USB Stick Lost-and-Found




About: I build, I teach, I learn. Happiest when covered in saw dust, sweat and machine grease. Visit for more projects and info.

Pier 9's 3D print room is a black hole for USB drives. It seems that almost everyone who uses the 3D printers leaves their drive behind. Sometimes people forget their entire set of keys. The old lost-and-found was a drawer in the corner, and we needed a better solution. Enter, the USB Stick Lost-and-Found.

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Step 1: Measure

First, I measured a USB port on my computer with calipers to get precise dimensions. Based on my measurements a USB port is .5 inches by .2 inches. The rectangle inside is .1 inches from the bottom and surrounded by a .02 inch channel on the top and sides.

Step 2: CAD

The next step was to go directly to Fusion 360 and build a CAD model of the part. I modeled one slot and then used the rectangular pattern tool to copy it 33 times. I used the text and extrude tools to write the text along the top. I have included the Fusion 360 file and an STL of the design.

Step 3: Print

I used the Objet printers at Pier 9 to print out the model. I would suggest hollowing the part out before printing if you decide to print this part using a resin printer. The version I made is solid and it is much heavier than it needs to be.

Step 4: Clean

Cleaning the 3D printed part is important here. In order to avoid getting support material gunk all over other people's USB drives use a thin sharp tool to scrape out the space inside each of the slots. It helps to soak the print in water to soften the support material before cleaning.

Step 5: Mount

3M mounting tape is pretty amazing stuff. Be careful in your placement because it's hard to change your mind once it is stuck to the wall.

Step 6: Use

Now that the lost and found plaque is mounted it is time to plug in all the orphaned USB drives. Hopefully, now that they are out in the open people will be more likely to rescue them.

2 People Made This Project!


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76 Discussions


1 year ago

You did a great job with the aesthetics!

Very attractive minimalistic design.

Lost items are more visible than the insides of some dark drawer.

Personal integrity is important with this lost and found system. I think that you have to prioritize the goals of this lost and found display.

Is this lost and found display's primary task to connect lost items to owners --or-- is the lost and found display's primary task to prevent the lost item from being stolen/tampered with?

Wow this is very clever! Unfortunately, I don't have a 3D-Printer... Maybe it's an idea to think of the same idea but then without the 3D-printing? I'm going to think of this myself but maybe it's a nice challenge for you too? :)

2 replies

Glad you like it.
Maybe you could use a hard bake clay like Sculpey. First make a small tool that is the same shape as a USB stick and press it into the clay. Once you bake it you should be able to achieve a similar result. The only problem would be if the clay shrinks when you bake it. You may need to compensate for this by making the tool a little bit bigger than a USB stick.

Thanks! I'm definitely going to try this as soon as possible :)


4 years ago on Introduction

USB Stick Lost-and-Found
in my language that translates to "FREE USB DRIVES" OR "HACKBLE VICTIMS".
it's a good thing you trust your coworkers, i saw the comments below.

then again. that might be why they get return to their respective owners, because somebody might be afraid of what's on it.


4 years ago on Introduction

In each of my USB drives, I place a text file called "This stick belongs to" in the root directory, containing my name and contact details. So if found by an honest person, it should get returned.

I keep my keys separate, so that if found by a thief, they can't connect the keys with my address !

5 replies

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

I wanted to get my name on the list of people who place a text file on their USB drives.

well for starters I do it with all my external media, except the 3 small external hard drives I have ( they are Mac formatted, so they are usually dangling off my computer. and they are clear so, they are fairly easy to notice ).

now I actually have 3 files.
contains the volume title of the USB drive in case it gets changed ( yes I've had it happen ) it breaks down to "VT" is short for "volume title", "MyName_Last", "size" and "drive number".

these two files contain the exact same thing, name, phone#, e-mail and address.
so you might be asking, why do I have 2 of them?
interesting answer, i mark both files as read-only in Windows ( Mac doesn't always respect it and it doesn't translate to windows, but it works the other way around. )

the file with ".IV.", i don't know if I should tell you all this?
All right you talked me into it, ".IV." indicates that it should be an invisible file ( that other check box in Windows ) so even if you figure out how to delete or modify the read-only file you will have to have visible files turned on to see the extra.

and by now you should be able to guess what my drives volume labels are.

well I'am here I should mention I love the idea of having something pop up when It gets plugged-in. but after that security scare with automatically running software from disks and drives, i don't know how feasible that is going to be in the future. ( plus it would annoy me! )


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

The text file is a good idea, I use a jpegf of me holding a sign with my email address. But don't forget the volume label: I rename a drive when I get it then instead of just showing as Drive E:, it shows up as Drive E:GRAY_D_1. This comes in handy when collaborating and multiple thumb drives are inserted at once too. Make telling the drives apart much easier.


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

Yes, good point while we are here ! I also use the volume label to identify the stick, usually just the brand/model and size, eg "PNY 1Gb".

For those who are not familiar with this, select the stick in your "My Computer" folder, and "F2" to rename the device (maximum 11 characters). Then you will be able to immediately see which drive it is in the folders on screen.


4 years ago

That's a great idea! I'm curious about the heavier ones with a set of keys or heavy keychains attached. It seems that the weight might bend the male plug. If that is a concern,I wonder if orienting the slots vertically instead of horizontally would prevent that.

2 replies

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

I was wondering about that too, it is a good point that they've chosen their destiny. depending on the damage, it can be fixed. unless it rips the traces off, although there have been some more adventurous attempts to fix that.


I suppose it is possible that the heavier ones might bend the metal, but they would do the same thing plugged into a computer, so it is really a choice that the owner of the USB drive already made. Vertical slots might be a good idea.

Thanks for the comment.


4 years ago on Introduction

Mabi a usb part would be good too for caps to insert inside