Introduction: Anti-Slip Writing Aids

Some people have mobility in only one arm and can have difficulty holding paper still while they write. We developed several devices to help such individuals:

1. A grippy mat with a fabric cover. This design is very simple to assemble and only requires some Dycem grippy material and a few household items.

2. A grippy folder. The design uses Dycem grippy material on the top and bottom of a plastic folder to allow for paper storage as well as writing. The folder is held closed with magnets. Skip to step 20 for instructions on how to build the folder.

3. A clipboard usable with one hand. Small squares of grippy material on the bottom keep the clipboard from sliding around. It features an intuitive, adaptive, 3D printable clip that is easy to use with one hand. This design is more complicated, but it can be used on non-rigid surfaces. Skip to step 7 for instructions on how to build the clipboard.

To see how each design is used and learn more about it's features, watch the video above.

Look at the the project requirements documents listing pros and cons of current and previous versions.

There are a few other options for holding paper still that should be considered. See the competitor analysis infographic above.

Click here to see our references.

Click here to see our decision matrices.

Step 1: Grippy Mat: Tools and Materials

To build a grippy mat, you will need the following materials:

  • Roll of Dycem Non-Slip Material (see this)
    • $22.50
    • Enough to make ~ 3 mats
  • Clear Report Covers (see this)
    • Need only one cover to make one mat
    • Should be inexpensive at the local dollar store
  • Cloth/Fabric (do not use felt or similar fabrics that will shed, these may decrease the longevity of the Dycem)
    • You can cut and use an old bedsheet as a less expensive alternative
    • Should cost about a dollar
  • Pair of Scissors or an Exacto knife
  • Optional: Sewing Machine/Needle and Thread

Step 2: Grippy Mat: Cut Out Dycem

Using an Exacto knife or scissors, cut out a piece of Dycem material that is a bit bigger than a standard piece of paper.

Step 3: Grippy Mat: Cut Out Fabric

Using scissors, cut out a piece of fabric that is a bit bigger than the piece of Dycem.

Optional but recommended: Hem the fabric to improve durability and make it look cleaner. If you choose to hem, you need to allow extra room when cutting the fabric to ensure that the final product will still be bigger than the Dycem.

Step 4: Grippy Mat: Take Off Clip

Take the plastic clip off the report cover. Do not throw away; you will need the clip later.

Cut out an approximately 1" strip of plastic from the long side of the report cover and fold it lengthwise.

Step 5: Grippy Mat: Assembly

Line up the fabric sheet on top of the Dycem.

Fold the plastic strip over the short side of the fabric and Dycem.

Slide the clip over the plastic strip to keep the fabric and Dycem together, and your grippy mat is complete.

Step 6: Grippy Mat: Complete

Congratulations, you now have a grippy mat.

Step 7: Grippy Clipboard: Tools and Materials

The grippy clipboard requires the following materials:

  • Fiberboard
  • 1.75'' inch long screw (8-32 screw with 3/32 inch allen key head or Philips head)
  • 2 0.75'' inch long screws (8-32 screw with 3/32 inch allen key head or Philips head)
  • 2 8-32 nylock nuts
  • 2 nylon nuts or two more 8-32 nylock nuts.
    • Important: By nylon nuts we do not mean nylock nuts. We mean 7mm long nylon spacers that have been threaded to fit onto the screw. We used these, but they were pretty difficult to drill out to the appropriate inner diameter and to thread. They often cracked. You have to be very slow and careful. Alternatively, you can use two more 8-32 nylock nuts. Then make tension adjustments a little more difficult, but they are more robust and make assembly of the clipboard easier. See step 14 for more information.
  • Dycem Non-Slip Material
  • Clear polyurethane spray
  • 2 springs (see step 14 for more information on spring options. We had success with these 15 mm long Makerbot extruder springs with 1.2 mm wire, 9 mm OD, 6.5 mm ID. We also had success with a variety of other springs from a local hardware store.)
  • Liquid super glue

You will also need the following tools:

  • 3D printer
  • Saw (We had success cutting the fiberboard with a Japanese hand saw and a table saw. Other saws will likely also work.)
  • Allen wrench/screw driver
  • Scissors
  • Knife (optional, but may be necessary depending on how fancy you make your clipboard)

Step 8: Grippy Clipboard: Cut Fiberboard

Cut out a piece of fiberboard about 10''x12'', or to fit the size paper you desire. Warning: Make sure your board will still fit the adaptive clip!

Fiberboard isn't very hard. We have had success cutting it with a Japanese hand saw and a table saw. Other saws may also work.

