Ultra Fine Sharpie EDC

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Twin-Tip Sharpies are currently my writing instrument of choice; however, I only use its Ultra Fine Tip. Even though Sharpie makes an Ultra Fine Pen, I find it too skinny and much prefer the girth of the original Sharpie-sized Twin-Tip marker. As they are my preferred writing instrument, I always have one or a few on my person. As I usually stow them in one of the front pockets of my pants, they seem to always end up jabbing me when I sit down; which is rather annoying. I used to carry a Fischer Bullet Space Pen everyday because I would put it in my pocket and never feel it. Fed up with making sacrifices, I decided to modify Sharpie’s Twin-Tip permanent marker/pen and turn it into a real EDC wiriting instrument for myself.

Criteria:

- Analogous Size to Fischer’s Space Pen

- Have a Place to Store the Cap

- Be a Cost-Effective Modification (i.e. Disposable)

- Look Stock

- Retain the Majority of the Ink Cartridge

This is a great project to take advantage of the rapid prototyping and cost effectiveness of 3D printing. It is also a great exercise in 3D modelling. Because there aren’t any complex geometrical shapes in this design, we can use free entry level 3D modelling software such as Tinkercad!

Step 1: Tools and Materials

For this EDC hack you'll need:

  • A Sharpie Twin-Tip Permanent Marker
  • A Utility Knife or Hobby Knife
  • Access to a 3D Printer
  • Something to protect your work surface (That sheet of paper did not suffice. )

Step 2: Disassembly

Start by disassembling a sacrificial Twin Tip Sharpie (preferably, one that has dried up ) by firmly grasping the fine tip end (with the cap on ) in one hand and the body of the pen with the other. Slowly start bending the pen at the seam where the cap meets the body back and forth with firm pressure.

Once the seal is broken, keep bending whilst pulling on the capped end until it becomes dislodged from the body of the pen. This might take some practice, but it is the best separation technique that I’ve found. Then, tip the pen body upside down over a piece of paper on a table and tap it until the cartridge falls out.

Step 3: Measure Twice Print Once…

Calipers are an essential tool for making precise 3D modeled objects that fit together seamlessly with other objects. It isn’t essential to have a pair of digital calipers with numerical readouts and simultaneous metric to imperial conversions, a simple pair of Vernier calipers will do (even plastic ones ).

Next, take careful measurements of the inner and outer diameter of the base of the tip that was removed, and the ridges found along its shaft. Measure the distances between the ridges, as well as, the overall length of the base of the tip that was inserted into the body of the pen (up to the cap ).

My measurements were as follows, overall length: 13mm; diameter of the shaft: 10mm; diameter of the ridges: 10.5mm; distance of first ridge from base: 6mm; distance of second ridge from base: 10mm; wall thickness: 1.25mm.

Once you have these measurements, you can start 3D modelling!

Step 4: 3D Modelling With Tinkercad

*Please don't be intimidated by this photograph heavy step! The images are merely visual representations of every step and are fairly repetitive.

As I mentioned in the intro, the simple geometric shape of this part allows us to use perhaps the most intuitive, free, browser-based software available, Tinkercad. If you don’t already have a Tinkercad account, create one and follow the tutorials to become familiar with the software. Once you are acquainted, dive in with your measurements and start modelling!

Remember that there are countless approaches to creating a 3D model, the more experienced you become, the more efficient your modelling process will become. To make this tutorial as accessible as possible I chose to eliminate using the tube shape tool to create the body as it requires tube calculations that can be daunting for those with strengths that don’t include math. This 3D modeled part is made up of only 8 shapes!

*To follow the criteria of making it look stock, I changed the colour of the pieces to black. You can simply leave it the default colours or change the colour to any that you prefer!

Start by using the cylinder tool to create a cylinder that is 10mm in diameter by 13mm tall. Next, create a cylinder that is 10.5mm in diameter by 0.5mm tall and duplicate it. Then, elevate one of the 10.5mm x 0.5mm cylinders to 6mm and then the other to 10mm. Select all three cylinders by holding down the shift key and press ‘’L’’ to bring up the Align Tool. Align the pieces in the center of both the X and Y axes. You’ll find that the Align Tool is indispensable when modelling. To complete the shaft, create a cylinder, using the cylinder hole tool, that is 8.75mm in diameter by 13mm tall. Align it with the three other cylinders in the same way as the previous step and Group all the cylinders together. This will create a hole in the center of the shaft and a wall thickness of 1.25mm.

Now, we must create a stopper piece for the top of the shaft to catch on the body of the pen. Start by creating a cylinder 12mm in diameter and 1mm tall. Elevate the cylinder to 13mm and Align and Group it to the others. To round off the profile of the top of the cylinder (purely aesthetic ), use the hemisphere tool to create a hemisphere that is 12mm in diameter by 0.50mm tall. Elevate the hemisphere to 14mm, Align and Group it with the others. The piece is now fully functional but doesn’t meet the criteria of cap storage.

To remedy this, we’ll add a couple more cylinders and a hemisphere to the top based on the internal dimensions of the fine tip cap. First, create a cylinder that is 9mm in diameter by 1.5mm tall, then Elevate it to 14mm, Align and Group it to the other pieces. Next, create another cylinder that is 9.25mm in diameter by 0.5mm tall, Elevate it to 15.5mm, Align and Group it to the other pieces. Lastly, create a hemisphere that is 9mm in diameter by 5mm tall, Elevate it to 15.5mm, Align and Group it with the others. Congrats, that concludes the 3D modelling for this project!

This project was made public thanks to JamesCielen's excellent suggestion! Here's a direct link to my Tinkercad page!

Step 5: Printing!

Export the model as an .OBJ file from Tinkercad and upload it into your preferred slicing software. I usually print these types of parts in ECO-ABS or Nylon for increased strength and durability. Because the part is so small, I usually tack on a brim and support material to help it adhere to the build platform but try it without first.

Using high quality settings at 100% infill with the brim and support material, the print takes less than 10 minutes! Experiment to find the best print settings for your printer!

I printed the pieces vertically but printing them horizontally could give them a bit more lateral strength; however, I haven’t had an issue with the ends shearing off even after months of quotidian use.

Step 6: Final Assembly!

Disassemble a new Twin Tip Sharpie using the method explained in the first step and trim the cartridge carefully with either a utility knife (or pair of scissors in a pinch) to approximately 65mm. Reinsert the cartridge and press in the newly 3D printed piece. Voilà! A pocket-sized, Ultra Fine Sharpie that meets all of my criteria!

Cheers!

Mr. Ham.

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    18 Discussions

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    Rickesss

    24 days ago

    What is the approximately lowest price that a 3D printer would cost (in the US) that would do this kind of hack?
    not dirt cheapest, but reasonable, for someone who's not yet into this hobby?
    thanks!

    4 replies
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    Ham-madeRickesss

