Introduction: Stronger 3D Printing {3Bar} With Recycled Bicycle Spokes

Up-cycle bike spokes to construct stronger 3D printed constructs and assemblies

I stumbled upon a method to both solve a problem and save a little coin in the process using ‘trash’*; and thought to myself: “Hey; this might solve some other folk’s problems and save them a buck or two as well.” So I’ve created this Instructable showing how to use discarded bicycle spokes to strengthen 3D printed parts; which have strength and rigidity issues in some applications.

You can use the discarded bicycle spokes, trimmed to length with a pair of light duty bolt cutters, to stiffen and strengthen 3D printed items. Re-Bar for 3D-Printing ‘3Bar’; a similar concept to rebar for concrete foundations and structures. You can use various gauge wire to accomplish this same task but re-using old discarded bike spokes, which are ‘just the right size’ for most projects, seems more environmentally conscious, at least to me. And does not entail straightening the wire; saving time, effort and cash. It will even reduce the amount of trash we produce, win, win, win, and win.

The objective of this Instructables is to demonstrate various methods to use discarded bicycle spokes to strengthen and stiffen 3D printed parts. Not primarily to build the 3D Printer Tools Rack and other items, they are basically vehicles to demonstrate the methods, though quite useful in and of themselves; a 'bonus' so to speak.


*Incidentally, I have issues with that word ‘trash’; it’s not trash; it is pre-processed materials [PPM].

Step 1: Design Consideration

First: The bicycle spokes.

Bicycle spokes come in a variety of sizes, the most common are θ1.98mm-[5/64” - 0.0785in.] Stainless Steel; though I found one ‘set’ with a θ1.54mm shaft and a θ2.25mm (O.D.) thread size, and one set that is actually manufactured flat(ovoid) not round [... weirdness happens]. The most common spoke seems typically to be 290mm [11.4”] long, though this also varies. The threaded end(s) also vary from set to set. I’ve found them from θ1.75mm to θ2.5mm OD, with roughly 12 mm of thread length {~0.5”}; this seems to have no relationship to the shaft size either. It will be best to measure your spokes and design accordingly. Allow, at least, +R0.15mm clearances for the shaft (a very tight fit). The holes for the ‘Alternate Threaded Attachment’ method should be designed undersized slightly, roughly -R0.10mm to insure a tight coupling. Plastic is stretchy {I think that’s why they called it ‘Plastic’. [Insert sound effect: maniacal giggling]. For standard size spokes I design with R1.2 for both ‘slip fit’ and easy threading; and a 'loose fit' dimension of R1.3 when using epoxy. While it is obvious these ‘design’ numbers cannot be counted upon for tolerance purposes, because most ‘craft’ printers will only maintain +/-0.2 mm tolerance, I consistently achieve the desired results using these numbers.

Design items you wish to reinforce with a ‘nominal’ R1.2 mm thru-hole {use with standard spokes (Ø1.98mm)}; you can, or perhaps should, include an epoxy or glue {I recommend either Gorilla glue for a thicker application {when using a larger hole size compared to the shaft size}, or Tester plastic cement {aka: model glue} for the ‘normal’ 1.2mm thru holes; Dow’s E6000 {aka: Rubber Cement} also comes in handy for some applications but will also require a slightly larger thru hole}.

Additionally a R1.20 ‘slip fit’ for the shaft will still require self-threading for the entire length of the ‘slip’ when using the spoke as both reinforcement and attachment method; with the ‘center’ or attachment location design of R1.0mm (perhaps a bit less: R0.98mm); the second drawing above shows the attachment threading constriction centered within component B, and a 'normal' slip fit shaft length for the included {printable} 3D Printer Tools Rack design.

