Print-in-Place Helping Hand Grabs A Hold Of Your PCB

We probably don’t have to promote the benefits of a third hand or PCB holders in general, such is their obvious utility. While you can arrange some boxes and pile up tools on your bench to get a similar result, a good grip and flexibility to move the PCB around during soldering or performing any other work on it makes life just so much easier. Thanks to 3D printing there have been plenty of inspiring designs that go beyond the usual clumsy-yet-cheap croc clip version of it, and [SunShine] adds one on to the list with his spring-loaded print-in-place PCB gripper, demonstrated in this video and available on Thingiverse.

The gripping part’s design is based on a spring-loaded box [SunShine] created a little while back — which you can read more about in his Instructable. The holder itself comes in two varieties: one that brings its own stand, and one that has a GoPro mount. The first one is really more to show off the design, and while the gripping part is fully functional, it might not perform too well with heavier boards and easily tip over. Sure, a bigger bottom or mounting it to something more sturdy will fix that, but so will the GoPro-mount version, which also adds the whole flexibility aspect.

If you do prefer something standing more sturdily on your desk though, have a look at the concrete-mounted solder squid from earlier this year. And if you’re interested in more of [SunShine]’s work, check out his 3D-printed brush collection.

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Printed It: Hand Cranked Photography Turntable

Even a relatively low-end desktop 3D printer will have no problems running off custom enclosures or parts for your latest project, and for many, that’s more than worth the cost of admission. But if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to become proficient with necessary CAD tools, even a basic 3D printer is capable of producing complex gadgets and mechanisms which would be extremely time consuming or difficult to produce with traditional manufacturing techniques.

Printable bearing cross-section

Once you find yourself at this stage of your 3D printing career, there’s something of a fork in the road. The most common path is to design parts which are printed and then assembled with glue or standard fasteners. This is certainly the easiest way forward, and lets you use printed parts in a way that’s very familiar. It can also be advantageous if you’re looking to meld your own printed parts with existing hardware.

The other option is to fully embrace the unique capabilities of 3D printing. Forget about nuts and bolts, and instead design assemblies which snap-fit together. Start using more organic shapes and curves. Understand that objects are no longer limited to simple solids, and can have their own complex internal geometries. Does a hinge really need to be two separate pieces linked with a pin, or could you achieve the desired action by capturing one printed part inside of another?

If you’re willing to take this path less traveled, you may one day find yourself creating designs such as this fully 3D printed turntable by Brian Brocken. Intended for photographing or 3D scanning small objects without breaking the bank, the design doesn’t use ball bearings, screws, or even glue. Every single component is printed and fits together with either friction or integrated locking features. This is a functional device that can be printed and put to use anywhere, at any time. You could print one of these on the International Space Station and not have to wait on an order from McMaster-Carr to finish it.

With such a clever design, I couldn’t help but take a closer look at how it works, how it prints, and perhaps even some ways it could be adapted or refined going forward.

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3D Printed Buttons, Printed As A Single Unit

These nifty buttons come from [Marc Schömann], and they are intended to cover just about any kind of tact switches. The buttons, their cover, and the compliant bits that act as a spring can be 3D printed as a complete unit that requires no assembly, and can be used fresh off the print bed.

The design is still being developed, but those interested in playing with it can download the current model here. [Marc] printed this version in two colors, but that’s just to make how the buttons work easier to see. It also gave him an opportunity to test and tune the tool changer on his printer.

Tool changer, you say? Yes, indeed. The printer is the Blackbox, a open source, tool-changing 3D printer of [Marc]’s own design with its own Hackaday.io project page.

Embedded below is a video overview of the button design being prepped and printed on a Blackbox printer, with a tool change happening in the process. Tool changing is an attractive feature that many people including E3D have taken a swing at, and it’s always exciting to see it in action.

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