Introduction: 3D Printed SMD Soldering Vice

About: I'm an electronic engineering student. I don't usually have much spare time but I like to work on random projects to keep myself entertained. I hope you like them!

SMD soldering is already difficult enough with the proper tools, let's not make it harder than it should be.

In this instructable I will show you how to make a vice to hold your PCBs with things you probably already have laying around your house. This vice features a simple yet sturdy construction and a USB microscope holder to help you solder even the tiniest components with ease.


  • 2x 40x8mm Stainless Steel Rods (I got them from old, broken printers)
  • 4x 30mm M3 Screws
  • 4x Small Washers
  • 4x M3 Threaded Inserts
  • 2x 6mm x 20mm Springs
  • 1x Generic USB Microscope

Step 1: 3D Printing

This clamp uses 15 different 3D printed parts. The part list and the recommended printing orientation is on the image above. The files below follow the same order as the images, from left to right, top to bottom.

Some parts rely on tight fits, like the base, while other parts, like the clamps, rely on tight tolerances to make them slide along the rods without slack. I printed everything at 0.2mm layer height, many printers should be able to work with these tolerances. If you're not sure, I've included a "test" part with multiple holes with multiple diameters, so you can test the fit before printing the pieces. I've uploaded the .f3d file in case you want to make any changes to it.

You can download all files below or you can go to Fusion 360's hub

Step 2: Cutting the Rods to Length

If you're like me, you've probably used a couple of 8mm rods from some old printers, those are probably too long and need to be cut in half so that each of them measures roughly 20cm. It's important to measure carefully, since the cut should be exactly at the center.

Step 3: Assembly: the Knobs

These little knobs are used to adjust the height of the PCB holder, the width of the clamps and the position of the microscope. The knobs are meant to be used in conjunction with 4mm wide threaded inserts, which will need to be inserted into the corresponding holes with a soldering iton, but you can always edit the holes to accept threaded inserts with different diameters or even tap the holes yourself, although I don't recommend this. -
If you haven't started using threaded inserts in your 3D prints I suggest you give them a try, they're easy to install and really sturdy.

These knobs are designed to be used with 30mm M3 screws. The holes are tapped before screwing them and a little epoxy is added to the screws to make sure they stay in place.

Step 4: Assembly: the Base

We will start by inserting the 8mm rods in the holes at the base. The fit should be quite tight, don't be afraid to use a small mallet. Make sure they're all the way in.

Step 5: Assembly: the Holder

I call this part the holder because it holds many things in place. Two rods need to be press fit into the sides, these rods shouldn't move, so it's important they're tightly secured. You can use some glue if they're not as tight as they should be.
The jaws are placed first, then the adjustable stops which will press the clamp against the PCB with a 6mm spring.
The holder clamp locks the holder assembly in place with the help of a knob, so it can be moved up and down as needed. Washers are used between the knobs and the bodies to reduce friction.

Step 6: Assembly: Microscope Holder

These pieces are stacked on top of each other and secured with a knob. The microscope holder can rotate 360 degrees and the arm of the microscope can be extended 7cm, enough to cover all the area you might need.

The base of the microscope holder is press fit onto the rods.

Step 7: Assembly: Final Steps

After fitting everything together, place the two springs between the stops and the clamps, these springs will push the clamp jaws against the PCB, making serial production easy and fast. Just set the clamps once and forget about them.

The USB microscope snaps securely into place. This USB microscope is cheap, but provides a decent video feed and a good working distance. I made a 3D printed light diffuser for it, which improves the image quality a bit. The file is provided below.

I've added a couple images so you can judge the microscope's resolution by yourself. As well as a before-after installing the diffuser. Certainly there are better things outs there, but this microscope offers the best bang per buck.

If you liked this instructable or think it's useful, please consider adding your vote. Thanks :)

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