Step 2: Tools, Supplies & Technical Data (files Included):

Tools, Supplies & Technical Data (files Included)

1. 3D-Printer {Your choice. For the purpose of this “Instructables” I’m guessing/assuming you have one or have access to one; or perhaps only wish you did? They are quite inexpensive these days, less than $200 in several cases; as mine was}. Also note; the 3D printed parts for this Instructable were printed using PETG filament; simply because that’s what’s was on the spool I have loaded at the moment. You can probably print these items in any filament/material you like as there are no related temperature concerns for the finished items that I can think of. [I didn't include an image of a 3D printer :)]

2. Light duty bolt cutters

3. Sharpie brand marking pen or equivalent {something that will mark on stainless steel, your choice}

4. Discarded/Used bicycle spokes

Obtaining Used Spokes:

I found it to be extremely easy to obtain used/discarded/reusable bicycle spokes from the first bicycle repair shop I ask; at no charge in this case [your experience may differ]. Though simply removing them from an old rim yourself would serve the purpose just as well; or perhaps better as you could avoid the traffic/drive. Removing the spokes from the rim requires a special tool. Though the tool {see images} is inexpensive it’s typically not free {perhaps you could arrange something with the bicycle repair shop}. Simply clipping them out is an option but the rim would be rendered more difficult to salvage or re-use as well as limiting the various uses for the spoke itself. Used/Discarded bike spokes are quite versatile when combined with 3D printing.

5. Calipers

6. Hammer

7. Razor-knife

8. Needle-Noes pliers

9. Specialty Spoke Tools 0, 1 & 2

3D printed tool files: {included in 3Bar.Zip}

  • SpokeTool0-Extraction.stl
  • SpokeTool0-Insertion.stl
  • SpokeTool1.stl
  • SpokeTool2.stl

{print these first}

10. Demonstration/Practice Item File(s) [3D printable ‘Demonstration’ files (useful items)]: 3D Printer Tools Rack w/Support Legs [multiple files] & “Pub-Edu” Wall Mount Key Rack [single file]. (Not independently useful; demo only) Up-Cycle-BikeSpokes-ImbeddingSpokes practice print [single file]. Included in Zip file (below).

3D printed item files: {Included in 3Bar.Zip}

  • 3DPrinterToolsRack-A.stl
  • 3DPrinterToolsRack-A2.stl
  • 3DPrinterToolsRack-B.stl
  • 3DPrinterToolsRack-B2.stl
  • 3DPrinterToolsRack-C.stl
  • SandingBlockCaddy.stl {optional component}
  • ScraperCaddy.stl
  • ToolsRackLegsA.stl
  • ToolsRackLegsB.stl
  • Nubs.stl
  • UpCycle-BikeSpokes-ImbeddedSpokes.stl
  • PubEduKeyRack.stl

11. AutoCAD .dwg files [in case you would like to modify the designs]: Nubs.dwg, Spoketools.dwg, PubEduKeyRack.dwg, 3DPrintingToolsRack.dwg, and UpCycle-BikeSpokes-imbeddedSpokes.dwg; AutoCAD [.dwg] files and Component [.stl] files are included in the downloadable Zip file (below). {Drawing Dimensions in millimeters}.

12. Instructions: This document {also included in Zip file}

Also included is a list of tools that fit the 3D Printer Tools Rack; some of which you might wish to use during the project. If you have a 3D printer you probably have many, if not all, of these items already; but I’m including the list just in case. [ToolsList.docx] also included in the Zip file.


#1 – 3D Printer Tools Rack

#2 – Drop-In “3-bar” Puzzle Piece [Demo item]

#3 – ‘PubEdu’ Keys Rack {The result of years of public education}

… And off we go :)


Step 3: ​Methods

I recommend not cutting off the hooked end of the spoke until you are certain you won’t need to extract the puppy. Extraction is considerably easier with the hook intact and using tool#0 than it is with a pair of pliers or channel locks; and once any glue you use sets all bets are off.

Method 1: Spoke Insertion Post-Printing

For Method 1 we will be constructing/assembling the 3D-Printer Tools Rack. {See Step 37: Notes **}

Total combined print time for all the various components run {on my machine with the indicated settings} approximately 34 hrs. ; the associated instruction steps can be completed within that time frame as well.

