As a community we owe perhaps more than we realise to the RepRap project. From it we get not only a set of open-source printer designs, but that 3D printing at our level has never become dominated by proprietary manufacturers in the way that for example paper printing is. The idea of a printer that can reproduce itself has never quite been fully realised though, because of what the RepRap community refer to as “vitamins“.
These are the mass-produced parts such as nuts, bolts, screws, and other parts which a RepRap printer can’t (yet) create for itself. It’s become a convenience among some of my friends to use this term in general for small pieces of hardware, which leads me to last week. I had a freshly printed prototype of one of my projects, and my hackerspace lacked the tiny self-tapping screws necessary for me to assemble it. Where oh where, was my plaintive cry, are the vitamins!
So my hackerspace is long on woodscrews for some reason, and short on machine screws and self-tappers. And threaded inserts for that matter, but for some reason it’s got a kit of springs. I’m going to have to make an AliExpress order to fix this, so the maybe I need you lot to help me. Just what vitamins does a a lone hardware hacker or a hackerspace need? Continue reading “3D Printering: Can You Ever Have Enough Vitamins?”→
Have you ever wondered how many threads a nut needs to be secure? [Hydraulic Press Channel] decided to find out, using some large hardware and a hydraulic press. The method was simple. He took a standard nut and cut the center out of it to have nuts with fewer threads than the full nut. Then it was on to the hydraulic press.
As you might expect, a single-thread nut gave way pretty quickly at about 10,000 kg. Adding threads, of course, helps. No real surprise, but it is nice to see actual characterization with real numbers. It is also interesting to watch metal hardware bend like cardboard at these enormous pressures.
In the end, he removed threads from the bolts to get a better test and got some surprising results. Examining the failure modes is also interesting.
Honestly, we aren’t sure how valid some of the results were, but it was interesting watching the thread stripping and the catastrophic failures of the samples in the press. It seems like to do this right, you need to try a variety of assemblies and maybe even use different materials to see if all the data fit with the change in the number of threads. We expect the shape of the threads also makes a difference.
Still, an interesting video. We always enjoy seeing data generated to test theories and assumptions. We think of bolts and things as pretty simple, but there’s a surprising amount of technology that goes into their design and construction.
Airless tires have been “a few years away” from production for decades now. They’re one of the automotive version of vaporware (at least those meant for passenger vehicles), always on the cusp of being produced but somehow never materializing. They have a number of perks over traditional air-filled tires in that they are immune to flats and punctures, and since there aren’t any airless tires available at the local tire shop, [Driven Media] decided to make and test their own.
The tires are surprisingly inexpensive to make. A few pieces of drainage tubing of varying diameters, cut to short lengths, and then bolted together with off-the-shelf hardware is all it takes, although they note that there was a tremendous amount of hardware needed to fasten all the pipe lengths together. With the structure in place they simply cut a tread off of a traditional tire and wrapped it around each of the four assemblies, then bolted them up to their Caterham street-legal race car for testing.
While the ride quality was notoriously (and unsurprisingly) rough and bumpy, the tires perform admirably under the circumstances and survive being driven fairly aggressively on a closed-circuit race course. For such a low price and simple parts list it’s shocking that a major tire manufacturer like Michelin hasn’t figured out how to successfully bring one to a light passenger car yet.
[Rudi Schoenmackers] has devised a clever set of custom 3D-printed jigs that makes it easy to build your own wooden hex nuts and bolts. Well, easy if you have access to a woodworking shop with a router, bandsaw and belt sander.
You won’t be using these to mount your PCBs, however. They are pretty big — UNC 1½-6 threads (the closest metric thread would probably be M36-4). [Rudi] points out that these jigs can be readily adapted to generate different sizes and pitches of threads, even left-handed ones, but we suspect making a #4-40 or M3-0.5 is out of the question. There are commercial jigs for making threads, but as [Rudi] points out, those are quite expensive. The price of [Rudi]’s jigs is quite low, assuming you have a 3D printer.
We’re not sure how to best take advantage of these nuts and bolts in ordinary hacking projects, but [Rudi] enjoys giving them away as cool toys or making large clamps and vises out of them. Let us know if you have any applications where wooden threaded fasteners could come in handy. If wooden threads interest you, then check out this project we covered a few years ago on making simple taps.
We’ll admit most of us are more comfortable with solder and software than mechanical things. However, between robots, 3D printers, and various other mechanical devices, we sometimes have to dig into springs, belleville washers, and linear actuators. Unless you are a mechanical engineer, you might not realize there’s a lot of nuances to something even as simple as a nut and bolt. How many threads do you need to engage? Do lock washers work? [Engineer Dog] has a post that answers these and many other questions.
The top ten list starts off with something controversial: split ring lock washers don’t work. The original post cites a paper that claims they don’t except in very special circumstances. However, he updated the post later to say that some people disagree with his cited study. In the end, you’ll have to decide, but given there are other options, maybe we’ll start using those more often.
It’s not much of a stretch to say that without nuts and bolts, the world would fall apart. Bolted connections are everywhere, from the frame of your DIY 3D printer to the lug nuts holding the wheels on your car. Though the penalty for failure is certainly higher in the latter than in the former, self-loosening of nuts and bolts is rarely a good thing. Engineers have come up with dozens of ways to make sure the world doesn’t fall apart, and some work better than others. Let’s explore a few of these methods and find out what works, what doesn’t work, and in the process maybe we’ll learn a little about how these fascinating fasteners work.
MDF is the cheapest and flattest wood you can buy at local hardware stores. It’s uniform in thickness, and easy to work with. It’s no wonder that it shows up in a lot of projects. MDF stands for Medium Density Fiberboard. It’s made by pressing materials together along with some steam, typically wood, fibers and glue. This bonds the fibers very tightly. Sometimes MDF is constructed much like plywood. Thinner layers of MDF will be made. Then those layers will be laminated together under glue and steam.The laminated MDF is not as good as the monolithic kind. It tends to tear and break out along the layers, but it’s hard to tell which kind you will get.
MDF is great, but it has a few properties to watch for. First, MDF is very weak in bending and tension. It has a Modulus of Elasticity that’s about half of plywood. Due to its structure, short interlocking fibers bound together by glue and pressure, it doesn’t take a lot to cause a crack, and then, quickly, a break. If you’d like to test this, take a sheet of MDF, cut it with a knife, flip it over, and hit the sheet right behind your cut. Chances are the MDF will split surprisingly easily right at that point.
Because of the way MDF is constructed, fasteners tend to pull out of it easily. This means that you must always make sure a fastener that sees dynamic loads (say a bearing mount) goes through the MDF to the other side into a washer and bolt. MDF also tends to compress locally after a time, so even with a washer and bolt it is possible that you will see some ovaling of the holes. If you’re going to use screws, make sure they don’t experience a lot of force, also choose ones with very large threads instead of a finer pitch. Lastly, always use a pilot hole in MDF. Any particle board can split in alarming ways. For example, if you just drive a screw into MDF, it may appear to go well at first. Then it will suddenly jump back against you. This happened because the screw is compressing the fibers in front of it, causing an upward force. The only thing pressing against that force is the top layer of laminate contacting the threads. The screw then jumps out, tearing the top layer of particle board apart.