Jun 8, 2015

In an emergency, 3D Print a Big Red Button (then press it)

Working on a project with the middle school tech club - to take apart a computer and mount the working parts on the wall (more on this in a later post) - we decided we needed a Big Red Button to turn the computer on and off. The tiny switch that was on the front of the PC case was just not going to give the right appeal when hung on the wall with the rest of the guts of the computer.

I'm always looking for opportunities to design, model and print things on my 3D Printer - so I took this challenge and pursued the Big Red Button.

The Design

Inside the button, we just needed to have the original switch which the button would activate - but the design of the button could be pretty much anything we wanted. We decided on a simple Big Red Button in a yellow box.

I ended up with three components to this design so that it would print easily on the 3D Printer. This is often the main challenge with #3DPrinting - modeling things that will actually print reliably - so multi-part designs are often the way to go. In this case, the requirement for moving parts also made it likely that multiple parts would be the answer.

1 - The Button Box - a big yellow, hollow box with a hole at the top to hold the actual Red Button.

2 - The Button - a big Red semi-circle which would stick out the top of the button box and move freely up and down.

3 - The Button Base - a flat base around which the button box would sit, containing a mount for the spring, a mount for the switch and some parts which would keep the button in the position we desired.

Building it to work

We also obviously need the non 3D Printed parts - a big spring and the electronic switch. The switch was already present in the electronics of the PC, so we designed the button base to have a stand for that switch which held it firm against the big red button - just the right height to activate with a simple button press. We also decided to hold one side of the button more firmly in place (those two tall towers on the base) so that the button wouldn't wobble too much.

The button works quite well.
At the last minute, we also decided to mount an LED inside the box, so we did that after printing by drilling a tiny hole in the side of the box.

I could see printing lots of these.... for... well... something!
Got ideas? Put them in the comments!

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