One of the best things about hanging around with other hackers is you hear about the little tricks they use for things like 3D printing. But with the Internet, you can overhear tips from people you’ll probably never meet, like [3D Printer Academy]. His recent video has a little bit of a click-bait title (“10 Secret 3D Printing Tricks…“) but when we watched it, we did see several cool ideas. Of course, you probably know at least some of the ten tips, but it is still interesting to see what he’s been up to, which you can do in the video below.
At one point he mentions 11 tips, but the title has 10 and we had to stretch to get to that number since some of them have some overlap. For example, several involve making printed threads. However, he also shows some C-clips, a trick to add walls for strength, and printing spur gears. Of course, some of these, like the gears, require specific tools, but many of them are agnostic.
Some of the tips are about selecting a particular infill pattern, which you’d think would be pretty obvious, but then again, your idea of what’s novel and what’s old hat might be different than ours. The explanation of how a print-in-place hinge works is pretty clear (even if it isn’t really a live hinge) and also applies to making chains to transfer power. We also thought the threaded containers were clever.
So if you can overlook the title and you don’t mind seeing a few tips you probably already know, you can probably take something away from the video. What’s your favorite “expert” trick? Let us know in the comments.
[3D Honza] has been sharing progress pictures and videos on his Twitter account, and just recently released the first version of his design. Version 1.0 is just the mechanics, but he’s already at work on version 2.0 which includes the ability to attach servos to drive the treads. At this writing, the design is currently downloadable directly from his site and includes CAD files, which is great to see.
One part of the design we’d like to draw your attention to is the chunky hinge that doubles as a kind of axial structure making up the body. This allows the tank to print in an unfolded state with the treads and wheels flat on the print bed. After printing, the tank gets folded up a bit like a taco to attain its final form. It’s a clever layout that allows the unit to be printed according to a filament-based 3D printer’s strengths, printing as a single piece that transforms into a small tank chassis, complete with working treads, in a few seconds.
3D printers have come a long way from cranking out things like bottle openers and coat pegs, and [E. Soderberg]’s Print in Place Geared Hinge is a pretty nifty demonstration of that. This hinge is designed as a print-in-place part, meaning it is 3D printed as a single piece, requiring no assembly. Not only that, but the herringbone gears constrain the sturdy device in a way that helps it support heavy loads.
Of course, hinges — even strong ones — are not particularly hard to find items. They’re available in a mind-boggling array of shapes and sizes. But what’s interesting about this design is that it shows what’s easily within the reach of just about any hobbyist nowadays. Not that long ago, designing and creating an object like this would not have been accessible to most home enthusiasts. Making it without a modern 3D printer would certainly have been a challenge in its own right.
It doesn’t always matter that a comparable (or superior) off-the-shelf part is available; an adequate part that can be created in one’s own workshop has a value all its own. Plus, it’s fun to design and make things, sometimes for their own sake. After all, things like 3D-printed custom switch assemblies would not exist if everyone were satisfied with the ability to just order some Cherry MX switches and call it a day.
Have you ever been about to finish a puzzle, when suddenly you realize there are more holes left than you have pieces? With [Nikolaos’s] 3D printed sliding puzzles, this will be a problem of the past!
The secret of the puzzle is in the tongue and groove system that captures the pieces while allowing them to slide past each other and along the puzzle’s bezel. The tongues are along the top and right sides of the pieces shown here, with the grooves along the left and bottom. There is only one empty spot on the board, so the player must be methodical in how they move pieces to their final destinations. See this in action in the video after the break.
[Nikolaos] designed the puzzle in Fusion 360, and used this as an opportunity to practice with parameters. He designed the model in such a way that any size puzzle could be generated by changing just 2 variables. Once the puzzle is the proper size, the image is added by importing and extruding an SVG.
Another cool aspect of these puzzles is that they are print-in-place, meaning that when the part is removed from the 3D printer, it is ready to use and fully assembled. No need to remove support material or bolt and glue together multiple components. Print-in-place is useful for more than just puzzles, you could also use this technique to 3D print wire connectors!
One thing some of us here in the United States have always been jealous of is the WAGO connectors that seem so common in electrical wiring everywhere else in the world. We often wonder why the electrical trades here haven’t adopted them more widely — after all, they’re faster to use than traditional wire nuts, and time is money on the job site.
This print-in-place electrical connector is inspired by the WAGO connectors, specifically their Lever Nut series. We’ll be clear right up front that [Tomáš “Harvie” Mudruňka’s] connector is more of an homage to the commercially available units, and should not be used for critical applications. Plus, as a 3D-printed part, it would be hard to compete with something optimized to be manufactured in the millions. But the idea is pretty slick. The print-in-place part has a vaguely heart-shaped cage with a lever arm trapped inside it.
After printing and freeing the lever arm, a small piece of 1.3-mm (16 AWG) solid copper wire is inserted into a groove. The wire acts as a busbar against which the lever arm squeezes conductors. The lever cams into a groove on the opposite wall of the cage, making a strong physical and electrical connection. The video below shows the connectors being built and tested.
If you ever watched Dr. Who, you probably know that the TARDIS looked like a police call box on the outside, but was very large on the inside. When asked, the Doctor had some explanation of how something can look small when it is far away and large when it is close up, which never made much sense. However, [iQLess] has been 3D printing boxes in a small area, that fold out to be much larger boxes. (Video, embedded below.) The design comes from someone called [Cisco] who has a lot of interesting print in place designs.
You can find the design on the Prusa site or Thingiverse. The boxes do take a while to print, according to the video below. What was interesting to us, though, is that you should be able to print a design like this to create a box larger than your printer.
While there are many in the 3D-printing community who loudly and proudly proclaim never to have stooped to printing a 3DBenchy, there are far more who have turned a new printer loose on the venerable test model, just to see what it can do. But Benchy is getting a little long in the tooth, and with 3D-printers getting better and better, perhaps a better benchmarking model is in order.
Knocking Benchy off its perch is the idea behind this print-in-place engine benchmark, at least according to [SunShine]. And we have to say that he’s come up with an impressive model. It’s a cutaway of a three-cylinder reciprocating engine, complete with crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, and engine block. It’s designed to print all in one go, with only a little cleanup needed after printing before the model is ready to go. The print-in-place aspect seems to be the main test of a printer — if you can get this engine to actually spin, you’re probably set up pretty well. [SunShine] shares a few tips to get your printer dialed in, and shows a few examples of what can happen when things go wrong. In addition to the complexities of the print-in-place mechanism, the model has a few Easter eggs to really challenge your printer, like the tiny oil channel running the length of the crankshaft.
Whether this model supplants Benchy is up for debate, but even if it doesn’t, it’s still a cool design that would be fun to play with. Either way, as [SunShine] points out, you’ll need a really flat bed to print this one; luckily, he recently came up with a compliant mechanism dial indicator to help with that job.