Magic Pivot Business Card Dispenser

by skovgaar, published

Magic Pivot Business Card Dispenser by skovgaar Mar 24, 2013

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This business card dispenser has a snap-on lid, but there is no material at the axis of rotation, so it looks really cool. When you rotate the lid, the oval hole lines up so that you can slide out a card with your thumb. There is also a little nub that catches and holds it closed.

Video: http://youtu.be/P1VHHy6cXok


I never bothered to figure out how to properly orient my stl files, so you'll have to flip them around in your slicer. The parts are not symmetrical, though, so if you mirror in z make sure to mirror another axis (x or y) so that the little catch mechanism that holds the lid closed ends up on the correct side.

The tolerances on the pivot mechanism are a little finicky, so I have included two "proof of concept" stl files to test it out. That way if it doesn't come out right you won't waste too much plastic. If it's not working, try lowering the print speed, make sure you're not overextruding or underextruding, etc.

I used a clamp to force the ends together, try and line up the lid and base so that there is minimum overlap of the pivot mechanism to facilitate snapping them together without breaking it. There are a total of 6 sliding contact surfaces, but in some orientations only 3 of them are touching (about 22.5 degrees from the closed position). This is how I would recommend you line it up before snapping it together.

Initially, it was quite a tight fit and didn't spin very well (I'm guessing from little blobs on the sliding surfaces, so clean them off!). After playing with it for a while (about 20 minutes) I was able to get it to spin really smoothly. Alternatively, if your proof of concept print is binding too much, take some sandpaper to the sliding surfaces (lightly) before snapping the parts together on the real thing. Once you have it worn in nicely, dab a little WD-40 on the pivot for extra silkiness.

Also, put a little rectangle of clear tape on the ramp inside of the base, otherwise the layers will grab the edge of the business cards and they won't slide out nicely.

I had some pretty significant warping at the corners, so I imagine you would get better results on this print if you have a heated bed.

Edit: I added some with ears to reduce curling without a heated bed, which work beautifully.
Edit: some people are having problems with the joint being too tight. I have added files in which I have concentrically widened the groove on the top piece.

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Would you be so kind to upload your design as a step-file?

Sure thing. Make sure to post any derivative works; I'm interested to see what people do with the design.

How many of these parts do you actually need for this? there are a ton of files on here..

is there a reason your bases are all printed that way? would it not be easer to print the other way?

hmmm, I'm not sure exactly what you mean. What do you mean by "that way" and "the other way?"

just printed this out on makerbot z18, had an attempt with scotch tape on the printbed, this curled and pulled the tape up
then tried on the bare bed which held perfecly, also had the chamber at a toasty 35 degrees
havent snapped it together yet, but it printed great

Only thing I see to do to improve this is to make some recessed holes for magnets so that it has more "bite" when you close it. Maybe thats something i could work on as my first project. I'm still at the finding cool things and printing them phase.

Skogvaar, would it be possible to have .ipt parts of your magnificent card dispenser for personalization via email?

I'm not sure what you mean, as the .ipt parts are already posted and free to download and customize. Can you explain what you are asking more clearly?

Oh, I'm sorry - my bad. I didn't scroll down enough... Sorry for the disturbance.

I made one, but the corners were too thin and they bent when I snapped it together. I was also not able to swing it open and closed easily. I think it is a great idea, but should offer deeper reservoir for cards and be easier to snap together without bending or breaking it.

Skovgaar I also use Inventor and would love to personalize your amazing card dispenser. Could you make the .ipt part available or email ti to me?

The Inventor .ipt files are posted :)

Just printed this. Came out great. One issue is that the Base is "upside down". Using OpenSCAD, it was easy to flip (so solid side prints first). Simply save the Business_Card_Holder_Base.stl file in the same directory where the code below will be saved:


Thanks for a neat design!


the circle mechanism could you do just a part of that in the front to make it lock. so 2 groves left side right side then the lid "circle part" would slide into it as you rotated it back to shut. there fore locking it.

Ahhhh, I see. That's a really smart idea. I posted the inventor files, so have at it. Post what you come up with as a derivative :)

cool will do thanks for sharing!!

Made it! really cool. Would like to know is there any way you could add 1/2 a circle to the front so it stays locked down mines curling up also can you shrink it to fit just credit cards I'd like to use it as a wallet! Or post the Autodesk files so I can modify. Thanks!

I don't understand what you mean by "1/2 a circle to the front." If you want it to fit credit cards I would recommend scaling it down in your slicer to the appropriate size.

I wouldn't recommend using WD-40, as its intended purpose is not to lubricate. I would use a standard household oil or a multi purpose penetrant that's designed for lubrication.

