Over the past few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with 3D printed watch bands. I originally had the idea for a watch band when I was brainstorming movable print-in-place objects. Below you will find background information, step-by-step modeling instructions, tips on iterative design, and common pitfalls to avoid.
3D Printing Basics
3D printing is a type of additive manufacturing that creates a three-dimensional object by building it layer by layer from a digital model. The benefits of 3D printing include: fast production, cheap manufacturing, easy learning, and freedom of design.
Printing in Place
Print-in-place 3D printing is the process of printing movable objects as one piece. Many print-in-place designs feature hinges and other moving parts. Printing in place entirely removes the need to assemble after printing which increases efficiency and, in some cases, functionality as well. A print-in-place 3D print is just as it sounds.
To design and model my print-in-place watch band I used the 3D CAD software Solidworks (TinkerCad is a free alternative to Solidworks).
Step by Step Instructions (Simple Watch Band)
Iterative Design,Testing, and Prototyping
Throughout the modeling and 3D printing process, I employed an iterative design approach. Iterative design is a method of continuous improvement during prototyping. To utilize iterative design thinking while making your own print-in-place models, analyze and refine the design based on the results of testing the design. Then, ask questions that lead to changes.
Here are some example questions:
Common Mistakes, Issues, and Troubleshooting
If you are following along and designing your own watch band, you may have questions or run into issues. Here I will discuss some common issues and questions: