Featured image of This Open-Source Hack Lets You 3D Print Springs
It's Just a Spring Thing

This Open-Source Hack Lets You 3D Print Springs

Picture of Matthew Mensley
by Matthew Mensley
Nov 19, 2018

With a simple scrap of G-code, you can make your FDM 3D printer extrude unsupported single-strand coil springs. MakeFast Workshop shows us how.

Those professional tinkerers at MakeFast Workshop have done it again. Taking a long hard look at 3D printing through a crystallized lense of curiosity, they yelled into the void in search of new directions. And the void whispered back: “single-strand springs”.

Inspired by the lone string of hardened filament ooze that stretches to the print head’s end position upon print completion, MakeFast takes this unloved thread of wastage and turns it into objects by design.

Going against the usual design parameters of FDM 3D printing — i.e., supporting overhangs, ensuring good layer adhesion and so on — MakeFast outlines a method in which to extrude filament into thin air, including curves and surprisingly tight angles, cooling sufficiently to preserve its structure and maintain a (somewhat) uniform shape.

It’s a marked departure from other 3D printed spring designs which, when following ‘traditional’ 3D printing conventions, have to be larger to support overhangs and the like.

Put Away the 3D Pen: 3D Print Simple, Tiny Springs

With the exception of features such as bridging, printing into thin air could be considered uncharted territory. 3D pens trivialize the ability somewhat, thanks to colorful packaging and the imprecision of hand-drawn results. Handing off free-air printing to the tight control of a 3D printing motion system, however, can yield surprisingly decent results.

MakeFast details the crucial factors at play as flow, constant and slow travel, dry filament and pull compensation.

In essence, for spring-printing success, you need to ensure your flow rate is 1:1 to match the distance traveled. A slow and constant extrusion travel speed allows the extruded filament the time to solidify without distortion, and, depending on the type of spring printed, it’s necessary to distort the model, adding a flare in the upper reaches to compensate for the effect of pulling exerted on the spring as the print head circles.

Handily, all of the above is moot if you’re no G-code whizz since MakeFast has graciously created a Midair Spring G-code Generator. Simply input your desired spring parameters, and the generator will spitt out workable G-code for you to insert between your Start and End G-code.

As always with the organization’s hacks, the Spring G-Code Generator is open source (the code is generated in javascript on the blog post’s page for all to see) inviting further development and experimentation.

There are probably few useful applications for these small springs that we can think of, but as a demonstration to prompt more in-depth thinking on the necessity of overhang support, it’s pretty effective.

Source: MakeFast Workshop

License: The text of "This Open-Source Hack Lets You 3D Print Springs" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Subscribe to updates from All3DP

You are subscribed to updates from All3DP

You can’t subscribe to updates from All3DP. Learn more…Subscribe

You can’t subscribe to updates from All3DP. Learn more…

Recommended for you