Come For The PCB Holder, Stay For The Tour Of FreeCAD

PCB holders are great tools. Not only is the PCB Solder Fren from [PistonPin] a nice DIY design, it offers some insight into the parts design process with FreeCAD.

This design nicely demonstrates FreeCAD’s workflow for designing parts.

The PCB holder uses 3D-printed parts, M5 hardware, a length of 2020 aluminum extrusion, and one spring to create a handy and adjustable design that accommodates a variety of PCB sizes and shapes. If the ends of the extrusion are threaded, the end caps can be screwed in. Otherwise, a little glue ought to do the trick.

Want a little more insight into what making a part like this involves? [Jo Hinchliffe] at FreeCAD reached out to [PistonPin] for more detail and has a blog post explaining the workflow and steps involved in this part. As a bonus, STEP files and the FreeCAD project file are all included!

Not only is FreeCAD simple to use, but it’s also flexible enough to accommodate custom, niche extensions like a Rocketry workbench, so be sure to give it a look for your open-source CAD needs.

10 thoughts on “Come For The PCB Holder, Stay For The Tour Of FreeCAD

    1. I think you’d be surprised at how close you can get even very low melt plastics to the area you are working on – that PCB is a huge heatsink and radiates away the heat you are putting in quite well (which from the POV of getting the soldering done is often a pain, but from protecting the work holder from harm is fine), and then you actually have to heat a relatively large block of plastic (assuming printing with high infill). Just don’t poke the plastic with the Iron directly (etc) and its probably fine.

      Then there are the filaments that are more thermal resistant anyway – these things (when they are plastic) tend to be mass produced in ABS it seems, you can print that. PLA would be a bad idea probably as it gets soft at a very low temperature, but even PLA could probably be functional in this design.

  1. Neat!!

    I ‘bought’ one on-line much like this one a few years ago. It is a very handy devise when a third or forth hand is needed.

    I’ll have to look at his blog post. Never to old to learn something as I use FreeCad myself and ever learning.

      1. It really doesn’t matter… I’ve been using FreeCAD for 5 years now and I like it for what it is. Which is a completely free fully functional CAD software. However; it just wants you to do everything completely backwards and it has ZERO capability of doing some of the most basic auto calculations. Things like the infamous “no closed face error” are a non issue in virtually ALL other CAD software. Even browser based apps are capable of understanding that adding an arc to the top of a rectangle means you want a round top on the shape. And then having the oversize an additional shape on an existing shape or it won’t recognize that you’re trying to add another feature is just silly.

        Like I said… I use it and I do like it. But there really is no comparison to a professional level product like solidworks or Autodesk. People not willing to admit that have either never actually used one of those products or are flat out in denial…

    1. I’d suggest it is very simple to use if you come at learning it as a novice or at least accept you have to learn how to CAD again – in the same way folks that swear by Autodesk or Solidworks tend to hate the other it is just being different that makes up most of the problem.

      Especially now FreeCAD has progressed to the stage it is at, out of that wild earliest days of just about viable project into something stable enough you will recognise the next versions even if you skip a heap.

      1. Starting with fusion with very little experience, it didn’t take long to produce parts.
        Moving to solid works, small adjustments but still not hard. Continuing on to solid edge, bit more learning curve, but could get stuff done fairly fast.
        Free cad.. I really want to like it, tried it 3-4 times for different designs… it’s just cumbersome, just not integrated like the rest.

        But… it’s free.. and that it’s worth a lot too

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