Introduction: Pencil Grip (concept)

This instructable is designed for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades of grammar school, but is also suitable for anyone who sees the future in 3D printing.

(hyperlinks are coloured text)

Step 1: Orientation

Step 2: Brainstorm

Step 3: Design tools

Step 4: Design

Step 5: 3D printers

Step 6: Material

Step 7: Prototyping

Step 8: Results

Step 9: Additional information

It started of with the following idea...

What if you would design something, to produce with a thing you don't have and sell this something, so you can buy the thing to produce it with?


Maybe this Prezi will help.

Finally I came up with a pencil grip.

A pencil grip helps you to develop good handwriting.

But how and with what material do you make it? Besides that... the main goal is to develope something that is usefull and that you yourselves can design and produce.

This is where my quest began...

If you want to follow in my footsteps, you need the following things:

(the links are just suggestions for where you can find stuff in the Netherlands)




Step 1: Orientation

The proper pencil grip

  1. Put your thumb and forefinger just above the cone shaped part of your pencil (picture 2).
  2. Let the pencil rest between your thumb and forefinger.
  3. Put your middle finger underneath for support.

This is also called the 3-point grip (picture 3).

There are a lot of rubber pencil grips on the market to support this 3-point grip. What most have in common is a triangular cross section (picture 4).

The size of the pencil grips range from 1,5 to 4 cm.


Pencils come in a lot of different colors but their cross section size is about the same. For a standard school pencil this measures 8 mm. Some pencils have an integrated pencil grip (picture 5).

Step 2: Brainstorm

With this in mind I started drawing.

required properties:

  • three-point grip supporting
  • anti-roll
  • free design tool
  • easy to design
  • easy to produce
  • ergonomic

The concepts evolved from ergonomic and organic shapes (pictures 1, 2, 3) to more basic designs. I ended up playing with different mathematical objects such as a cube, cylinder, prism and cuboid (pictures 4, 5, 6). This seemed to me the easiest to design and produce at that moment.

There are already ways to create 3D scans of, for example, a clay print. This is still in its infancy but it will quickly belong to the possibilities. Then the grips can be custom designed for anyones hand.

I also came up with some other idea's (picture 6):

  • You could make a dice with a hole instead of one dot. This could be the base for tour pencil.
  • You could add a scale to your pencil grip.
  • You could add your name to your pencil grip.

A prism shaped pencil grip met all the requirements.

Step 3: Design Tools

Digital Design

3D printing starts with making a virtual design of the object you want to create. This virtual design is made in a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file using a 3D modeling program (for the creation of a totally new object) or with the use of a 3D scanner (to copy an existing object).

To prepare a digital file for printing, the 3D modeling software “slices” the final model into hundreds or thousands of horizontal layers. This fileformat is called .STL.

There is a lot of free 3D modeling software around. It is even possible to design with Minecraft.

I chose to learn more about two of them:

Sketchup make:


Sketchup works as a sketchbook. Without digital pen and touch tablet, this is almost impossible. In addition to that it has to be installed on your computer. It's not web-based and therefore less mobile.

Tinkercad works almost like Lego. It contains standard shapes which enables you to compose a design. You can also crop to form other shapes. In addition Tinkercad is web-based so you can design anything from anywhere. All you need is internet.

I have chosen to design my pencil grip in Tinkercad because this program is the most user-friendly for a layman.

Step 4: Design

FIRSTtake some Tinkercad lessons.

Then take the following 10 steps:

  1. Start Tinkering and create a new design. The toolbar on the right side of the screen holds geomatric shapes
  2. Click and drag the prism to your workplane. Determine its size. (mine was 2,1 cm by 3,4 cm)
  3. Click and drag the cilinder to your workplane
  4. tilt the cilinder horizontaly
  5. turn the cilinder 90 degrees
  6. bring down the cross section size of the cilinder to the cross section size of a pencil (8 mm)
  7. turn the cilinder 90 degrees so its situated paralell of the prism. Enlarge the cilinder so it's a bit longer than the prism.
  8. turn your workplane 90 degrees
  9. push the cilinder into the centre of the prism so it's both ends stick out
  10. select the cilinder and click the 'hole' button. Select your complete shape and click the 'group' button

Congratulations!!! You have designed your own pencil grip.