{I let my machine run while I sleep/work/eat/etc.; it’s not particularly exciting to watch, and very rarely has "issues"}.

Actual assembly time is approximately 2 to 3 hrs., including post processing ‘clean-up’. Cost: About $10, not including tools you may need to purchase. Materials only.

Step 0 – Make coffee: {May not actually be necessary, but I’m certainly not going to risk it :)}

Step 4: Method 1 Step 1: Print Items [3D Printer Tools Rack]

Method 1 Step 1: Print Items [3D Printer Tools Rack]

Printer Settings:

Create the appropriate ‘GCode’ {print file} for your 3D-Printer. {I happen to be using an Anet-A8 {with minor upgrades} and the associated Cura 14.07 software.

  • 3DPrinterToolsRack-C.stl {print position as shown}
  • 3DPrinterToolsRack-B.stl {print position as shown}
  • 3DPrinterToolsRack-A.stl {print position as shown}
  • 3DPrinterToolsRack-B2.stl {print position as shown}
  • 3DPrinterToolsRack-A2.stl {print position as shown]
  • SandingBlockCady.stl {optional: print position as shown}
  • ScraperCady.stl [print position as shown (face down)]

Notice; You will require 3 sets of legs [A&B]; assembly instructions for the legs in a following step.

  • ToolsRackLegsA.stl {all 3 can be printed at once}
  • ToolsRackLegsB.stl {print position optionally facing up can be printed all at once, but not recommended}

The STL files are included in {above}.

Step 5: Method 1 Step 2: Assemble Tools Tray

Method 1 Step 2: Assemble Tools Tray

Assemble Components A, B & C. ‘puzzle pieces’. The first image is of Components C and B. Component A fits on the other end (view image 2). You can see the Dove Tail {Angled} Joinery feature just above the spoke. Matching Joinery adorns the connecting ends of all three units.

Step 6: Method 1A - Step 3: Parts Reinforcement Including Self-Threading Attachment

Method 1A - Step 3: Parts Reinforcement Including Self-Threading Attachment

We will be joining components A, B and C together. Providing additional strength and rigidity to the unit and forming a permanent attachment.

Leave the screw threads intact and spin-in/self-thread the spokes. While this is not as quick as a basic ‘press-fit’ it allows attachment to a different component to be more secure by taking advantage of the spokes screw-threads.

The Parts/3D-Printed items {B & C} have been designed with a loose fit for the shaft [R1.2mm], and a tighter fit [R1.0 mm constriction] for the screw thread(s) and a 12.7mm {1/2”} constriction [reduced internal section] within component B for threading purposes.

Self-Thread the spoke into place using tool-0

Lay the unit on a flat surface and clamping in place is the easiest method; but you can simply hold the unit and the tool in opposite hands and spin the tool. The spoke will self-thread and draw itself into the unit. It’s a bit slow without clamping, but quit functional. Masking tape would be sufficient to give the desired effect if you do not have a clamp. Once you’ve clamped the unit, hold the tool/shaft combination generally/basically as shown in the image above and spin the tool with your finger (twirl) while stabilizing the shaft with thumb and forefinger of the opposite hand until the spoke seats. It does not require much pressure on the tool end to spin the shaft in most cases. {I did make one ‘diameter-test-bore’ very tight; but was still able to get the shaft seated properly at R0.97. Though I do not recommend this as I can’t think of any good reason to do the extra work}. It would also be possible to use a power tool such as a drill or Dremel tool; though that seems a bit of overkill.

Step 7: Method 1A Step 4: Trim the Spokes

Method 1A Step 4: Trim the spokes

Trim the spokes, as close to the unit as possible using the light duty bolt cutters. {a ‘flush cut’ bolt cutter would be nice if you’ve got one for this application.}

--- A bit of ‘filing down’ of the end of the spoke may be necessary for some applications; or you can cover the exposed spoke-end with one of the ‘Nubs’ from the included files using epoxy [gorilla glue, or JB-weld] to attach the nub within the recessed cavity on the end of the units.

