Custom Tool Helps Hakko Set Threaded Inserts

When the tool you need doesn’t exist, you have to make it yourself. Come to think of it, even if the tool exists, it’s often way more fun to make it yourself. The former situation, though, is one that [Sean Hodgins] found himself in with regard to threaded inserts. Rather than suffer from the wrong tool for the job, he machined his own custom threaded insert tool for his Hakko soldering iron.

Like many of us, [Sean] has embraced the use of heat-set threaded inserts to beef up the mechanical connections on his 3D-printed parts. [Sean] dedicated a soldering iron to the task, equipping it with a tip especially for the job. But it was the flavor of iron proverbially known as a “fire stick” and he found that this iron was too hot for PLA prints. As the new owner of a lathe, he was able to make quick work of the job using a piece of brass rod stock. Luckily, Hakko tips just slip on the heating element, so no threading operations were needed. [Sean] made insert tips for multiple sized inserts, and the results speak for themselves.

If you haven’t tried these out yet, check out [Joshua Vasquez’s] excellent guide on heat-set inserts. You’ll find this guide to the relative merits of the different types useful when ordering inserts. And if you’ve got the itch to buy a lathe now, we’ve got you covered there too.

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Plaster Annealing 3D Prints For Strength

[Stefan] is always trying to make stronger 3D prints. Annealing can strengthen prints, but often at the expense of the part’s exact dimensions. His latest approach is to embed the prints in plaster and then anneal in an attempt to fuse the plastic together without changing its shape or size. Did it work? See for yourself in the video below.

He’s done a lot of work we’ve taken note of before where he measures the strength of parts after different post-processing steps. His test plastic parts used both PLA and PETG.

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PLA-F Blends PLA And ABS

In the early days of 3D printing, most people used ABS plastic. It is durable and sticks well to simple surfaces. However, it smells and emits fumes that may be dangerous. It also tends to warp as it cools which causes problems when printing. PLA smells nicer and since it is made from corn is supposed to be less noxious. However, PLA isn’t as temperature resistant and while it will stick better to beds without heat, it also requires more airflow to set the plastic as it prints. [Kerry Stevenson] recently reviewed PLA-F which is a blend of the two plastics. Is it the best of both worlds? Or the worst?

[Kerry]  did several tests with interesting results. He did a temperature test tower and found the material printed well between 190 and 240 °C. He did note some stringing problems, though.

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Aesthetic DIY Bluetooth Speakers

DIY Bluetooth speaker projects are always a staple here at Hackady. In our latest feature of DIY audio builds, we have [Patrick’s] vinyl cylindrical speaker.

He found a pretty inexpensive Bluetooth audio amplifier on AliExpress. However, the amplifier module oddly enough had a few missing components that were critical to its operation, so he had to do a little bit of re-work. Not something you generally expect to do when you purchase a pre-made module, but he was certainly up to the task.

He noticed the board amp module was missing a battery protection circuit even though there was space on the board laid out for those components (maybe an older board revision?). To remedy this problem, he added his own battery protection circuit to prevent any unwanted catastrophes. Secondly, he noticed a lot of distortion at high volumes and figured that some added capacitance on the power supply would help fix the distortion. Luckily, that did the trick.

Finally, and not quite a mistake on the manufacturer’s part this time, but an improvement [Patrick] needed for his own personal use. He wanted the amp module’s board-level LED indicator to be visible once the enclosure was fitted around the electronics. So, he used the built-in status trigger as a digital signal for a simple transistor circuit powering a much brighter ring LED that could be mounted onto the enclosure. That way, he could utilize the firmware for triggering the board-level status indicator for his own ring LED without any software modifications to the amp module.

Now, all that was left was to construct the enclosure he had 3D-printed and fit all the electronics in their place. We’ve gotten pretty used to the always impressive aesthetics of [Patrick’s] designs, having covered a project of his before, and this build is certainly no exception. Great job!

While you’re here, take a look at some other DIY Bluetooth speaker projects on Hackaday.

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Printed It: Print-in-Place PCB Gripper

The goal of Printed It is to showcase creations that truly embrace the possibilities offered by desktop 3D printing. The most obvious examples are designs that can be printed quickly and cheaply enough that they’re a valid alternative to commercially available products. But as previous entries into the series have shown, there are also technical considerations. Is it simply a duplicate of something that could be produced via traditional means, or does the design really benefit from the unique nature of 3D printing?

A perfect example is the Print-in-Place PCB Holder/Gripper created by SunShine. This design is able to hold onto PCBs (or really, whatever you wish) without any additional components. Just pull it off the bed, and put it to work. While having to add a rubber band or generic spring would hardly be an inconvenience, there’s always something to be said for a design that’s truly 100% printable.

The secret is the dual flat spiral springs integrated into the device’s jaws. While most of the common thermoplastics used in desktop 3D printing are relatively stiff, the springs have been designed in such a way that they can be printed in standard PLA. The backside of the jaws have teeth that mesh together, so the energy of the springs is combined to provide a clamping force. Serrations have been added to the jaws to catch the edge of the PCB and help stabilize it.

Visually, it’s certainly striking. The design largely eschews right angles, giving it an almost biological appearance. Many have compared it to the head of a mantis, or perhaps some piece of alien technology.

There’s no question that the design leverages the strengths of 3D printing either; there’s no other way to produce its intricate interlocking components, especially without the use of any sort of fasteners. In short, this design is an ideal candidate for Printed It. But there’s still one question to answer: does it actually work?

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IWings For The New Apple Power Adaptor

You might remember the old Apple MagSafe adaptor with the cute little fold out “wings” that served not only as a pragmatic cable management tool, but in our experience also expedited the inevitable and frayed end of your charger. Apple seems to have remedied the latter by opting for removable USB-C cables in latest designs, but the complete omission of a pop-out cable spooling contraption is problematic.

[Eric], an industrial designer, took it upon himself to design a 3D printed add on for the new generation of chargers. His video is certainty one of those satisfying accounts, where the whole process from conceptional sketch to a working Hack is neatly self-contained in a single video.  The design is largely based off the original version, implemented in PLA together with piano wire serving as the hinge pin. We think this is a very good example of how 3D printers can be used to personalise and tweak commercial products to suite particular needs.

If you are looking for a more general 3D printed cable management tool, check out this geared cable winder we featured earlier.

3D-Printed Tools Turn Bench Vise Into Expedient Press Brake

Chances are pretty good that most of us have used a bench vise to do things far beyond its intended use. That’s understandable, as the vise may be the most powerful hand tool in many shops, capable of exerting tons of pressure with the twist of your wrist. Not taking advantage of that power wouldn’t make any sense, would it?

Still, the clamping power of the vise could sometimes use a little finesse, which is the thinking behind these 3D-printed press brake tools.  [Brauns CNC] came up with these tools, which consist of a punch and a die with mating profiles. Mounted to the jaws of the vise with magnetic flanges, the punch is driven into the die using the vise, forming neat bends in the metal. [Braun] goes into useful detail on punch geometry and managing springback of the workpiece, and handling workpieces wider than the vise jaws. The tools are printed in standard PLA or PETG and are plenty strong, although he does mention using his steel-reinforced 3D-printing method for gooseneck punches and other tools that might need reinforcement. We’d imagine carbon-fiber reinforced filament would add to the strength as well.

To be sure, no matter what tooling you throw at it, a bench vise is a poor substitute for a real press brake. Such machine tools are capable of working sheet metal and other stock into intricate shapes with as few setups as possible, and bring a level of power and precision that can’t be matched by an improvised setup. But the ability to make small bends in lighter materials with homemade tooling and elbow grease is a powerful tool in itself.

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