Now whe can download the shape's file for 3D printing

  1. Click the 'design' button (left upper corner)
  2. Choose 'download for 3D printing'
  3. Choose '.STL' (this is the file format most printers can read)

Step 5: 3D Printers

When the sliced (.STL-) file is uploaded in a 3D printer, the object can
be created layer by layer. The 3D printer reads every slice (or 2D image) and creates the object, blending each layer with hardly any visible sign of the layers, with as a result the three dimensional object.

Personal 3D printing or domestic 3D printing used to be mainly for hobbyists and
enthusiasts and really started growing in 2011. Because of rapid development within this new market printers are getting cheaper and cheaper, with prices typically in the range of $250 – $2,500. This puts 3D printers into more and more hands.

Not all 3D printers use the same technology. There are several ways to print and all those available are additive, differing mainly in the way layers are build to create the final object.

Some methods use melting or softening material to produce the layers (picture 1). The most commonly used technology in this process is Fused deposition modeling (FDM).The FDM technology (picture 2) works using a plastic filament or metal wire which is unwound from a coil and supplying material to an extrusion nozzle which can turn the flow on and off. The nozzle is heated to melt the material and can be moved in both horizontal and vertical directions by a numerically controlled mechanism, directly controlled by a computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software package. The object is produced by extruding melted material to form layers as the material hardens immediately after extrusion from the nozzle.

There are a lot of FDM printers on the market.

One of the cheapest desktop printers at this time costs 300 Euro's (picture 3).

There's already a 3D printer available that can both scan and print (picture 4).

I chose to work with the Ultimaker original (picture 5).

The Ultimaker original is not a plug and play printer as assembly is required. While Kits aren’t for everyone, they lower the cost and building a printer part by part is a great learning experience. Ultimaker has a large and active 3D printing communitie.

Step 6: Material


FDM is most widely used with two plastic filament material types: ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), this is the stuff Lego's made of, and PLA (Polylactic acid).


Print at: 210-240º C

Heated bed: 80º C or more

Use: knife handles, car phone mounts, phone cases, toys etc.

  • ABS has a glass transition zone (the temperature that the plastic starts to soften at) of 105º C

  • ABS tends to be very easy to print with. It’ll extrude beautifully from most hot-ends without fear of jamming or clogging.

  • It’s a little difficult to deal with once it has been extruded, since it loves to shrink as it cools. Therefore a heated bed is a must.

  • ABS is a rather strong plastic.

  • ABS has a decent amount of flex to it and it tends to bend under pressure.

  • ABS has a strong (chemical) smell while printing.


Print at: 180 – 200º C

Heated bed: not necessary. 60º C recommended

Use: boxes, gifts, models, prototype parts, pencil grips

  • Biodegradable.
  • PLA’s glass transition temp is only 60º C, this limits how you can use this plastic.

  • PLA users sometimes have difficulties with jamming in the hot-end
    (especially all-metal hot end users) due to the sticky and expanding nature of PLA as it melts.

  • PLA doesn't schrink.
  • PLA prints massive prints in open framed printers with little fear of lifting from the bed, warping or cracking.

  • PLA is a great filament to use when showing off your printer in a public setting.

  • PLA, tends to be a little more brittle than other plastics.

The first pencil grip prototypes were printed with regular PLA filament. I later started experimenting with a more felxible PLA type. This gave the pencil grip a non slip, rubbery feel.

Step 7: Prototyping


STL bestand

pallet mes gebruiken om prototype van de ... af te halen

Step 8: Results

So now we have transformed a normal pencil into an ergonomic, 3-point grip supporting, writing tool.

Step 9: Additional Information