Notes: Method 1A

Files: {Nubs.dwg, Nub.stl} are included and contains ‘end nubs’ for covering the exposed bits if you don’t wish to file them down.

I didn’t use any glue or epoxy on mine; … it’s just a demo. My ‘stuff’ will end up scattered “all over hell's half acre” regardless of any ‘organizers’ and ‘racks’ I have in convenient locations; my ‘neatness gene’ apparently got snipped in some sort of early CRISPR experiment.

Once you file the ends of the spoke you will have no ‘easy’ method of separating components A, B & C.

Step 8: Method 1B: Press Fit for Mechanical Strength and Rigidity

Method 1B: Press Fit for Mechanical Strength and Rigidity

This method is perhaps the most useful, and occasionally necessary, as well as the easiest and simplest. Many 3D printed parts have ‘rather thin’ protrusions/arms which can easily be snapped off; such as the micro-drills case holder on component A at the far right end of image.

Including [designing in] a cavity/shaft or thru hole to allow insertion of a spoke-bit will significantly strengthen and stiffen the ‘arm’. In this case I have used a thru hole and use the feature for a dual purpose. Both to strengthen the support arm itself, this step, and for attachment of Component A2 in the next set of steps. This design is an R1.05 mm Press Fit thru hole [tight]; as the length is of a ‘medium’ length and does not require a large amount of force {easily handled manually with no actual ‘press machine’ required] , the feature ‘arm’, again in this case, is designed at 4.87mm wide and measures out at 5.1mm wide on my machine. Some experimentation may/will be necessary in different applications and/or materials.

Step 9: Method 1B Step 1: Clip Off Spoke Threads

Method 1B Step 1: Clip Off the Spoke Threads

Step 10: Method 1B Step 2: Mark and Press Fit

Method 1B Step 2: Mark and Press Fit

Measure and Mark the spoke at 32mm then Insert the spoke into the hole and Press Fit the spoke into the cavity to approximately 30mm using Spoke Tool #2.

Stop approximately 2 mm short of the Depth/Trim mark

Step 11: Method 1B Step 3: Trim to Length

Method 1B Step 3: Trim to length

Using the light duty bolt cutters clip/trim the spoke at the 32 mm mark.

Step 12: Method 1B Step 4: Seat Spoke

Method 1B Step 4: Seat the Spoke

Tap in the remaining exposed length of spoke with a small hammer until the spoke-end is flush with the rear surface of component A. You can also include glue or epoxy in the process; though it is not necessary for this application.

Ta-Da: You’ve just created a nice strong resilient feature on your 3D Printed Construct that won’t be easily snapped off. And you used ‘trash’ to do it, so it didn’t cost a cent.

Note: The remaining surface feature is easily mask/hidden with paint or plastic slurry if desired.

Step 13: Method 1B Step 5: Attach Component A2

Method 1B Step 5: Attach component A2 {micro-drill case restraint}

Here we use the threads, again self-threading the spoke(s) as in method 1A, to attach the spokes to component A2; then clip the spokes as shown. Roughly at 5mm and 12mm respectively, top and bottom (or right and left, depending on how you want to see it).

Then mount part A2 to the front of the tool rack by simply pushing/sliding the protruding spoke-bits into the matching holes on the front of component A. Component A2 will now be able to slide in and out slightly, though not easily; allowing for different sized micro-drill cases. … Or at least that’s the idea.

Step 14: Method 1B Step 6: Attach Scraper Caddy

Method 1B Step 6: Attach Scraper Caddy

Install the Scraper Caddy with box wrench slot/holder.

