Istarted with a design from Thingiverse.com and imported it into Tinkercad design software (which is free at Tinkercad.com). I then went to work making
drawers that fit what I wanted. My thought was to make a
box to contain all the parts for one design. Then, when I
want to build that design, I could just pull out the box and
go to work.
The first box I created held leaded devices like
resistors and capacitors, but it could just have easily held
strips of surface-mount components. The difference was it
took up way less space and I could print any arrangement
I wanted. Because the boxes were so small, I could glue
them together for even more customization. I had one
larger parts drawer that I purchased at Home Depot and
CHIPINO modules, but the size was far larger than I
needed. So, I decided to create custom drawers that could
hold everything from the circuit board all the way down to
the individual LEDs and 1/8 watt resistors. When I was
done, it saved an incredible amount of space.
The purple box shown in Figure 2 contained four
different drawer layouts. I was able to fit enough
PRACTICAL 3D PRINTING ■ BY CHUCK HELLEBUYCK
3D printers are the wave of the future — or so countless
articles, reviews, breathless news commentators, and, of
course, the machine’s manufacturers keep telling us. By
now, we've all seen a plethora of itty-bitty cubes, Yoda
heads, chess pieces, interlocking gears, and other
interesting but ultimately useless "things" created with
3D printers. Though many of these little demo pieces are
impressive by themselves, they never quite cross over
into the realm of *useful.* As we believe the "what is
3D printing" topic has been done to death, we thought it
was high time to bring you a useful series on how to
actually implement 3D printing. Specifically, working
with 3D printers and showing you how to use them for
practical projects on your workbench.
■ FIGURE 1.
■ FIGURE 2. Large drawer storage vs. small drawer storage.
I've found many uses for my da Vinci 3D printer, but
recently saw a design on Thingiverse.com that piqued
my interest. It was a small storage box with drawers
(refer to Figure 1). Since then, I've seen many different
storage boxes for electronics including pill boxes and
large plastic cases with drawers, but one thing was
always wrong with them. Either they didn't fit all the
parts I had or they required lots of inserts to make the
drawers fit the parts. Why couldn't someone just
design a box especially for electronic components?
With my 3D printer, I realized I could.
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