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Problem:
For the classroom, workroom, or bedroom, most of us have pencil/tool boxes to store and transport our accessories. Most pencil boxes often have zippers or hinged covers that take up space when you open it. As we students keep growing up, school desks become smaller and smaller, and space is definitely limited.

Constraints:
With an increasing public interest in 3-D technology, we wanted to make our design easily 3-D printable. That means, in the design, there would be as little unsupported parts or hanging parts as possible. Also, we wanted the design to be as simple as possible. We also wanted to make it a suitable size for a typical school desk, so the pencil box size would be about 6 in. by 2.5 in., about the size of a Ti-84 calculator.

Step 1: Design

This design was inspired by the sliding mechanism of the lid of the Ti-84 calculator. It snaps shut well and doesn't occupy much space when open than when closed. Also, the design is very simple and easy to 3-D print since it doesn't have any huge hanging or unsupported parts.

The Design:
The lid contains a ridge that locks into place with the indent on the sides of the pencil box body. This allows the lid to snap shut. The 4-in. long ridge allows the lid to slide in and out of the 4-in. long indent. In addition, the indent is centered between the top and the bottom of the pencil box body. This allows the lid to fit perfectly when both open and closed and allows the pencil box to take as little space as possible. The design is also simple and doesn't contain any hard-to-print parts.

Step 2: Creating the Pencil Box

We used Autodesk Inventor Professional to model this pencil box design. We modeled two separate parts--the lid and the body. Both were easy to model except the ridge and the indent, which required a lot of precise measurements in order to fit the lid onto the case both open and closed. We made an assembly of the lid and the body to test whether the lid and the body would fit. In the end, using the assembly, the lid fit perfectly with body. In the assembly, it occupied the same amount of space when open as when closed.

Step 3: Conclusion

This may not be a huge leap in the design of pencil boxes, but it is one that is unique and addresses a problem common in most schools--space. This design helps address this problem by taking as limited space as possible. The pencil box itself may be big for some desks, but the sliding mechanism, a concept not popular among pencil boxes, is a unique way for saving space and for convenience.

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