The scraper caddy {with a slot to hold the hot-end box wrench that is usually supplied with ‘kit’ printers} does not actually require a ‘hard’ connection to the rack. The designs used here do however provide for a press fit shaft. If you would like; cut two short shaft lengths of spoke (approximately 20mm ea.) and tap them in with a small hammer until flush, epoxy/glue is also an option though not necessary. Else simply press the caddy into place; the ‘rear’ of the caddy should be flush with the top surface of component A. If you don’t use the ‘shaft attach’ method you might decide to remove the caddy and install some other useful component or item.

Step 15: Method 1B Step 7: Attach USB Caddy

Method 1B Step 7: Attach USB Caddy

Install component B2 (USB caddy) onto the bottom of component B in a similar fashion to that used with components A and A2; self-threading the spokes into component B2 and press-fit onto the bottom of the tools tray {component B}.

{Sorry, but I didn’t add the USB caddy until after I’d finished constructing the prototype used here. It is included on the final designs contained in}

Step 16: ​​Method 1C - Angled Support Struts for Overhanging Features

Method - 1C - Angled Support Struts [Support Braces]

Some 3D Printer applications may require angled supports/braces for overhanging features that experience stress or force during use.

Method 1C - Step 1

Step 1 - Pre-cut spoke sections

Cut 6 lengths of spoke shaft at 42mm each, no threads.

--- Strictly speaking the angled supports underneath the tools tray on the 3D printer tools rack are not necessary. They are included as a ‘methods’ demonstration only. You can always use the extra holes for holding incense sticks or something if you don’t want to try/practice the method.

Step 17: ​​Method 1C Step 2 - Insert Spoke Sections

Method 1C Step 2 - Insert spoke sections

Slide the pre-cut length of spoke approximately halfway in. (as shown)

Step 18: ​​Method 1C Step 3 - Apply Epoxy/Glue

Method 1C Step 3 - Apply Epoxy/Glue to spoke section

Apply a coating of glue/epoxy in two locations as shown {basically top and bottom portions of the spoke piece that will end up ‘inside’ the unit}.

Step 19: Method 1C Step 4 - Seat Support Strut

Method 1C Step 4 - Seat Support Strut

Use a pair of needle noes pliers to move/slide the spoke-section {aka: support strut} into place. The strut should not protrude from either the top {Tool Caddy Tray} or the rear/base of the back plate.

Ta-Da, Strut one is complete. You may need to wipe off any excess glue.

Step 20: Method 1C Step 5 - Repeat

Method 1C Step 5 - Repeat

Repeat for all 6 locations along the tool rack, two each section [Or however many your application needs]. I also recommend using a piece of wax paper, or other protective/disposable covering with a non-stick surface {Teflon pipe tape also works well I’ve found}, under the unit while the glue dries.

Step 21: ​Method 1D Optional Component; Step 1 - Attach Sanding Block Caddy

Method 1D Optional Component; Step 1 - Attach Sanding Block Caddy

The Sanding Block Caddy attaches to the side of component A, an optional component; the side of unit A has recessed cavities to accommodate installing end-nubs the same as the sanding block caddy itself has and it is not necessary to install the caddy. These following steps are for attaching the caddy as well as using Method 1A to permanently attach component A to component B; if you do not wish to install the caddy the steps to complete the attachment of component A are similar to steps 5, 6 and 7.

Using two intact spokes, including threads, thread the spokes into the center constriction of component B, thru component A and the Sanding Block Caddy at the same time, until the spoke seats using tool 0.

The Sanding Block Cady and Component A should appear as in the image above.

Note: the Caddy will/should slip 'up and down' on the two spokes. The thru hole in the caddy is designed at θ1.3 mm to accommodate using a thick epoxy; though it is not really necessary in this case as the 'nub' will hold the units in place once installed.

Step 22: ​Method 1D Step 2 - Mark Trim Locations

Method 1D Step 2 - Mark Trim Locations

Mark the two Trim/Cut locations on the spoke(s); Flush with the outside surface of the caddy while you hold the caddy firmly against component A.

Step 23: ​Method 1D Step 3 - Trim Spokes

Method 1D Step 3 - Trim Spokes

Slide the Caddy away from component A to expose the marked cut locations. Then Trim the spokes as marked.

