Sep 17, 2015 | By Alec

Theoretically, 3D printers can be used to design just about anything, but the desktop 3D printers most of us use are somewhat limited to plastic. As a result, very few makerspaces are actually filled with 3D printed tools and trips to hardware stores remain as common as ever. That is just one of the many reasons why we were so impressed by the work of one Canadian maker, that would be a welcome addition to any workshop. Hardcore tinkerer Terry Thillmann designed and 3D printed a fantastic drill press, as we see in maker spaces all over the world, but impressively just about the complete load-bearing structure was made with a desktop 3D printer.

Thillmann’s story might be a bit recognizable to some, as it is people like him that enable the 3D printing community to thrive. Based in Calgary, Canada, he actually works in software development by day, but is absolutely crazy about designing and building – a hobby in which 3D printing has become indispensable. ‘My 3D printer has opened up a huge new world of possibilities and I'm always expanding on my skills and knowledge. I used to make robots with wood, but having a 3D printer has sped up the process immensely, and the results are always exactly what I had imagined. Heck, I even used my printer to fix my toilet one time by making a new part to replace a broken piece of plastic,’ he tells us.

However, this recent creation is far more complex than a bit of tinkering fun usually is. As he explains, this drill press was actually born out of a desire to start making custom circuit boards. ‘I like to also mess around with Arduino microcontrollers and microelectronics in general. I've wanted to start making my own circuit boards but the thought of hand drilling dozens (or even hundreds) of holes was off-putting,’ Thillmann tells us.

He therefore began designing models using Autodesk’s very accessible 123D Design software. ‘Overall, I think I spent about a weeks’ worth of evenings doing the design and test prints.  I do a lot of test prints to make sure that things line up correctly, have the correct spacing, and mesh as intended,’ he explains. 3D printing was done in red PLA with Thillmann’s own Rostock Max v2 3D printer, complete with an E3D v6 hotend. ‘I used a 0.3mm nozzle, 0.2mm layer height, and all parts have 15% infill. Total print time would be about 19 hours or so. The bed took 8 hours just by itself,’ he adds. Some black pads attached to the bottom were done in NinjaFlex, to add some additional grip – perfect for potentially dangerous spinning tools.

The impressive creation is thus just about completely 3D printed; only some carbon fiber tubes were added for extra rigidity, while the handle is carbon fiber with a 3D printed knob added to it. The drive gear and base of the handle are epoxy glued onto a fiberglass tube which is then held in place with 3D printed fittings,’ he adds, but the result is still a largely 3D printed creation that is truly remarkable.

What’s more, it works very well too. As you can see in the clip below, it is very stable and can easily drill dozens of holes in quick succession, each perfectly aligned to the previous one. In short, a perfect addition to any workshop and perfect for drilling through a large number of materials. Circuit boards should not be a problem at all. The only caveat is that the base could be done a bit more solidly and thicker, as the current model is a little flexible. Still, use it with care – as you should with any piece of machinery – and it works just fine. Perfect for making

If you’re completely sold already, there’s some good news. While not just available, Thillmann is planning to share the designs online through Thingiverse, though the biggest barrier right now is breaking the design up into pieces and writing a tutorial – something that can be more time-consuming than it looks. What’s more, Thillmann has already moved onto his next making project, a tracked vehicle with an embedded nerf dart shooter – the ultimate toy. ‘It'll be controlled with a wireless XBox controller and a laptop,’ he says, so we will doubtlessly hear more from him in the near future.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Tarjeik wrote at 9/18/2015 12:58:15 PM:

A slightly different design, but this has been done already several years ago:

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