Quite a few years ago – maybe even a decade – I signed up for and received a free 3D printed adjustable wrench. It was meant to be a proof-of-concept advertisement for rapid prototyping, from Stratasys, if I recall correctly.
Over at Thingiverse, user jsteuben designed something of a similar spirit – adjustable tongue and groove-style pliers that really work. His 3D printed adjustable pliers are fully functional, and since they’re made of plastic they can also possibly be used in non-marring applications.
You wouldn’t want to use plastic 3D-printed pliers for demanding applications, but there’s a certain appeal to them. They probably weigh a lot less than steel pliers, although that also reflects on their strength.
What I’m thinking is that these would make for excellent children’s pliers. Toy pliers are often made of colorful plastic, but lack the look and functionality of real pliers. These are somewhat closer to real pliers, plastic constriction notwithstanding.
The designs can be scaled up or down to suit your needs or preferences.
More Info(via Thingiverse)
It’s work checking out the designer’s other 3D printed tool designs, such as their file handles, compound forceps, and tool tray.
Thingiverse has a good number of practical 3D printed tools:
3D printing is not (yet) the panacea that everyone seems keen to make it. If you want a plastic wrench, you can make it faster, cheaper, and stronger with injection molding. (I would bet standard metal plier is cheaper too)
Unless you only want 5 or 10 of them… but people seem to be applying a rapid prototyping solution to mass production applications. I dont get it…
atleast make a pair of pliers with such a ridiculous shape that you can remove the oil plug from the top of the engine bay or something…
I have no illusions about what these are. I just thought it was neat to see.
Here’s my rant-like discussion about 3D printing. Not much has changed in the 2 years since then. https://toolguyd.com/3d-printer-capabilities-and-how-the-media-blurs-reality-with-science-fiction-fantasy/
Yes, of course injection molded plastic pliers would be better than 3D printed ones, but such production processes have huge initial setup costs.
Actually a lot has changed Stuart, we are finally seeing technology for robust and strong prints.
Yes, it is pricey but so were all 3D printers a few years ago. We’re also seeing massive price drops in current tech
So there’s that, but I agree, that there was a a long period of not much innovation.
So a child’s toy?
They could be.
Or, you could potentially 3D-print pliers with specific jaws to fit a desired task.
This could be a great way to get your kids interested in tools and technology. They could design it with you and then play with it after it’s printed. How cool is that?!
For one, I’m excited about this. We are still in the gimmicky novelty phase of 3D printing, with a few practical applications showing up more and more. I have read how 3D printing is allowing for cheaper, faster fitting of prosthetics, for prototype use, etc. right now I think we are in the neat but what is it good for stage. Remember, at one time, people were saying that horses would never replace oxen, cars to replace horses, or that electricity would be good for anything but lights.
What I like is that you can make things that aren’t being made-even if just for yourself. I wanted a ring with a Phoenix bird on it, so I used to app for that on shapeways.com to design it. I had it made of stainless steel, but I could have had it made in gold, plastic, brass, etc. Total cost about $US34.
Very cool example of 3-D printing! It’s interesting to watch this phenomena take off and really revolutionize the manufacturing industry!
I can see somewhere down the line, metal deposit printing. It’s not that far fetched.
They already do! And some companies are already using it for production parts:
Hell, even airbus is using 3D printed parts in use already!:
Pliers and hammers made on 3-D printers are silly novelties. But create a special pliers jaw cover for gripping odd shaped widgets? That would be practical. I think the best use of these printers that I’ve seen is fabricating replacement plastic parts for tools and appliances. It’s a common frustration when a weak but critical plastic part breaks on a mechanical or electronic device turning it into junk. Manufacturers should provide or sell a 3-D computer file that lets a user print the broken part.
I love the idea of this for kid’s tools. The ones that come in play kits are just for make believe and don’t do anything. Kind of worthless. As you point out, this way a child can learn how to use actual tools from a young age. Even tools made in various kid sizes. Of course, they may then try to undo random fasteners you may have around the house with them 🙂
It is fascinating technology with quite a bit of promise. Not there for regular tools, yet.