Single Piece 3D-Printed PCB Vise

Making full use of the capabilities and advantages of 3D printing requires a very different way of thinking compared to more traditional manufacturing methods. Often we see designs that do not really take these advantages into account, so we’re always on the lookout for interesting designs that embrace the nature of 3D-printed parts in interesting ways. [joopjoop]’s spring-loaded PCB vise is one such ingenious design that incorporates the spring action into the print itself.

This vise is designed to be printed as a single piece, with very little post-processing required if your printer is dialed in. There is a small gap between the base plate and the springs and clamping surfaces that need to be separated with a painters knife or putty knife. Two “handles” have contours for your fingers to operate the clamping surfaces. It opens quickly for inserting your latest custom PCB.

PLA can be surprisingly flexible if the right geometry is used, and these springs are an excellent example of this. In the video below [Chuck Hellebuyck] does a test and review of the design, and it looks like it works well for hand soldering (though it probably won’t hold up well with a hot air station). Last month our own [Tom Nardi] recently reviewed a similar concept that used spiral springs designed into the printed part. While these both get the job done, [Tom’s] overall verdict is that a design like this rubber-band actuated PCB vise is a better long-term option.

It takes some creativity to get right, but printing complete assemblies as a single part, is a very useful feature of 3D printing. Just be careful of trying to make it the solution for every mechanical problem.

27 thoughts on “Single Piece 3D-Printed PCB Vise

          1. I suppose this isn’t complimentary, but I use to think that a servie manual with grammatical errors was far more likely to be reliable because engineering english had not been purified by the sophitsts. ah well, nothing changes.

  1. Whew, that’s elegant! I will try ripping off that accordion design for my own jigs. Looking at my bench now, I see a couple 3D printed items that are essential: wire holder for tinning ends (gets daily use), microscope-eyepiece-to-iPhone camera adapter, various sensor jigs for prototyping, linkages for DC motors, and Arduino/Raspi “board backers” – the board snaps into them to protect the backside, and allows the whole thing to be hot-glued. Board snaps in and out of them which is great for reuse.

      1. While I won’t say you are entirely wrong. You forget the parts and solutions that you couldn’t have hoped to make any other way as well.. and that sub-optimal in function is still a valid solution – maybe even the ‘best’ solution overall.

        Not much of a fan of PLA for anything however – ABS and the more exotic materials are my defaults. Not that I have actually tried to use some of the better regarded ‘new’ PLA blends.. Think the last PLA part I printed was at least 8 years ago. so in my case the suboptimal solutions are mostly ABS.

    1. Why in other places did English speakers stop pronouncing their R’s?
      Why the great vowel shift?
      Or why any other changes since humans first began to speak?

      These things just happen.

      1. There are almost as many words that are exceptions to the English “rules” of pronunciation, as there are words that comply. Get used to it – American English is its own language, and if I can’t convince people to say “noo-clee-er”, I’m going to at least stick to my guns on “sodder”.

      2. I’ve noticed an eerie similarity between the German pronunciation and the English one. Most of the time the R is soft, unlike the R spoken in Eastern Europe. Actually, you can feel the strength of R going up as you approach Russia. It also gets stronger in Italy.
        Anyway, in English and German the R has mostly been replaced by a really soft r with an ‘ah’ at the end. Just think how both countries pronounce a common word, such as kindergarten. Anyway, for a fun trip, just type the word “right” into google translate, click on a language and click on the speaker button.

  2. I’ve tried these sort of things before, the problem that even injection molded ones have is how poorly they handle heat.
    Unless you have the type that has a padded back that lets you put in all the parts, flip them over then work on the other side, they just end up being annoying.
    Even if the design is clever.

    1. Should be able to take a fair bit of melting by accident before it really ceases to function. Unless you are really careless and keep attacking the spring with the tip..
      Print it in one of the more high temp filament and while it will still melt it will be much slower and hard to really ruin it.

      I’d be more concerned that the springs will wear out too fast to be useful for long – I’ve got 3d printed jaws that while battle scarred still work fine, but not one 3d printed spring I’ve ever tried has been able to take prolonged compression – they work great for returning to the unsprung state quickly, but hold them in compression and the spring force drops pretty quick (varies with filament of course and this big spring folded spring is a good design to spread the tension over a small motion at any one point so it might last well enough – even if it isn’t good for the long haul – I’d expect it to be great for most hackers to print as a one off sized to suit the small batches of boards we tend to order but rubbish for larger batches).

  3. I’ve printed this successfully on an Ender3 v2 with prima3d EasyPrint PLA. However IMO the biggest design flaw is the lack of “guide rails” on the edges, keeping the holder centered. Basically when you’ve clamped a PCB, it’s free to move in X/Z (depending on how you look at it) which makes it a bit wobbly.

  4. Unrelated to the build, but I can figure out how often thingiverse restart their servers – very!
    I log in, click the checkbox ‘stay logged in’ and it can take between minutes and days before I have to log in again.

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