This week’s selection is the Braiding Machine by Printables contributor “Jack”.
Jack is an incredibly prolific designer, having submitted, at last count, 347 unique 3D models to the rapidly growing Printables repository. Many of these submissions are quite interesting, such as the Ball-Socket Joint Tubing, Sodastream Bottle Dry Stand, and the Maze Maker.
One of those many 3D models caught our attention: the Braiding Machine.
This machine accepts as input a several threads, which it then twists into a braid. The design concept can produce two different types of braids.
Building this device requires printing and assembly of a number of parts, which apparently isn’t that challenging to do, according to the detailed online instructions on Printables. That’s impressive, given then rather complex design.
Operating is straightforward, and most of the work is in loading the threads into the receptacles. Once that’s done, you need only crank the device and a magic braid appears.
There are three variations of the Braid Machine provided. One produces a flat braid using 3-5 spools of input thread; another produces a circular braid using 4-8 spools; and finally, there’s an “educational” variation that uses only three spools to demonstrate the mechanical concepts involved.
Even better, Jack has also provided an OpenSCAD file that allows those familiar with that tool to modify the design to produce even more complex braiding systems.
While I am always fascinated with useful machines that can be 3D printed, this project is especially interesting. Why? Because the output of the machine is pretty much indistinguishable from commercial braids you’d find in a store.
In other words, the Braiding Machine could remove you need for a commercial purchase of braids. In fact, it could be used to produce braids that could be sold! This could be a potentially money-making design.