By sliding the caddy away from the cut-mark you can Trim just below the mark, allowing a more uniform surface for the finished item.

Step 24: ​Method 1D Step 4&5 - Install End-Nubs

Method 1D Step 4 - Reinstall Caddy
Slide the Sanding Block Caddy back onto the protruding spokes, now trimmed, up against component A.

Method 1D Step 5 - Install End-Nubs

Install end-nubs. Cover the end of the shafts using a blob of glue and place an end-nub over the exposed ends.

Use a small hammer to tap the nubs into place. The End-Nub should sink into the recessed cavity providing a flush surface {provided you decided to clip slightly below the surface mark}.


Step 25: ​Method 1E Step 1 - Reinforced Legs W/Feet

Method 1E Step 1 - Construct/Assemble Reinforced Legs w/Feet

The easiest method to use for the Reinforced Legs w/ Feet is to self-thread the spokes, one at a time, onto the bottom section [foot]; then measure and cut each spoke as you insert them. With epoxy/glue, if desired, and end nubs for attaching the top sections of the legs to the bottom sections. The upper leg section dimension is 124.5mm {the cut length after you have threaded the spokes to the feet}.

Step 1 - Self-Thread spoke into component LegB {foot} using tool 0.

Step 2 - Measure, Mark and Trim the protruding spoke shaft to 124 mm above the top edge of component Leg section B.

Step 3 - Repeat Steps 1, 2 {above} for each of the four spokes.

[The camera on my flip-phone sucks, ... just say'n]

Step 26: ​Method 1E Step 2 - Align and Insert Spoke Shafts

Method 1E Step 2 - Align and insert spoke shafts

Align the spoke shafts using tool 1.

1. Sorry, but I designed the tool after doing the alignment "manually". It wasn’t too hard even without the tool; the tool should make it easier. Snap the four spoke shafts into the inside corners of tool 1, just below the top/end of the 4 shafts; then align and slide/push Leg-A down onto the shafts/tool combination. Once the shafts are “all in”, twist or rotate the tool, top to bottom, and remove or slide the tool out from between the spoke shafts. Then complete sliding leg component A/top into place against the leg/foot section. Use a blob of epoxy {Gorilla Glue} between Leg components A & B if desired.

2. Repeat for all three legs. [Note: I got a bit ‘rambunctious’ here and didn’t take photos [you’ll have to write it off as: "needs better meds" or something]. Fortunately it isn’t rocket science.

3. Insert 4 spoke sections each into the lower end of feet/foot; the spokes enter from the front, angled, end of the foot. This adds additional strength, rigidity and weight. Clip off the screw threads, and then use a ‘press-fit’ method and tool #2 {if necessary} to insert the spoke sections. Mark the exit location, extract slightly, and clip. Then tap in with hammer {Epoxy is optional}.

Step 27: Method 1E Step 3 - Attach the Legs

Method 1E Step 3 - Attach the Legs to the Tray

The 3D Tools Rack can also be wall mounted.

Else: Attach the legs to the rack using some convenient screws {#8 wood screws?}, maybe a bit of glue if you like, I used Rubber Cement [Dow E6000].

Step 28: Method 1E Step 4 Attach Cross Member Bar for Additional Support

Method 1E Step 4 Attach Cross Member Bar for Additional Support

Attach the cross member bar; self-thread thru two legs and into the third {the hole is located on the back end of the foot section. Using epoxy at each leg location.

After the threads exit the first two legs and makes contact with the last leg apply a dab of epoxy to the shaft just above the entry location for the shaft into/for all three leg {three places: threads and two points on the shaft}. Then simply continue the self-threading operation.

Ta-Da, finished: hang some tools in the rack … make more coffee.

