Art of 3D printer in the middle of printing a Hackaday Jolly Wrencher logo

3D Printering: Can You Ever Have Enough Vitamins?

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?”

Crazy Bike Frame Made Out Of 147 Nuts

Bike frames are most commonly made out of steel. If you’ve got money for something nicer though, you might go with something in aluminium or carbon fiber. [The Q] went completely off-the-wall with this build, though, constructing a bicycle frame out of 147 nuts. 

Those forks don’t inspire confidence.

Yes, a variety of nuts in various sizes were laid out and welded together to make the frame. The overall layout is a conventional diamond frame, albeit constructed out of many nuts stuck together rather than with tubes. Notably though, several important areas aren’t made in this way. The front and rear dropouts are made of sheet steel, and the bottom bracket, seat post mount, and headstem are all made of steel tube. After welding, the bike was given an attractive coat of grey paint. It was then laced up with the usual running gear and given a set of chunky mountain bike tires.

We wouldn’t want to push this frame too hard over bumps and jumps. The video only shows the nuts being joined with tack welds, and the front forks look particularly fragile. One suspects a decent shock loading could snap parts of the frame apart. Overall, though, it’s an eye-catching bike that has plenty of easy places to attach a lock. For an ultra-fashionable city-bound cruiser, it would be hard to beat.

We’ve featured some weird and wonderful bikes over the years, including this tasteful plywood design. Video after the break.

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Hydraulic Press Channel Puts Nuts To The Test

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.

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Automatic Nut Sorter For A Tidy Workspace

We all have that one drawer or box full of random hardware. You don’t want to get rid of anything because as soon as you do, that’s the one thing you’ll need. But, honestly, you’ll be lucky to find what you need in there, anyway. Enter  [Mr. Innovative’s] nut sorting machine. As you can see in the video below, it will make order out of the chaos, at least for nuts.

You might think the device would need optical recognition software or some other high-tech mechanism. But, in fact, it is nothing more than a motor with a speed controller. The sorting is done by a plastic piece built like stairs. When a nut is too tall to fit under the next step, it slides out into the output hopper. You could probably turn the whole thing with a crank and no electricity at all if you wanted to.

Drilling out the shaft required a bit of machine tool usage, so this might not be a great weekend project without a lathe. Like many of the commenters on the video mentioned, we probably wouldn’t have used a rod holder as a rotating bearing, either, but for as little as something like this would probably operate, it is likely to last a fair amount of time. It would be easy to replace it or even affix a shaft to the motor with a coupler, sidestepping several issues.

Apparently, the device isn’t perfect. You do get some missorts. We imagine that’s from a larger nut pushing a smaller nut on the way to the hopper. The Thingiverse files seem to be missing, but this is something you’d probably adapt to your own design, anyway.

It isn’t as automated, but we’ve seen a gadget that can help sort drill bits, too. Sometimes you want to sort little parts by color, too.

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DIY Insulating Nuts And Bolts

[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.

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Locking Up Lock Washers

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.

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Nuts And Bolts: Keeping It Tight

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.

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