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2 Mar 2015, 18:00

DesignSpark Mechanical to 3D print

This short article shows two of my first designs.

First I must say DesignSpark Mechanical is a great free tool, powerful and relatively easy to learn, just make sure you watch the videos they will provide the essential guides on what to do. Also learn what you can do with the mouse, it has the essential visual tools right at your fingertips!

The picture shows how I made a replacement part for a dash cam clamp. The original part failed on its second day, so a stronger redesigned part was required. Using callipers to measure the key dimension and analysing how it actually works a new design was created in DesignSpark Mechanical. Being relatively new to the CAD package I ran into problems creating it in its 'flat' orientation, however for me flipping it on its side and drawing the 2D side profile and then pulling that made the creation process much simpler, so don't just 'dive in'!


The 3D part was created, exported to STL, processed in CURA and printed. The part was cleaned up, replaced on the clamp and worked perfectly.


In the photo there is also a 'boss' which will form the base holding a tube for another design (watch this space).

A keen electronics design engineer with experience in many areas, Spent 30 years in a science environment providing technology solutions to enable scientists to optimally perform their work. Has involved every type of component I can think of! From fempto amps, 5kV supplies, Liquid Nitrogen cooled PIN diodes and CCD's, micro power components for portable applications and class 4 argon lasers. Looking back I was privileged to be a paid 'hacker' with interesting projects to design.

2 Mar 2015, 18:00


December 9, 2017 12:48

An update on the 3D printed dash cam clamp. It has operated reliably since being printed, which is longer than the OEM part, so a complete success! As I have purchased a new dash cam I examined the original and it does show signs of wear in the holes where the pin locates, this is due to side ways loading on the shaft when the clamp is in the 'clamped' position. Reviewing the design this was to be expected, but perhaps an alternate material to PLA would have exhibited less wear?
Alternatively the pin could have been replaced with a different material such that it became the sacrificial part and became a service replaceable item.
The holes in the PLA part could have had a metal insert for a longer life design.
Even the PLA could have been treated with super glue 473-455. I often 'post process' 3D printed parts by layering on super glue which while liquid is absorbed between the printed layers, this makes the part much more robust to forces that try to separate the layers, but noticeably harder which may also improve the wear experienced.
For out of door applications I also coat 3D printed parts with clear lacquer as used for top layer of metallic paint on cars, this provides a smooth shiny finish when built up in thin layers. I do this as a water proof protection layer and works well, but I haven't done any 'real' comparisons 'with' and 'without', has anyone else explored this?
I note RS PCB lacquer 569-290 also states it provides UV protection which be worth exploring.
Anyone else have any tips on post processes they use on 3D printed objects?

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