Step 29: Method 2 Step 1: Spoke Encapsulation During Print

Design Considerations

Encapsulating other components during print may be a bit more involved. In some cases, depending on what the component you wish to strengthen is like {shape and size, etc.}, you may need to Pause the print at the appropriate point during printing the feature and lay or slide the pre-cut length of spoke into the partially completed slot or opening; then resume printing. This can be an issue due to head re-positioning becoming off-set {the head returning to the wrong spot}. There may be a bit of experimentation involved, or perhaps ‘custom-GCode’ to be written. Encapsulation of components is an ‘art’ all in itself, and quite a bit beyond the scope of this Instructable, but an extremely fun and useful feature of/for 3D Printed items. Binky Lights, electric motors, fiber optics, trapped nuts{very useful}, and more.

The following simple example, using a 'puzzle piece' and bike spokes, functions for components in need of cross-member supports or reinforcements; ‘big puzzle pieces’ so to speak. Enabling the creation of fairly large completed objects with a superior degree of rigidity and strength.

For this application, during the print cycle, you can ‘simply’ drop in the ‘3-Bar’ spoke pieces [reinforcements] where designed. This method uses file: UpCycle-BikeSpokes-ImbeddedSpokes.stl

Designing criteria: Two sections of spoke are imbedded within the component; one completely encapsulated within the unit and one ‘just at the surface’ to add a ‘decorative’ aspect. The spoke pieces are/were cut to 175mm, though it could have been 178mm as the cavity feature was 178mm ‘long’ and would accommodate the slightly longer spoke bits. The component 'puzzle piece' thickness, in this case, is 5.24mm. With ‘Action Points’ at ~2.0 and ~2.2 respectively.

Step 30: Method 2 Step 2: Generate G-Code

Step 2: Generate Appropriate G-Code {print file} for your machine.

Print Flat. Settings as indicated.

Start the Print.

Step 31: Method 2 Step 3: Wait for It …

Step 2: Wait for it …

After the “halfway point” in the first shaft/cavity dimension has been printed onto the feature [a bit more won’t hurt] thereby defining the 3-Bar insertion location proceed to step 4.

[From the above drawing you can see the first spokes halfway point is ~2.0mm ‘up’ from the bottom of the print (first layer). You can simply watch till it ‘seems’ to be past the halfway point, but I like numbers and digital displays; feels safer.]

Step 32: Method 2 Step 4: Place the First Spoke Section

Method 2 Step 4: Place the First Spoke Section

Place the first of the pre-cut [175-178mm] spoke shafts while the printer operates.

{You many need to move fairly quickly, but I’m old and slow and can’t see worth a damn anymore; so I’m sure you can manage it}.

Note: After you drop in the spoke: Watch for errors; the puppy may get nudged out of place by the print head; ... put it back.

I use a metal Emory nail file for such task {see tools list}; they’re nice and thin and flexible. Don’t burn your fingers … unless you want to?

I’ve gotten this to work first time, every time I've tried it; so it isn’t particularly difficult.

Step 33: Method 2 Step 5: Wait for It … Again

Method 2 Step 5: Wait for It … Again

Once the second spoke cavity feature reaches the halfway point, approximately 2.2mm from the first layer print.

Place the second of the pre-cut [175-178mm] spoke shaft pieces, again while the printer operates, into the feature.

Note: After you drop in the spoke: Watch for errors.

Allow the print to finish:


Step 34: Using the Hooked Ends {Example}

Using the ‘Hooked’ ends {example}: Public Education wall mounted key rack.

Inspired by a line from the movie MIB {1997} by actor Rip Torn who said {and here I paraphrase a bit}: “Exactly what we’ve come to expect from years of public education.”

