No Assembly Required For This Compliant Mechanism Dial Indicator

If you’ve ever had the good fortune — or, after a shop mishap, the misfortune — to see the insides of a dial indicator, you’ll know the workings of these shop essentials resemble nothing so much as those of a fine Swiss watch. The pinions, gears, and springs within transmit the slightest movement of the instrument’s plunger to a series of dials, making even the tiniest of differences easy to spot.

Not every useful dial indicator needs to have those mechanical guts, nor even a dial for that matter. This compliant mechanism 3D-printed dial-free indicator is perfect for a lot of simple tasks, including the bed leveling chores that [SunShine] designed it for. Rather than print a bunch of gears and assemble them, [SunShine] chose to print the plunger, a fine set of flexible linkage arms, and a long lever arm to act as a needle. The needle is attached to a flexible fulcrum, which is part of the barrel that houses the plunger. Slight movements of the plunger within the barrel push or pull on the needle, amplifying them into an easily read deflection. When attached to the head of a 3D-printer and scanned over the bed, it’s easy to see even the slightest variation in height and make the corresponding adjustments. Check it out in the video below.

We’re big fans of compliant mechanisms, seeing them in everything from robot arms and legs to thrust vectoring for an RC plane. This might look like something from a cereal box, and it certainly doesn’t have the lasting power of a Starrett or Mitutoyo, but then again it costs essentially nothing, and we like that too.

[via r/3Dprinting]

9 thoughts on “No Assembly Required For This Compliant Mechanism Dial Indicator

    1. I’d rather recommend buying a printer with automatic bed leveling and magnetic metal print bed… Really, those are the greatest workhorse features of my “dude those those prusa printers are damn expensive!“ i3 MK3S.

  1. I think one of the fun things about Compliant Mechanisms and design with them. Is when you see what somebody’s made. First dissecting it in your mind and figuring out how you would implement such a thing(your own understanding permitted). Then actually looking at it to confirm your thoughts.

  2. depends on the results intended, if you want an eyeball amplifier, super great, if you need a tolerance then useless

    going back to the former one could do about the same with 2 parallel sticks (winding sticks look em up) but I digress

    1. Winding sticks was new to me and was cool to check out, love a simple yet so obvious “Why didn’t I think of that?” solution. But winding sticks wouldn’t help for tramming the bed of a 3D printer much.

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