Dremel Workstation’s New Job: Applying Threaded Inserts With Cheap Soldering Iron

Dremel has been helping people fit square pegs into round holes for years, and [concretedog] saw that the Dremel 220 Workstation — a piece of hardware similar to a drill press — could be convinced to hold a cheap soldering iron just as easily as it holds a rotary tool. A soldering iron makes an effective thermal insert tool, and the job of heating and pressing the threaded metal rings into plastic is made much easier when it can be done similar to operating a drill press. With a few modifications and a 3D-printed adapter, the thermal insert rig was born.

Whenever one is working around a design that already exists, it pays to be flexible and adjust to the unexpected. The Dremel 220 has a holder intended to clamp a rotary tool, and the original plan was to simply design and print an adapter so a soldering iron could sit in place of the rotary tool. That plan changed upon realizing that the entire rotary tool holder disconnected from the tool’s frame with a single bolt. It made much more sense to make the soldering iron replace the rotary tool holder, instead.

The resulting modified soldering iron is mounted via standoffs to a 3D-printed adapter with a copper foil heat shield. [concretedog] admits it’s not ideal from a heat management perspective, but it makes a fine prototype that seems to work well for light duty. The next step would be a metal version.

If you’re intrigued by threaded heat-set inserts, you can learn all about how to use them from Joshua Vasquez’s guide to the handy things. And should you prefer to make your own DIY press from 3D printed parts and off-the-shelf hardware, we have that covered as well.

3D Print Your Own Thermal Insert Press

Thermal inserts are a big thing when it comes to engineering with plastic. They make it easy to use threaded fasteners with plastic parts, and they work great with 3D printing too. There’s a bit of a knack to installing them without damaging your workpiece, however, and [John Culbertson] wanted to make using them as easy as possible. Thus, he created a thermal insert press of his very own!

If you’re not using heat-set inserts with your 3D printed parts you’re missing out. Hackaday’s own [Joshua Vasquez] wrote a great guide on thermal inserts which you heat up to securely melt the plastic as they are pushed into a slightly under-sized hole. While it’s possible to install these inserts by hand, using a press means much more consistent results.

This press relies on 3D printed components in combination with off-the-shelf bearings and fasteners. There’s a linear rail as well, to give the soldering iron a  clean, smooth downward motion. This helps make sure that the inserts go in straight and true, first time, every time. We’ve seen other DIY builds before, like this modified arbor press that gets the job done. Continue reading “3D Print Your Own Thermal Insert Press”