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Giving something unique like a 3D printed tape measure during special events like Father’s day can be memorable. In today’s Design Inspiration Friday, Tom and Tracy Hazzard break down this new 3D printed creation. They believe that the tape measure is not that accurate and cannot serve its purpose well. Although it can serve well in the decorative side of things, it does not for functionality. 3D printing does open numerous opportunities for creating tools that can be used at home. The tape measure is just the start of many useful things that 3D printing can soon deliver.
Listen to the podcast here:
3D Printed Tape Measure
Father’s Day is coming up, one of the most typical gifts are tools and ties, but how about a fresh take with a 3D printed tape measure? Ties are old school but Tom is still wearing one, but only because it is 3D printed. What amazes me is that it takes a lot of people before they get to know what that really is, like when he went to a conference lately. I enjoy watching people when it is the first time they see him and how long it takes them to say, “Is that tie 3D printed?” I think it is super cool. It is really fun to observe that. My favorite part is when they get to ask if they can get to touch it. People just reach out to touch the tie. I have given my dad for Father’s Day several tape measures and tools over the course of my young life.
I really think that a 3D printed tape measure is a really cool idea. When I first saw it, it was awesome and contained just like it was printed in one piece. I love the idea of that. The tape itself, the mechanism of the backup after you wind it, and the entire product from start to finish including the little locks to lock it – everything is 3D printed and in one print. I really love the idea of it. It was not FFF 3D printed but I think it could be with the right kind of printer that can print dual extrusion of one material plus a dissolvable support material.
Why do we need to 3D print?
Just because you can 3D print and make a 3D printed tape measure and it is cool, should you? In this case I think that you maybe shouldn’t have 3D printed 100% of it. Here is why: because a tape measure’s pieces in the middle are not accurate. The actual tape has some slop and some play in it in order to 3D print it and it defeats the purpose. You made measurements on it, and you have broken down to 1/8th of an inch, and that pretty much everything is broken down in millimeters because the machinery works that way. It is really not accurate. If you see it as 52 inches long on a measuring tape, it will measure 52 ½ inches in reality.
It also changes through time, because the more you roll it and unroll it, you will get more slack in the plastic piece hinges that are there so it gets worse. Imagine that you can 3D print this cool tape measure. What I would probably infuse and put into it is a cloth fabric measuring tapes that exist because it is soft and easier to work with. Those cloth measuring tapes are easy to work with. In terms of putting into a mechanism, you don’t have to make it into becoming a spring retractable like this design. You will pull it up and you have a crank to manually pull it back.
My dad used to have this one and I loved to have it. It was gigantic because it was for masonry work but it was cloth. It was 100 foot long and it was also leather covered. The case itself has a leather covering and metal on it. I just remember rolling it back up and it was my favorite job as a kid. I don’t love the metal ones around today as I am afraid that it might snap back at my daughter. The edges can be really sharp which is why it is not a great thing for small fingers. Kids love it because they can roll it and unroll it. The fact that they could do that is a good idea.
Practicality of a 3D Printed Tape Measure
I think this one is a challenge which is why we brought it up for Design Inspiration. I think that these kinds of things are that the challenge is great. But when you find out that it is not just an appropriate method in making something or not for all of it, then do it hybrid. What’s wrong with that? You should be vastly considering that 3D printing is not the answer for everything. This is a good test and experiment for sure, but I think that the lesson is that it is an admirable project. This makes the actual function of the product is made to perform in actually measuring things does not just work. But mechanically speaking, it is very impressive and it does work.
It was done in a machine but it was not an FFF 3D printer. It was printed on a machine that has dissolvable support material. Conceptually, it was done in the same way. You might still want to do it if you added a tape into it after the fact, and just print the rest of it. It is a nice design, it has a nice look to it with the whole pattern that it has gone doing for it. Some of it was necessary, but some of it was decoratively chosen. I think all in all that is cool. I love the hinge, the lock, the crank mechanism, and almost all of it. Somebody spent a lot of time working on this design. But anyway, it is a great example. It has different designs on the housing. It is obviously worth mentioning for sure.
The maker also says that the cut outs of the designs in there are not just decorative but they were necessary because of the process that they have to get on this material. You need ways for the fluid to get in there. It would have been a lot more difficult to make the case completely solid. There are only a few opening where the detergent or water that they used to dissolve the material could get in there. It is a functional purpose but I think it was also done in a decorative way. They could have done it to be more mechanical looking.
Final Thoughts on 3D Printed Tape Measure
We want to inspire you to find a great gift or to create a great gift for your dad because he deserves it. A dad is used to the typical Father’s Day gift. So if he got a 3D printed Father’s Days gift, it would surely make a common gift to be much cooler. I wonder what somebody with really cool 3D printing skills would make as a gift. I do think it is a great idea. If you have the skills go for it, try it, and be ambitious. That is what our Design Friday’s are all about; be ambitious, try something, and if it doesn’t work out, there is a way. There is always another method. Always try something new.
I have got a work bench in the garage for all my tools and where I get to use as my workplace. There are a lot of those metal wire-form pieces that don’t really hold the tools properly up there. It is very easy to design and 3D prints some proper fittings that would plug in there and would hold the tools better. There are a lot of ways we can use 3D printing in our home, business, or tool workspace environment to improve things. That to me is a perfect application of a 3D printing. That is probably what I would do for myself.
If you have some Father’s Day ideas, shout them out to us on social media, anywhere @HazzDesign.
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