Step 9: Grippy Clipboard: Polyurethane

Coat the fiberboard in 5 to 10 coats of polyurethane. Allow each coat of polyurethane to dry before applying the next coat. This keeps the board from absorbing water. It also provides the the surface with a little grit that helps hold the paper in place. Sand down any large bumps that would make writing difficult. If you would like, you can use a file to round the corners of the board. It is also a good idea to apply superglue to the corners to prevent delamination.

Step 10: Grippy Clipboard: Cut Dycem

Cut out at least four pieces of dycem grippy material. You may find you want more if the the clipboard will be used on irregular surfaces, or if it will be used while hanging half way off a table. Dycem can be cut with scissors or a knife. You can use a square of cardboard or something similar to keep the edges of your cuts straight and the size of your pieces consistent, if you care about that.

Step 11: Grippy Clipboard: Grippy Feet

Superglue a piece of dycem to each corner of the board and wherever else you want. If the clipboard will be used while hanging half way off a table, you may want a square of dycem in the center of the board.

Step 12: Grippy Clipboard: 3D Printing

3D print the clip. We used PLA filament with Makerbot Replicator V5's and Prusa i3 Mk3's, and both produced usable parts, although the surface quality of the Prusa prints was better. We have had success with 0.2 and 0.3 mm layer heights, but other values may also work. You can scroll down to the bottom of this step and click on the zip file to download all the .STL files for the clipboard. You can also download the .STL files for the parts from the Sketchfab windows below, or you can get them from Onshape. If you go to the Onshape document or download the zip file, you will be able to access other foot designs besides the one displayed here that may be better for you depending on the size of the spring you intend to use. The foot shown here in the Sketchfab window will not work very well with springs that do not have flat ends (they have been cut from a larger spring or they came that way). See step 15 for more information on the feet. The public has permission to copy the Onshape document, so feel free to experiment with design modifications. We would appreciate any feedback you can give us on how the design could be improved. Also, if you would like to print a clip that opens on the left side, there is a mirror image of the flex bar in the Onshape document. To download a .STL file from Onshape, right click the part and choose "export."

Flex Bar

Bottom Clip

Foot for Flat-ended Springs


Step 13: Grippy Clipboard: Screws

Use the allen wrench or screwdriver to fasten the screws to the clip, as shown in the images shown above.

Important: Depending on how your prints came out, the holes may be pretty tight for the hinge screw. It may be important to hold the long flexible beam tightly against the side of the bottom hinge piece closest to the screw head. If you don't do this, the long, flexible bar gets pinned up against the opposite wall as you start screwing it in, and the hinge becomes too stiff.

Important: If you want the clip to be easily adjustable, you can tighten the nuts on the long, flexible bar farthest away from the hinge just enough so the screw does not spin freely but can be turned by hand with a little pressure. This way, you will be able the turn the screw while holding the spring with the foot on it in the desired orientation, causing the foot to move up and down. If you tightened the nut all the way, the screw would not spin, and in order to adjust the hight of the foot you would have to spin the foot, thereby changing its orientation. You could only adjust it by full turns. That works too, though. It's up to you. Another option is to leave the whole thing loose, get it were you want it, and then tighten everything down fully. But then it will be harder to adjust later.

Step 14: Grippy Clipboard: Spring Nut Assembly

The are two options for this step. Choose the nut type that is most convenient for you.

Option 1: Use springs around 15 mm long. You can cut 15 mm sections from larger springs if necessary. Thread nylon spacers with the screws you will be using. Then superglue the spacers inside the springs as shown in the first picture above. This option may not work very well depending on the strength of the nylon spacers you use. Some have a tendency to crack when you try to thread them. Unless you have nylon spacers of the right size for your hardware on hand already, we do not recommend this option.

Option 2: Use springs around 10 mm long. You can cut 10 mm sections from larger springs if necessary. Superglue a nylock nut to the end of each of the springs as show in the second picture above. Don't worry about the plastic foot shown in the picture yet. It is best to try to fit the spring around the narrow end of the nut containing the nylon washer. Try to make sure the nut isn't tilted relative to the spring when you glue it on.

Step 15: Grippy Clipboard: Spring Foot

Superglue one side of a spring to the 3D printed foot, as shown in the images above. The foot that works best for you will depend on the spring you are using. If your spring has a flat end, you may find that the design without raised sides will work. If your spring does not have a flat end, you will want one of the designs with the deeper circular slot for the spring to slide into. Try to make sure the foot isn't tilted relative to the spring when you glue it on.

