While browsing Instructables recently I came across a series of 3D printed straw connectors made by amandaghassaei. With theses connectors you can make really intertesting sculptures from plain old drinking straws. I found the sculptures positively amazing, and I got to thinking how cool it would be if there were a to animate them. After studying those connectors, and the original LINX system, I came up with is a small, spring loaded plastic hinge with holes that let thread slip inside of the straw. When a series of the hinges are connected and the string is pulled, the hinges bend and the straws flap about as if they were alive!

Materials and Tools
3D Printed Hinge Parts
Smalls Springs from Mico-Mark Spring Assortment
Strong Thread
Drinking Straws - 7.2 mm Inside Diameter
Key Rings, aka Split Rings

Step 1: 3D Printed Parts

I've attached the files for my most recent version of the hinges to this Instructable, feel free to print them as is or modify them to your liking. I've successfully printed these files using an Objet printer and an Up3D printer, and I'm fairly sure they would work well with anything that can extrude ABS. These files were originally designed using 123D beta 9, but I've since moved them over to Inventor Fusion.

If you do choose to design your own, be sure to consider the following:
  • Flexibility of Material - The inner parts need to flex a bit so that they can snap together
  • Hinge Pivot Clearance - To provide free movement, the pivot holes in the first half of the hinge need to be a bit larger than the circular pegs on the second half. In this version there is a .01mm gap between the two.
  • Spring Size - Inside the hinge there are holes exactly the right diameter and depth for the springs I used. If you are starting from scratch, ensure your springs will fit by finding them first and designing around them.
Now I can finally follow my dreams and make a straw man
<p>Very funny!</p>
Very good design. The movements are almost lifelike. <br>I think that your design could work well incorporated into a suitable mask as moving tentacles for Cthulhu mythos creatures or insectoid mouth parts.
This is so original and inspiring! <br>Love the instructable and want to make this as well. <br> <br>Can you put the STL on Thingiverse as well? With some pictures of course, and a link to this instructable. I am sure you will get featured on the main page very quickly.
Thank you sir! That's a good idea, I just uploaded it there as per your suggestion.
Under what username ?
Great idea and well designed. <br>Perhaps it's easier [and cheaper] to use a strip of semi-flexible plastic as a spring. It only needs to jump back, right? <br>If you choose the right material and thickness, you might even 3D print the spring strip in one go and use it as the hinge at the same time.
Thank you for your kind words,<br> Hmm, it sure would be much easier since it would take the wire springs out of the equation all together and there would only be one piece. Hmmmmm, I'm working with ABS, but that could be made into a curvy shape to help it flex...omg that would work :O<br> Thanks allarrrd, that is brilliant! I'm going to try this later today!<br>
You could also use the spring to make a hinge that can swing in any direction, by making two separate endcaps with the spring in between. Hmmm... hard to explain what I mean. See enclosed pic.
This project remembers me to Tim Burton :P <br>Great project and instructable btw :)
ty, I totally see it! That explains why kept thinking about Beetlejuice when playing with these. Remember those curly arms of his?
If anybody finds a method for an 'affordable' hinge and spring 'kit', I'd be very interested in getting some - but not at $4 per hinge (and the spring selection not available for shipping to Spain!)...
This is awesome! But, short of buying a 3D printer, Is there somewhere I can have the hinges printed?
There are plenty of 3d printing providers out there. Just to name a few:&nbsp; <a href="http://www.shapeways.com/" rel="nofollow">shapeways</a>, <a href="https://www.ponoko.com/" rel="nofollow">ponoko</a>, and <a href="http://i.materialise.com/" rel="nofollow">i.materialise.</a><br> <br> I uploaded the models to shapeways (<a href="http://www.shapeways.com/model/848546/sw-finger-hinge-v2-part2.html?li=my-models&key=51ee5d740106f85f0e61a97ed603a092" rel="nofollow">here</a>) and it looks like they come out to about $4 for a single hinge. That's a little pricey in my opinion, but I bet you could rig up something similar with a wooden dowel that is slightly wider than the straw.&nbsp;<br> <br> Instead of a hinge the spring itself could act like a hinge and slots for the thread could be filed into the side of the dowel. Just a thought
Sweet! Fav'd, I wanna make a caterpillar that actually moves like a caterpillar with this :-)
A work if genius!
You're too kind, ty :D
that is so cool
Why thank you sir
your second video is coming up as private and hence I'm not able to view it. <br>Great idea though.
Whoops, I think it should be working now (This here internet machine sure has a lot of buttons and check boxes.) <br>Thanks for the heads up and kudos :)
Whoops, I think it should be working now (This here internet machine sure has a lot of buttons and check boxes.) <br>Thanks for the heads up and kudos :)
Sweet instructable

About This Instructable


163 favorites


Bio: When I was young I took all of my toys apart just to see inside. Eventually I learned how to put them back together.
More by Tomdf: Star Trek Doorbell Hack Sculpting with Polymer Clay Gear Set for 3D Printing
Add instructable to: