A practical application for 3D printing

I’ve starting volunteering at the Grote St. Library “Innovation Lab”:




So far lots of Thingiverse toys and tchotchkes have been made. I decided to do something a bit more useful and make a replacement curtain rail mount that had broken.

I modelled up the broken mount, using SolidWorks and a pair of callipers to measure it:

An artists interpretation

SW screenshot

Save the SolidWorks file as an .stl file and upload into the Up! printer. The Up! software is pretty easy and straightforward to use:

Up! setup screen

It takes about 45 minutes to print this little thing, and it weighs about 7grams. You can see how each layer of ABS plastic is squeezed out of the nozzle, as the part is built up:

start printing 01

start printing 02

start printing 03

start printing 04

The Up! printer makes it own support material, but it from ABS, so it’s a sort-of lattice that can be torn off the part like velcro. Because this part has undercuts and overhangs, it was a bit of a pain to remove, but with pliers and a small screwdriver blade, it all came off. Here are the two 3D printed parts before the support material has been removed, alongside the original part:

Original and Printed

And here are the parts with the support material removed. You can see the resolution of the printed parts, each deposited layer of ABS is a fraction of a millimetre thick:

Cleaned Up

There is a tiny amount of shrinkage with the ABS plastic as it cools, which needs to be taken into account when modelling and printing a 3D part, but with a part this small it is negligible. I removed the old broken mounts, screwed in the new mounts, then re-hung the curtain: hooray!! it works!!

Curtain Mount

Here’s a copy of the stl file so you can print it yourself if you like (rename the extension from .xls to .stl after downloading):

Curtain Mount stl file

and here’s a 3D pdf file so you can see the curtain mount in all its glory:

Curtain Mount

The fixed curtain


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