Introduction: PLA Power Cord Pulling Aid

When we were assigned a project to educate students in the 9th through 12th grade age range, we wanted to take a multi-faceted approach to teaching. The primary purpose of this project is to help students familiarize themselves with the software and machines involved in creating an assistive device to enhance their technological literacy. However, this project also helps plant the seed for outside-of-the-box thinking, innovation in low-cost assistive devices, and greater compassion for the daily challenges faced by those who may not be as able-bodied. Once students have completed their projects, they may choose to keep them, or they may donate them to facilities and agencies which can use the device such as nursing homes, retirement centers, rehabilitation facilities, and occupational therapy clinics. In this way, this project can foster a mindset of giving, as well as preventing the materials used and end products from going to waste. This tutorial may also be used by anyone looking for an assistive device to help solve an everyday problem for those with grip strength limitations.

The Standards for Technological Literacy, STL 14 - K of the Designed World states: Medical technologies include prevention and rehabilitation, vaccines and pharmaceuticals, medical and surgical procedures, genetic engineering, and the systems within which health is protected and maintained.

Focusing on the rehabilitation aspect, we have chosen to create a simple device to assist people who lack grip strength unplug power cords from outlets.


  • Computer
  • Solidworks or other 3D CAD software
  • 3D Printer
  • Cura or comparable 3D printing software
  • PLA Filament (In the color of choice)
  • A sheet of course sandpaper
  • Side Cutting Pliers
  • Paint Scraper
  • 2 Zip Ties

Step 1: Creating the 3D Design

We will need to create a 3D part using Solidworks or comparable 3D CAD software based on the rough sketch above. Below are the specific steps that we took to create our Cord Puller.

  1. Open SolidWorks on your computer.
  2. Create new part, and make sure to set the scale in inches.
  3. On the horizontal plane, from the origin, start a sketch with a line and start sketching the general shape of the piece. Do not draw the contained interior holes yet.
  4. When the rough sketch is completed, define the lengths of the lines and arcs, and set relations.
  5. Extrude the sketch ⅛”.
  6. On the top surface, sketch out the holes
  7. Define the hole locations relative to edges and points of the extrude, as well as their sizes, and set relations.
  8. Select the sketch in the feature tree and then extrude cut to cut all the holes at once. Select all the edges and chamfer them 1/32”.
  9. Export as a .STL file for printing.

Step 2: Printing

We will need to prepare the printer and upload the .STL file to the printing software.

  1. Snip filament end and insert into the extruder nozzle.
  2. Clean print surface.
  3. Open printing software, and import the .STL file. (We used Cura)
  4. Within the software enter filament material, thickness, and extruder temp. For PLA we used 1.75mm thickness and set the extruder for 205 degrees.
  5. Start printing! (Depending on the printer this may take a couple hours)

Step 3: Sanding

Remove the printed tool from the printer once it has cooled. Using a sheet of course sandpaper, gently sand down the edges of the tool to get rid of any rough points created during printing.

Step 4: Assembly

NOW YOU’RE DONE! Your tool is ready to be attached to any power cord. To do this you will simply need to place the cord on top of the tool, secure it with two zip ties, and tuck the wire into the cord management slot.