‘PubEdu’ Key Rack: Cost ~$0.25

Print Time: 1:57 {machine and settings dependent}

File: GovEdu_KeyHanger.stl

Assembly Time: approximately 15 min. {probably less}

Items List

Spoke hooked ends: 5

Epoxy/Glue: Gorilla Glue, E6000 , or equivalent. {Something thick}

Filament [Your Choice]: ~6.2m


1. Print the key rack back plate and perform any desired/necessary post processing.

2. Trim Spoke Ends to: approximately 22mm/0.86in. … Maybe a bit shorter; your choice.

3. Apply a small blob of epoxy to the insertion end; cover about 3-4mm of shaft length liberally with glue, and insert the spoke-ends into the 5 small holes at the bottom of the back plate with the hooked end protruding from the front {recessed letters} side. Also insure the hook ends are facing ‘up’ {assembly image #2}; lay the unit on a piece of wax paper to cure. Allow 24 hrs cure time.

You might also paint the letters; I’m just lazy, nail polish works well.

Step 35: ​Notes:


Not all 3D printers are the same. Your specific printer may require you to experiment a bit to get these methods to function as desired. I use an Anet-A8 {a RepRap i3 single print head ‘knock-off’} which I obtained as a kit; very inexpensive, required a small amount of upgrading to function well [as viewed from my thoroughly biased AR engineers mindset] but generally quite a nice 3D printer. You will need to put the A8 in a box [aka: enclosure] to print well in ABS. Send me an email and I’ll give you plans [open source, no charge] to build a ‘cheap’ enclosure for yourself; mine cost zip, I ‘dumpster dived’ all the bits and pieces {insert sound effect: maniacal giggling.}.

As always; removing the support structures created during printing, if you’re not using a dual head printer and PLC water soluble supports, can be a giant pain in the backside. Use needle noes pliers; and remember that most “industrial accidents” are the result of using razor-knives {sometimes called an Exact-O blade; ‘cause that’s what the O stands for: O-Sh__ I’ve cut my fracking finger off. So please be careful}.

It does take a bit of pressure to cut the spokes; beware of flying objects.

Turpentine is good for cleaning the spokes; it is also ‘very nasty’ and cleanup is an environmental concern. Caution is advised. Fumes happen. Read and follow all safety instructions.

The Spoke Tool(s) [SpokeTool0.stl, SpokeTool1.stl & SpokeTool2.stl] should be printed with 100% fill {solid fill}. Initially tool 0 will be rather tight {spoke butt end}, and using a small hammer to seat the spoke(s) may/will be necessary. It will loosen with use. This is intentional {call it a safety feature}. There are two .stl files for tool 0; one for Insertion {rt} one for Extraction {lt}, though you can probably use a single version for either purpose; I do.

* I’ve found that most of the available printers have some method to pause the print then resume once you have completed the spoke/reinforcement insertion step; getting the print head ‘out of the way’, or simply working around it, may however be something of an issue. Custom G-Code seems to be the answer.

** As with all 3D printed items, the option for customization is an awesome feature. The included Tools Rack can be wall mounted as well as using the stand and therefore, with a simple mirroring of the furnished AutoCAD design, create a left or right handed item. Allowing mounting best suited to the individual and/or the location where you wish to use it. You can also easily include additional features accommodating specialty tools for you personally; and even attach a name-tag or print in your favorite color for decorative flavor.

I recommend printing the Nubs with a Raft, as this will solve adhesion issues and the small parts are quite and easy to remove from the raft, regardless of the material of choice {ABS, PLA etc.}. Print time is very quick.

Additionally: I use the bottoms of plastic bottles as mixing cups for epoxy and glues. Simply slice off the bottom of the plastic container as shown. They make excellent mixing trays/cups and cost zip. …

Step 36: List of Tools That Fit the Tool Rack

List of Tools that fit the Rack. {Note: I lifted the images from google)

  • Needle Noes Pliers
  • Philips screwdriver(s), one each: small and medium
  • Hammer (5in1 – I can’t give you the manufactures name, but you can email for the info if you wish)
  • Clippers
  • Small Manual Sanding Block
  • Small Round and Triangle files
  • Razor scraper
  • Razor knife
  • Nozzle cleaning micro-drills [with case]
  • Emory nail file
  • Allen wrenches (Tools Rack fits 4)
  • 3D printer Hot-End mini Box Wrench
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