We’ve always thought project kits are a great entry point into 3D printing, and we’ve found a really interesting one for 3D printed clocks that you can certainly customize nearly every aspect of these from the numbers, to the hands and face of the clock.
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Project Kits 3D Print Components
We started thinking about project kits and 3d print components because it’s kit week with the interview with 3DKitbash. We were thinking about what are some ideas about project kits because that’s a great idea, is to use parts whether they’re bought or found, and put them into your 3D prints. We’ve talked about this before about our friend Vicki Somma, she puts mirrors into one of her projects. She shared that with us before. The idea of being able to put components together.
But we’re also searching for, especially on this Wednesday episode, is for projects that educators can do and clubs can do, things that would be great for kids in learning experience and great for you as a learning experience as well. This one we thought of, it’s like, why not 3D print a clock? This company Kitronik.co.uk, Kitronik in the UK, they have interworkings of clock that you could set in. You could either attach them to something you’ve 3D printed, or maybe you can maybe set it in and 3D print around it.
There was a time at which clocks were very complex mechanisms on this earth, when they were all mechanical, before electric batteries and motors and all the good stuff. You had to be like a clock master, there’s got to be a name for that, I don’t know what it is. A clock maker, watch maker, whatever. There’s probably another term for that type of what was a very highly skilled profession way back when, and probably still is. I know there’s still mechanical watches that are sold and repaired at a very high end level.
The reality is, with the reality of electronics and chips and batteries and all that, that the components for pretty much every clock that people would buy at retail today are all the same and they’re modular. These actually parts are available online. Your typical clock mechanism is in reality about $2.50. In the UK here, it’s listed on their site, including Value Added Tax.
Now, I’m sure there’s probably some places in the US that carry these components. That’s why you probably don’t have to order them from the UK. This is just the one that we know of and found online. Other things, like numbers of different materials that people would buy and add to some material if they’re making a clock by hand or out of some nice material. You can obviously 3D print numbers right in.
That’s the thing. If you wanted to choose their standard clock face, which is just a simple wood disk, for lack of a better way to describe it, it’s just simple. You could 3D print your own numbers. You could add embellishments to it. You could create a way at which you are personalizing that. I think that’d be a very fun thing. You could put it in a baby’s room or a kid’s room. You could have some fun with this.
This is a great project that kids can attack themselves, they could work with adults on. Or a gift you could gift to somebody. I think it’s a great fun project that’s really simple to start working on and conceptualize. It gets you through that design ideation. What do I want that clock to look like, how cool is it? How am I going to create that? I think it’s great student project as well for a teacher to consider doing or as part of a shop class, a STEM or STEAM education class. There’s a lot you could do there.
I think it presents some interesting challenges too because I would imagine, with the length of the minute hand, which is the longest hand, to make a clock of a decent scale, it’s probably going to exceed the build plate size if you would try and print an entire clock face in one print.
It could make more interesting project to have to create your clock design out of multiple pieces that get each printed on the build plate separately and then assembled together after. Of course, you could play with color as well as shape and texture and all sorts of great things there.
Anyway, we thought this was a fun project. We wanted to bring it to your attention and start to get you thinking about ways at which you can incorporate existing kits that are out there and projects that are out there and combine them together with 3D print customization.
I think the opportunities go far beyond a clock. I just think that that’s a good one. Even though we all have watches on our smartphones. Our smartphones tell time I guess is the point. I still wear a watch and I still like to have a clock on the wall in my home, either in my kitchen or my family room or something so I can just easily look up and see the time.
There are lots of other potential projects as well. I’m remembering back quite a while in our business experience, and we talked about this in the car the other day, that at one point we had a business that we designed and developed a special kind of a pen for handheld computers. I remember personally making the original prototype and sample of that by actually turning a material on a lathe down to a very small diameter to make a pen body. It was a unique design and shape. Then cannibalizing the mechanism or the guts of a ballpoint pen that you push a clicker to propel it and then to bring it back. Cannibalizing the guts out of a pen and putting it together to make that sample.
Realizing now, wow, how easy it would be to now have designed that? Because I actually designed that pen on the computer. I made a 3D model and then I just made drawings for what I was going to make the sample of. I could model that entire pen and 3D print it today, including the mechanism portion on the inside that would allow the pen click function to work.
The reason it came to mind is there’s this company in New Jersey that sells pen components including the little springs on the inside and then all the little plastic plungers. That’s their whole business. Then there’s a little intermediate piece in there that makes that whole click out and click in thing work that rotates. The company’s called Rotary Pen. It’s been a long time but I bet they’re still there in New Jersey selling the same components. You can make your own outer shell and just use their inner components and not have to mold anything because they’ve got them, why reinvent that wheel?
There’s another kit project that you could do. You could make a whacky crazy pen. Now, I’m remembering the pen that our plumber friend gives us. Oh my gosh, that gigantic pen. Or not a plumber friend, I’m sorry. He’s no plumber. He’s a locksmith. I’m remembering the wrong person. He’s a locksmith and has this monster pen. It’s like ten inches long and it’s like an inch in diameter. The thing is just a huge fat pen. The kids love it.
It’s printed with his locksmith company name on it. You never going to lose that pen. Actually, you probably can’t get rid of the darn thing if you wanted to. If you need a locksmith, oh where’s that big pen? You don’t forget, that’s for sure.
I think there’s lot of fun little kit projects that could be done combining existing components. Even places like Michael’s Arts and Crafts has certain kinds of components and kits that you could use as the basis for a project and then expand that with the endless possibilities of 3D printing.
You’ll want to listen to the episode with 3DKitBash. They’re going to talk about ways at which you can really use a printing kit to test out your machine. I’m looking forward to that episode and I’m looking forward to testing out those models, to test my printer out too, that they have. That’ll be exciting. You’re not going to want to miss that one.
If you have a great kit idea or project idea to use 3D printing to either educate students on different aspects of whether it’s physics or science or something like that, or just the art of exploring the form possibilities of something. If you have a kit idea then let us know. Share it with us. You can comment at the bottom of the blog post on 3DStartPoint.com or reach out to us on social media or send us an email. We’d love to hear about it.
- Kitronik Project Kits 3D Print Components
- Comprehensive Printer Testing with 3DKitbash
- Pausing Prints – Tech Tips Revealed
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