With 3D printers, the ability to imagine, design, and create a part with dimensional accuracy of 0.1 mm or better, all in the span of a day is a technology that is not just available to big companies, but also to small businesses and even home users.
3D printers also allow for the production of niche parts that wouldn’t otherwise be profitable. Of course there are limitations. For example, you aren’t going to 3D print a part like a hammer head or a chisel without expensive equipment and secondary processes because the technology just isn’t there yet.
You also are limited by the speed of the printing process. The only way to make multiple parts faster is to run more printers. Still, 3D printing creates so many new opportunities.
One area where consumer-grade 3D printers and filaments are proving very useful is in tool storage and organizational accessories, something I have been involved in for a while.
Below is a list of what I think are some good examples of products that you can either buy or print yourself*. This should help you see some of the more functional possibilities of 3D Printing technology, beyond the toys and trinkets that you might have seen over the years.
*In fact some of these parts may have pushed Stuart over the edge into finally ordering a 3D printer.
Milwaukee Packout-Compatible Accessories
The Cord Cobra from Packible Tool holds up to 100 feet of extension cord using 3D printed hooks that mount to the rails of your Packout Toolbox.
Packible Tool prints these holders out of carbon fiber infused PLA. They are currently $30 plus shipping.
Packout Bit Bins
Imagine using one Packout slim organizer case to carry all of your screwdriver bit accessories – and in a neat and organized manner – rather then having a number of random bit boxes. These Packout bit bins accept Milwaukee style bit holders. You can remove the holders right from the (wide) red cases and snap them into the bins.
This design is freely available to download and print and also available to purchase from a few different vendors.
In case you are having trouble imagining the possibilities, this example shows what a fully custom-accessorized Milwaukee Packout organizer can look like.
To outfit a slim Packout organizer in this manner involves using the aforementioned 3D-printed bit bins, plus several custom 3D-printed bit and socket holders, as well as the contents of several Milwaukee power tool accessory sets.
This kind of packaging isn’t cheap, though, since most of the cost is in the accessories. The case with all the bits, the accompanying bit bins, and custom holders is offered on the JakeOfAll store and will run you $661 before shipping.
Milwaukee RedLithium Battery Holders
Dennis Smallbone makes quite a few different battery and tool holders, but to me his most iconic product is the Milwaukee RedLithium USB battery and charger holder.
In order to purchase the battery holder or any of his other products you need to message Dennis on Instagram – @dennissmallboneprints.
Custom Packout Latches
@Deckedout_Packout has come up with a cool way to label your Packout boxes: customized latches. These latches replace the old latches on your Packout tool boxes.
In order to purchase these labels or any of Deckedout_Packout’s other cool prints, you need to message him on Instagram.
TSTAK Bit Bins
This bit tray is designed to fit the large Dewalt TSTAK organizer bins. They will also fit in the bins from Craftsman Versastack organizer and the Dewalt Deep Pro Organizer, but they will NOT work with any of the Tough System organizer bins.
The tray accepts the bit holders from the Dewalt ToughCase and ToughCase+ systems. It has the same dovetail system as the ToughCase boxes for holding the bit holders. The tray has approximately the same capacity as a single side of a ToughCase box.
This design is freely available to download and print and also available to purchase from a few different vendors below.
Dewalt ToughCase Small Parts Holders
With some customized bins, the medium ToughCase+ box is perfect for storing small parts.
This design is freely available to download and print. What’s more, there are several versions available and the model allows you to extend this design using openSCAD’s built in customizer.
Ridgid Tool Box Accessories
Organizer Nesting Cups
Sometimes large organizers have bins that are just too large for your needs. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to partition those larger bins to make use of that wasted space?
These “nesting cups” sit in the top part of the bin, allowing you to store larger objects underneath, while also providing smaller spaces to store other parts in a space that would otherwise be wasted.
This design is also freely available to download and print.
Remixed Nesting Cups
The great thing about releasing designs under a license that allows for other people to modify or “remix” them, is that other people will actually do that. And, they might come up with designs and uses that the original designer either didn’t think of or didn’t have time to add.
The above remixed nesting cup from drsnore adds a second tier of nesting cup for even more efficient use of the space available.
Another of drsnore’s remixed nesting cups gives you more space in the large Ridgid bin and works around the tabs intended for removable dividers.
Since the original design was released under a license that allows other people to modify the design as long as they publish the modifications, this design is also available to freely download and print.
This is just a small sample of what is available and what is possible with 3D-printed parts. Most of the links I’ve provided above offer more than just one product, and I would highly recommend exploring what each one offers to get an idea of just what is possible.
Here are a list of all the sources referenced in this post:
- Deckedout Packout via Instagram
- Dennis Smallbone via Instagram
- JakeofAll website
- Packible Tool website
- Swanky Storage via Karpenter
- Ben’s Thingiverse Page*
* Stuart’s Note: These links are to the author’s reference pages – definitely check them out. You can also follow Benjamen’s 3D-Printing adventures at @electronsmith on Instagram.
Also, if you don’t have a 3D printer, but want to have some part printed, check out the guide I wrote on this site last year.