Monday, May 28, 2012

Something Useful #1 - Nail or Screw Holder

One of the roadblocks all of us have encountered when we initially try to introduce 3D printing to people is the completely false idea that smaller 3D printers are only good for making plastic novelties and trinkets.

Some of that is our fault.  Most of the samples we see are little more than trinkets we can pick up in local stores for a few bucks.  And, at first glance, even the art objects that we show people have little value because they are printed in plastic... not silver.

However, as this blog moves forward, count on us showing how a plastic extruding 3D printer can become an artists favorite tool.  But, first, let's begin by showing that the Cube can make some seriously USEFUL items.


Just about everybody who has ever done any manual work has had an idea come to their mind of a tool that would be REALLY useful for this or that particular job.  I know that I certainly have.  But, most of the ideas I have come up with would never be commercially available either because the job it would do would be so specialized that demand would be too low for the mass market.  Or, there would be issues with potential breakage.

Both of these things are probably true of the item I am about to introduce.

But, that is the beauty of 3D printing and having a distribution system like Cubify.  I can design something for myself and simply upload it.  If there are only one or two other people with a need for that same item then fine.  It didn't cost me all that much to design and upload it.

But, it may be that hundreds or thousands of people have been longing for that same solution at something in the past or will in the future.  Frankly, when you hear the item I just uploaded, you'll understand why I hope that all those that love 3D printing have fat fingers or bad aim with a hammer just like I do.


I cannot tell you how many times I have hit a thumb or finger trying to aim at the head of a nail.  I have ALWAYS wished for a tool to hold the nail so that if damage is to be done it will NOT be done to my finger.  So, let me introduce my first candidate for being included in the USEFUL CUBE PRINTED ITEMS category.  Let's take a look at the design.

But, before I do, let me say this.  I designed it for ME.  I am NOT a professional product designer.  I make the design available.  But, PLEASE wear eye protection if you download and use this item.  And, realize that you do so at your own risk.

That being said, let me explain how I designed this to keep me from crushing my own fingers and to be the most versatile at doing so.

Nail Holder System
As you can see, the components consist of a handle and two types of tips for holding different sizes of nails or screws.  I will be creating a video that shows how the handle and inserts were created using Moment of Inspiration.

Nail Holder - Top View
The above top view shows that I purposely designed that handle hole and the inserts in a pentagonal shape.  I have found that the 5-sided shape significantly reduces the need for support materials.  When I first designed and printed the handle it was oriented on its side and the pentagonal hole didn't need support even in that orientation.  But, the outside of the handle did.  I reduced that need for support by the present vertical orientation of the handle.

Nail Holder - Side view of the Insert able Tip

The inserts that actually hold the nails are designed to lay flat on the surface in which the nail is to be drive.  The insert end is offset for finger clearance.  This means, of course, that some support is needed under the insert end of the tip.  But, it's minimal and easily removed. 

Nail Holder Minimal Support Requirements

But, the most useful view, as usual, is the 3D View that allows us to see all the critical design elements at one time. The slots in the front allow us to slide that holder off of the nail once it has been driven enough to be stable on its own.

Nail Holder and 2 Tips for Different Sizes.

The combo STL file has been uploaded to the Cubify Store at this Location.  Again, as with all my designs, it is available at $3 or Cubify's lowest allowable cost.   I tried to also upload a zip file that contains an STL for each component so that you would not have to print out all the pieces should one need to be replaced.  I have NO clue where that ended up????

But, I will find a way to add that so that you don't have to pay for an STL for each of the individual components.  The handle should be useful for new things that you design.  Because it is tapered, there is no need to be exactly the right size for an insert to work.

I hope this proves that the Cube and 3D printers CAN create items that are useful in our everyday lives and make those lives just a little bit better.  I know that days

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