Step 16: Grippy Clipboard: Add Springs to Flex Bar

Screw the springs onto the screws on the clamp bar. The purpose of the foot on the outer edge is to keep the paper from bunching up. The bare springs grip the paper very well. When the clip is closed, the spring closest to the hinge hits the paper first. Then the outer foot comes down and slides slightly towards the other spring at the last second with the clipping action. This sideways slide can cause the paper to bunch up in between the springs if no foot is used. The foot slides across the paper a little better than the bare spring end and doesn't bunch up the paper.

Step 17: Grippy Clipboard: Super Glue Clip

Superglue the clip to the top left of the board (or right, if it is for someone who is left-handed). Then there are two options for attaching the bottom clip hook to the board.

Option 1: Eyeball it. Line it up against the top clip bar were it looks like it should go and superglue it there. If you have limited time and don't really care about adjusting how easy it is to clip and unclip the clip, this is the option for you. Skip steps 18 through 20.

Option 2: Make it adjustable! Follow steps 18 through 20. If the person who will use the clipboard has limited strength or you just want the clipboard to be perfect, this is the option for you. ⚠️ Warning: These steps require the use of a knife. Don't cut towards yourself or your other hand. Be careful. Ideally you should have some hand strength and some experience doing detailed work with knives. You may be able to avoid using a knife if you have a tool for making counterbores.

Step 18: Grippy Clipboard: Determine Clip Hole Position

Begin by aligning the bottom clip piece on the board against the top clip bar as shown in the first picture. Then trace around. After that, you can mark the locations of the holes to be drilled.

Step 19: Grippy Clipboard: Drill Clip Holes

Start by drilling two circular holes. If you are worried about making it look professional, go ahead and clean up the holes on the back side to keep pieces of fiberboard from pealing off. Then screw the clip on and test it to make sure you are in roughly the correct place before elongating the holes. Then use a drill and/or a knife to elongate the holes to allow for adjustability.

Step 20: Grippy Clipboard: Counterbores

Cut out a rectangle to allow the screws to sit flush with the surface of the board. If you have a counterbore tool, you may be able to use that. Apply superglue for added strength. Then loosely screw on the clip.

Step 21: Grippy Clipboard: Dycem on Top

Cut out a piece of dycem to match the foot and one slightly larger than the bottom of the springs you are using. Superglue them to the top of the board underneath the foot and the exposed spring.

Step 22: Grippy Clipboard: Final Adjustments

Congratulations, you have made a grippy clipboard. You can now adjust the vertical spring placement. If you opted for clip adjustability, you can also mess with the position of the bottom clip piece. Both the spring and the clip placement will affect how easy it is to clip and unclip the clipboard. If you did everything carefully, you should be able to adjust the clip such that is is possible to clip and unclip it with one finger without lifting up the board.

Step 23: Grippy Folder: Materials and Tools

  • Dycem Non-Slip Material Roll
  • Magnetic sheet
    • $5.00
    • Can be bought at A.C. Moore
  • Masking Tape
  • Super 77 by 3M Glue
    • $9.99
    • Can be bought at Home Depot
  • Paper cutter
  • Old newspapers

Step 24: Grippy Folder: Cut Magnets

Cut two thin strips of magnet with a paper cutter. The strips will go on the long sides of the folder.

Step 25: Grippy Folder: Glue Magnets

Place the magnets on the inside of the folder. Cover the rest of folder with newspapers and masking tape to prevent glue from getting sprayed on other parts of the folder.

Step 26: Grippy Folder: Spray Glue

Spray the glue over the back of the magnet strips and the uncovered part of the folder. Both the magnets and the folder need to be sprayed. Then, put the magnets into place, and allow the glue to dry.

Step 27: Grippy Folder: Cut Dycem

Cut two pieces of Dycem, each big enough to cover a side of the folder.

Step 28: Grippy Folder: Spray Glue

Repeat the process sued for gluing the magnets on the outside side of the folder. Cover excess areas with masking tape.

Then, spray both the Dycem and the folder with the glue, and place the Dycem over each side of the folder. Make sure there are no large air pockets, or the design may not be durable.

Step 29: Grippy Folder: Weight

Put a heavy book on the folder to firmly adhere the Dycem to the folder.

Step 30: Grippy Folder: Complete

Congratuations, you now have a grippy folder.

Step 31: Future Extensions:

In the future, the group would like to make the designs more adjustable.

The mat could have an external storage component as well to keep the pieces of Dycem that are still exposed more protected from dust.

The clipboard clip could be made adaptable for different paper sizes.

The folder could be made to use less Dycem, and the magnets could be adapted to not block any of the magnets.