Feb 7, 2016

Make a Football Paper Clip - Fast, useful 3D Printer Project

In honor of the Superbowl today, I wanted to design a really easy football-themed model which was both useful and super fast to print. Small, useful models which are fast to print are really great for school projects where many kids are often waiting for a single printer, and looking for results within on class period. This model achieves all that.

Design Goals

My main goal was to have a football theme. What better way to achieve than than by using a model of a Football! My second goal was to have the result be somewhat useful - not just a trinket.

You probably know I've done lots of trinkets, and both kids and adults really like those, but I am becoming partial designing and printing more useful things. Third - I wanted this to be a small model which could print fast and reliably.

Design Details

One of the things I dislike most about classrooms today is the continuous and heavy use of paper. There's just so much more that can go digital but hasn't yet - and paper often adds a burden in paces where it is unnecessary.

That said, I decided to design a paper clip - ah.. the irony.

I've noticed in previous flat-model printing I've done that the printed PLA in heights of 1-2mm is quite flexible. I figured I could create a paperclip-like structure quite easily on a flat surface, in practically any shape I wanted.

I tried a football shaped design. Here's the steps I used to create this:

1 - Sketched an oval with 6 points using the "Spline" tool in 123D Design - getting a Football shape pretty easily. It was about 30mm wide and 50mm long.

2 - Extruded the football to 1.4mm deep.

3 - Duplicated and reduced the size to about 75% the original.

4 - Shelled out the original to make it just an outline of about 3mm width.

5 - fit the smaller football inside the larger outlined football leaving approximately 1-2mm gap between the two (that's the space the paper will fit when it's a paper clip).

6 - create a connecting rectangle which is 3mm wide, long enough to bridge the gap between the objects and 1mm high. I place that at the tip of the football connecting the two parts.

7 - Use short rectangle pieces which are 1mm wide and 1mm tall - to create a "laces" pattern on top of the inner football (see the picture to understand what this looks like).

3D Printed Results

After a little tweaking, I ended up making the inner football slightly higher than the outer outline shape and gave it rounded edges (using the Filet tool) just to make it look better. I also did a bunch of experimenting with height to get the right balance between strength and flexibility.

The Model

In case you don't feel like starting from scratch to make this yourself, and just want the immediate satisfaction of printing a few (or a few dozen) of these now, I've posted the Football Paper Clip model on Pinshape for you to use.

If you're having people over for the superbowl today, print a few and give them out to your friends ;)

And just in case you think I've created this model because I like paper, I've also created this other paper clip design, shown here, to clarify my position...

I think I'll give these out by the dozen at my kids' schools :)

Here's that "We Hate Paper" Paperclip Model - also free on Pinshape - in case you want to inspire your school to reduce the waste and time innefficiency ;)

1 comment:

  1. I tried downloading and i only get the outline of the football?