When 3D Printing Comes to the Rescue

In preparation for the March for Our Lives, in Los Angeles, my daughter and her friends designed signs to carry while on the march. Having gone through two Women’s Marches in the past using signs with sloppy supporting posts that didn’t last, we needed to develop a more effective solution to hold the signs for the entire morning.

My first thought, “Can I design a solution and 3D print it?”

We needed a way to attach round wooden 3/4″ dowels to flat foam board signs. The round dowels are more comfortable to carry than the flat wooden stakes we have used in the past. Ideally, we needed two types of brackets, one that could serve as a cap at the top of the dowel, and a second that could be placed anywhere else along the length of the dowel. We could then attach each of these pieces to the back of the sign. The design had to wrap around the dowel, yet sit flat on the board. After a few iterations, here’s the final model, designed in Tinkercad.

Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 11.06.36 AM
On the left, the bracket that can be placed anywhere along the length of the dowel. On the right, the bracket that serves as a cap at the top of the dowel.

While the models could be printed flat, with the dowel portion sitting up like a bridge, I chose instead to print them as seen in the picture above. Using this orientation, the print layers work to our advantage, as each layer traversed the shape of the entire bracket. Had we printed flat side down, each layer would represent only a portion of the bracket and might lead to potential breakage as the dowel pulls away from the sign.

IMG_6710
Printing the brackets

To fasten the brackets to the sign, I used one of my favorite tools, Mr. McGroovy’s Box Rivets, with a heavy duty hole punch to make the holes. This hole punch works well for foam board, cardboard, popsicle sticks, and craft wood.

With all parts printed, here are the final results:

IMG_6715
The cap bracket
IMG_6712
The second bracket
IMG_6719
All together

The prints worked out well, and the signs survived the day at the March. We now have this design file for future sign-making needs. Want to print one? Download it here at Thingiverse.

March (1 of 1)

 

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