Engineer 3D Prints Functional Hand Tools Including 110-Piece Tape Measure

3d printed dial calipers

These dial calipers, 3D printed with PolyJet technology, surprised Daniels with their accuracy – and they were ready to use as soon as the support material was washed away. Photo courtesy The Corner Case blog.

Mechanical engineer Brian Daniels, who trained as an aerospace engineer, uses measuring devices and tools on a daily basis in his work. So far, he has prototyped a set of calipers and a wind-up tape measure that stretches to over four feet! Created on an Objet Eden 3D Printer, these tools are accurate enough to be functional (particularly the calipers), and were usable as soon as the support material was removed.

The set of calipers has nine moving parts, including inside and outside jaws, depth gauge and dial. The tape measure, in addition to the tape segmented in half-inch pieces, contains a lock, a crank and a belt clip – over 110 pieces in all, fully assembled from the 3D printer!

3d printed tape measure

Daniels’ 3D printed tape measure, produced on an Objet Eden 3D Printer, shown here “extended,” contains more than 110 interconnected pieces. Photo courtesy The Corner Case blog.

The high resolution accuracy of the PolyJet technology, combined with the full assembly and complex geometrical possibilities of 3D printing, set Daniels’ imagination afire. “Ever since I was a kid I’ve been building or designing things,” he told the Stratasys Blog. “When I’m not building or designing something, I’m thinking of doing exactly that. I’m addicted.”

Why tools? After seeing the celebrated 3D printed wrench video from Stratasys at his workplace, where an Objet Eden 3D Printer is “on hand for prototyping,” Daniels was inspired: “When I thought of mechanically complicated things I could print I guess my mind just started down that path. With the dial calipers, I liked the challenge of printing a precision instrument with an integrated gear train. With the tape measure, the part count was the selling point.”

3d printed tape measure

The design for the 3D printed tape measure has a winding mechanism and a belt clip – all the essentials! Photo courtesy The Corner Case blog.

Choosing to 3D print in a single material was meant to open the possibility to a wide range of additive manufacturing users. “I purposely tried to make it so my tape measure could be manufactured with only one material. That way it can be made on a wider array of machines and not just ones capable of printing dual modeling materials,” Daniels told Motherboard in an interview.

There are more ideas on Daniels’ drafting board, and we’re eager to see what comes next!

This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified), Portuguese (Brazil)

Comments

  1. Richard says:

    Make this open source so anyone can download it.

  2. M. Blythe says:

    If I’m folloing correctly these items did not require assembly after printing?
    This being the case (particularly with the calipers) how did you manage to acheive the tollerances required for such a device? To my knowledge you are required to leave a substantial gap (>1mm) between functional parts to ensure they don’t fuse together.
    Regards,
    Matt

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