    Reply 24 days ago

    Hey Rickesss!
    Rad username!
    Being Canadian, I don't want to steer you in the wrong direction as I'm unfamiliar with the US 3D printer market; however, here are some starting points and decisions to make before diving into your research.
    Decide what types of materials you would like to be able to print, nearly all 3D printers print PLA (which is a plant derived plastic); however it isn't the most durable, flexible or heat resistant plastic available. For the vast majority of beginner hobbyists the ability to print PLA will cover all of your bases. It is also the most widely available, has the most colour options and is the cheapest. Printers that are able to print a vast array of materials have an extruder capable of higher temperatures than needed to melt PLA. One thing to be aware of when looking for filament is that there are different diameters, most entry level machines (in fact most machines on the market) use 1.75mm filament. Filament that is too large will immediately clog your machine and ruin your day.
    Another thing to consider is a machine within or without an enclosure. Most kits that you assemble yourself are delta type printers (three pillars will help you to identify them) and don't include enclosures. As a side note, I don't recommend building your first printer even if it's a well documented kit job, pay the difference, you'll make it back in time saved and pleasure gained. There is some debate that revolves around the detrimental health effects of printers without enclosures (releasing carcinogens, etc.) but I would be more worried about a child or pet touching a 200+ degree Celsius extruder head. As a teacher I can tell you that no school board (in my area) allows 3D printers in a classroom setting without a filtered enclosure. Interpret that information based on your own concerns and research but know that most completely assembled entry level 3D printers are enclosed.
    Build plate adhesion and build plate leveling method is the next thing you'll want to look for. If the first few layers of your print don't stick to the build plate, you end up with a ball of plastic spaghetti...Different printers use different methods to achieve adhesion, some use painter's tape, some use a glue stick (the same type that children, or adults, use to make crafts), some have heated beds, some have proprietary flexible sticky plates, or use combinations of the aforementioned methods.
    A heated bed is a luxury but not essential (it also has a large impact on cost). Leveling the bed can be painless (higher end printers do this automatically) whereas budget printers require you to zero the platform yourself which is a tedious process. Look for a printer that has an assisted leveling system, these systems take readings and you make minor adjustments, they take more readings and notify you if more adjustments are required or if it is level. Quick and painless.
    I suggest staying away from cloud based printing, you'll want the ability to save your .gcode file on a USB stick or SD card and insert it directly into the machine and print it. In other words, you don't want to be tethered to a computer or a server to print your item, you'll want a stand alone system.
    If you've exported your model from Tinkercad as either an .obj or .stl file you've only made it half way to 3D printing it. You'll need an additional piece of software called a slicer. I'm telling you this because certain brands of 3D printers have proprietary slicer software. Other brands use open sourced slicer software habitually based on the software Cura. The slicing software is what enables you to set all of the print settings for your 3D model and translates it into a language that the 3D printer can understand (.gcode).
    That's all I can think of off the top of my head, but one last thing, Make: Magazine publishes a 3D printing issue every year with breakdowns of every printer they test as well as prices and recommendations. That special issue paired with everything I mentioned should allow you to make an educated decision that you'll be happy with!
    I hope this was helpful!
    Cheers!
    Mr. Ham

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    RickesssHam-made

    Reply 23 days ago

    EMCguy and especially Ham-Made, I wanted to thank you both very much for taking the time to provide such valuable information.
    I hope many others take the opportunity to read it as well.
    I absolutely do NOT need another hobby (!!!) but I admit I am getting more and more intrigued by these printers...you know how that goes!
    Thanks again!
    RicklesssS in Oregon

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    Ham-madeRickesss

    Reply 22 days ago

    Anytime Ricklesss! Glad I could be of service!
    Mr. Ham

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    EMCguyRickesss

    Reply 24 days ago

    The Creality Ender 3 gets a lot of "best printer under $200" citings. I've had one for about 6 months and really like it. Last I looked, $179 with free shipping from Banggood.com US warehouse on the West coast.

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    JamesCielen

    Question 24 days ago on Step 6

    Can you make the project file public on TinkerCad?

    I'd like to make this, but squared off at the bottom rather than round.

    If your file is public, it makes for an easier starting point.

    Thanks!

    1 answer
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    Ham-madeJamesCielen

    Answer 24 days ago

    Hey JamesCielen!
    Thanks for the excellent suggestion! I made the project file public on Tinkercad and gave you a shout out in Step 2 for your awesome idea!
    Cheers!
    Mr. Ham

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    dpeach

    24 days ago

    I'm a big fan of short pens and pencils and just recently started using Sharpie Ultra Fine pens. And, like you, I like the fatness of the full size Sharpie over the skinniness of the regular Sharpie pen. I might be doing this mod myself soon. Thank you for sharing it!

    1 reply
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    Ham-madedpeach

    Reply 24 days ago

    Hey dpeach!
    Trust me, you won't go back! If you end up doing the mod let me know, I'd love to see it!
    Cheers,
    Mr. Ham

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    cTsVette

    25 days ago

    You would probably really like the Cross Ion, but they are hard to find these days.

    1 reply
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    Ham-madecTsVette

    Reply 24 days ago

    Hey cTsVette!
    You assumed correctly! I might be able to score one on ebay, thanks for turning me on to them!
    Cheers!
    Mr. Ham

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    Elaina M

    26 days ago

    Yes !!! I love hacks, Sharpie’s and tiny things ! You have delighted me on all theee fronts with one awesome project !

    1 reply
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    Ham-madeElaina M

    Reply 26 days ago

    Thanks Elaina!
    Ditto! :)
    Cheers!
    Mr. Ham