3D Printed Tool Lets You Measure Component Reels Easily

Component reels are a highly-0ptimized packaging format. They deliver components to pick and place machines for effective high-speed assembly. As more of us get into working with SMD components, we’re exposed to them as well. [MG] wanted a way to easily measure tape from component reels, which is difficult because they’re often curled up. Thus, they whipped up a nifty little tool for the job.

The device consists of a 3D printed bracket which is designed to fit on a cheap electronic tape measure from Amazon. The bracket holds an 8mm wide component tape against the measuring wheel. As the component tape is fed through the device, it turns the wheel, and the measurement appears on the screen. No more must you try and flatten out a tape and measure it section by section. Instead, you just feed it in, yank it through, and you’re done!

[MG] notes that the tape measure itself runs on an STM32 microcontroller. As an extra-credit assignment, they suggest that the device could be reprogrammed to display component count instead of distance if that’s more suitable for your application. If you happen to make that mod, be sure to notify us on the tipline!

3D Printed… Measuring Tape?

3d printed measuring tape

Here’s a new one to push the envelope… How about a 3D printed measuring tape?

This unique 3D printed tool was designed and printed in a single job.  [Angry Monk] has been challenging himself lately with these intricate designs, having recently finished a completely 3D printed set of dial calipers, which is impressive in its own right.

Looking for his latest challenge he pondered what it would take to make this 3D printed tape measure. As he continued to think about it he realized how complex it would actually be to pull off. After designing and printing a few of the basic parts to help him solidify his ideas, he set to work. This tape measure has 114 individual parts. It includes 52″ of tape links with 1″ divisions and markings down to the 1/8th of an inch. It even features a hand crank (sorry no spring return) to roll up the tape.

Now as you can imagine, a complex assembly like this is a bit out of the realm of possibility for regular hobby 3D printers — a UV resin printer might be able to do it, but [Angry Monk] used a commercial Objet Eden 3D printer. Still though — it’s an impressive display of design, check out the following video and see for yourself.

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Digital Measuring Tape

You’ll never come up short with this measuring tape. That’s because there isn’t actually any tape in the device; it measures distance based on the rotation of a wheel. Roll it across the room and you’ll get an accurate measurement of the distance the little bugger traveled. Like the Etch-a-Sketch from Monday this uses the encoder wheel from a mouse as the input. The IR emitter and sensor from the ubiquitous peripheral find a new home on the PCB that hosts the PIC 16F819. It monitors the rotation, turns it into inches, then spits that number out on a 7 segment display. Handy, and cheap!