame with a single bolt. It made much more sense to make the soldering iron replace the rotary tool holder, instead.

The resulting modified soldering iron is mounted via standoffs to a 3D-printed adapter with a copper foil heat shield. [concretedog] admits it’s not ideal from a heat management perspective, but it makes a fine prototype that seems to work well for light duty. The next step would be a metal version.

If you’re intrigued by threaded heat-set inserts, you can learn all about how to use them from Joshua Vasquez’s guide to the handy things. And should you prefer to make your own DIY press from 3D printed parts and off-the-shelf hardware, we have that covered as well.

11 thoughts on “Dremel Workstation’s New Job: Applying Threaded Inserts With Cheap Soldering Iron

  1. Sears made this kind of hand drill stand for years http://vintagemachinery.org/photoindex/detail.aspx?id=3828 and you can find them for a couple to $10 bucks at yard sales and in thrift stores*. They mount a heat gun pretty easily, as well as other tools that might be the same kind of fat gun shape. There’s also Wolfcraft models that are similar, whereas I think the B&D versions are a bit specific on the hand drills they will hold, so less adaptable.

    Anyway, should you not find one of those dremel stands, these seem common enough you could probably sleeve them and do similar, even get a huge electrical plumbers iron in there to shove thimble sized stuff into big prints etc.

    (* Though of course some eejut or opportunist has one listed for big bucks on eBay so prices might go up)

        1. LOL! Just today I un-ugga-dugga’d one of those thread-pitch cross-thread cases that was nicely rusted in, too. Some Einstein at Ford had succeeded in squeezing a metric nut on an imperial bolt. Had to make three trips to the tool chest to get ever more serious power tools.

  2. if you buy this drill press expecting anything other than bad drill press, you will be disappointed. to this day i still haven’t been able to tram the thing in. id love to see more articles about how to make this thing useful as anything other than an imprecise hole puncher.

  3. I hear ya! It’s an awful drill press… Hence why I occasionally try and make it more useful! I need to reblog as since this I’ve redone the thermal insert set up all in steel. FWIW I think most of the shittyness of this press comes from the small grub screws that sit in the keyway on the main shaft. They are way undersize and allow a massive amount of wiggle room. I might try and work out how to remake them with a gib addition to try and sort it out a bit. But it’s a lot of effort when I have much better presses/pillars!

    1. Yeah, it was just a proof of concept really, I’ve since remade the mount out of a bit of en1a steel, which is much stiffer and I’m not worried about leaving it on for longer. That said, the 3d print did ok for short runs of inserts, was fine in terms of rigidity but eventually could get to hot.

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