Embedded Metal-3D Printed Chip-Clip for the Kitchen




Introduction: Embedded Metal-3D Printed Chip-Clip for the Kitchen

About: Old inventor, reverted back to my 10 year-old self. A shop full of tools, a boat, race car, 3D printer and a beautiful wife who wants me to invent things for around the house... Now how cool is that?

It was suggested that I make instructables of items I've printed with plastic and other materials combined.  The technique I use is quite simple and can be done by anyone who has access to a 3D printer.

The first project is a simple clip that can be screwed to the face of any kitchen cabinet.  My wife loves potato chips and there were usually several bags piled up around the toaster.  I made these clips to get them off the counter and out where she could see them.  They've been in use for over a year and they've rarely been empty.

This project uses a single 3D printed part and items you can usually find around the house.  I've been using ABS for all of my embedded projects, but this should work with PLA or Nylon as well.

OK... Time to go through your toolbox, desk drawers and refrigerator to get the bits you'll need.

Step 1: What You'll Need

A 3D printer is absolutely necessary.  Even Elementary Schools are getting on the bandwagon, so there should be a machine accessible to just about everyone who's reading this.  Schools, both public and private are always looking for interesting projects their students can get involved with.  If you ask around, you're going to find someone, a business or organization that'll let you try out this technology.  Layered deposition has actually been around for about 40 years.  It's the robotic part that's kept it from being the simple process we see today.

Next, go to your desk and find a large spring steel paper clip.  The large size isn't very useful for household paper clamping, so this will be an excellent way to put the ones you dig out to good use.

From your tool box, you'll need a wood screw, washer and if you don't want the screw to show, a plastic screw cap.

Now, go to your freezer and pull out a few popsicles.  Hand a couple to your kids, who'll most likely be asking you why you're raiding their stash.

Once the popsicles are gone, save the sticks.

Other than a drill, screwdriver, a pair of pliers and the stl file at the end of this instructible, that's it...

Let's get to work.

Step 2: The Print

Download the STL file attached at the end of this instructible.  Set it up so there's room on your build platform to place the clamp in front of the part when the time comes.  

Start the print.

After your printer begins to make the outline of the clamp's steel wires in the center of the piece, set 3 or 4 of your popsicle sticks in front of the build as shown.  DO NOT set the sticks out early.  Until the piece is taller than the thickness of the popsicle sticks, your extruders may run into them, drag them around, tear up your print, and in general, ruin your day.

Now, watch closely as the print begins to take shape.  Pay special attention to the area between the openings for the clip's wires.  In a bit, you'll notice the extruder will start making a small bump on the face of the build, exactly half way between the openings.  Now wait until the extruder builds a layer without making the bump.  When the head of the printer moves to the back part of the print, push your printer's "PAUSE" button.

CAREFULLY fit the wire of your paper clip into the hollowed out portion of the print.  If the wire doesn't fit, use your pliers to bend and coax it into shape so it fits.

DO NOT force the wires into the opening, as that could break the print free from the build plate and you'll be starting over.

Once the paper clip wire is in place, adjust your popsicle sticks so it stays flat and out of the way.  The hollowed out portion in the plastic should be deep enough so the wires of your clip don't stick above the plastic.  If they do, file the wire down until the extruder can safely pass over it without hitting.

Now, press the pause button again (or whatever you need to do to un-pause your printer) and carefully monitor the clip and the print.  You may need to hold the clip down with your fingers or another popsicle stick until the printer covers the wires and the parts stabilize.

If the clip interferes with your printer's head or rails, you can remove the wire completely from the spring steel portion of the clip and rest the wire, by itself, on the popsicle sticks.  The wire may twist, and because it has very little mass, may need additional attention during the second half of the print to keep it stable.

When the print is complete, you'll have a metal, spring clamp embedded inside your plastic, 3D printed "push" button.  With your pliers, bend the wires where they exit from the plastic about 45 degrees, as I've done in the second to last photograph.   When the clip is relaxed, the plastic button should sit nearly parallel with the wire on the opposite side of the clip as the last photograph shows.

Step 3: The Installation

Now you're ready to hang it. Prepare the place where you want it to be. Drill a hole, about 1/2" to 3/4" up from the bottom of the cupboard and collect your hardware in this order, from the bottom up:

1: Washer
2: Plastic Cap
3: Screw

Now, holding the un-embedded wire in front of the hole you just drilled, push the tip of the screw through the center of the wire loop and into the hole. The washer should be large enough to prevent the wire from jumping off. Screw everything down snug, and snap the cap closed.

Congratulations. You've successfully made a single component part made from spring steel, wire and plastic on your 3D printer. All that's left to do is to add your potato chip, popcorn or pretzel bag and head for the refrigerator for another popsicle.

Check out this other 3D plastic/metal project I'm working on:


Step 4:

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