We're not talking about lubricating your car's engine, it's just a freaking plastic business card dispenser. I assure you, WD-40 will do the job just fine. And while we're on the subject, WD-40 does indeed lubricate, as it contains mineral oil (a light, low-viscosity lubricant). Anyone who tells you otherwise is spouting off something they heard somewhere trying to sound smart.

Yeah well, I'm telling you otherwise, and I'm not trying to be smart and I haven't heard it from someone. Well guess what, I've educated hundreds of people on the use of WD-40 vs other lubricants. It's my JOB to know what lubricants and greases to use in what applications. WD-40 will work great initially but it will be detrimental later on. Speaking of trying to sound smart, anyone can Google what ingredients any product has.

Well, you guys have convinced me. Now, I will only use Mobilgrease 28 http://www.exxonmobil.com/USA-English/Aviation/PDS/GLXXENAVIEMMobilgrease_28.aspxThehttp://www.exxonmobil.com/USA-... thing is, I'm still not convinced that it will withstand the extreme temperatures, high rpm, severe radial loads, and long life requirements that this rigorous application requires. If this pivot fails, we're talking millions of dollars and hundreds of lives lost. It was foolish of me to trust something so critical as the rotating joint on a plastic business card dispenser to anything less than the highest grade industrial aviation lubricants.


Way back in my cub scout days, we built these 'cub car' things, just blocks of wood with wheels, to see which would get the best distance rolling down a ramp. A few of us tried wd-40 on the wheel axles. They all broke.

It's oil AND chemical de-ruster. The former won't bother plastic. The latter is death on plastic, at least some plastics.

I had trouble getting the fit. I had to use my slow, dremel-like tool thing to grind a bit away from the bottom inset parts. However, I gotta say... the result is one excellent Thing. It is sooo cool! Thank you!

I just made two of them, a third one is printing. The first used the standard files, worked but warped from being too tight. I used the loose top for the second build and left it on the build plate to cool down to avoid warping. Parts came off perfectly flat but were warped when snapped together so I had an idea, how about stress relieving/deforming it in boiling water (212F) for a minute or two? First attempt, I did it for almost three minutes and then plunged it into ice water. This did the trick, EXCEPT, the thin bottom wall warped a little. I am going to do the second one for a minute and see what happens.

Take some sandpaper to the surfaces that are binding before assembly. It won't add much time at all to your already extensive post processing.

Just printed the standard files, both at once on my replicator with not raft (thanks to a bed leveling pattern I tried out the other day. It snapped together fairly easily but the thin part is warped enough that cards would fall out.
I am going to try it again, two ways:

  1. Let it completely cool down while still stuck to the heated build plate so it is held in place while stresses relieve themselves.
  2. The version with the extensions.

Great design, and the looser version worked great on Rep2 PLA. I see in the video that you personalized a version with a monogram, which would be very special. Any chance of sharing an editable/Scad or similar format?

OK, I went and answered my own question. You can open STL in OpenSCAD and attach or carve out intersections. Looks like it will work well...

What did you design this in? Very cool...

I use Autodesk Inventor. Autodesk gives students a 3-year free license for any of their software, and it is absolutely amazing.

Keep it up! Your ideas will make you some $$$ in the future!


I would like to see a video showing how it works! ;)

video posted

Thanks for the video! Very nice device!

PS. It was me asking. I have tried to delete the post, without success.

Okay, I'll get one up this afternoon.

I printed out the proof of concept. Too darn tight to turn. The base bends when I attempt to turn it more than 2/3rd's of the way around.

I just made another one myself to test out how well the ears prevented warping (pretty darn well!) and you're right, it is very tight in the beginning. I played around with mine for about 20 minutes (just enough time to sit and watch a tv show on hulu) and got it spinning quite freely. If you don't want to take that long you could lightly sand the sliding surfaces before snapping them together. Also, any little blobs on the sliding surfaces will cause it to bind, so make sure you have them all cleared out.

I just printed one as well, and it is helplessly stuck. Could you create a version with some more tolerance?

I have experienced the following rule of thumb on my Rep 2:
Tolerance gap = 0.1 mm (radial difference): Very tight fit, a lot of friction
Tolerance gap = 0.2 mm: Some friction, will stay where it is left.
Tolerance gap = 0.3 mm: Lose, can move freely.

This is for a single gap, appiled on inner-outer diameters the values are doubled (so an axis with diameter difference of 0.4 mm to the hole would have some friction).

My result of the "proof of concept" In ABS plastic http://i.imgur.com/al205Li.jpghttp://i.imgur.com/al205Li.jpg

It's just to darn tight man and I mean so tight I can't get the thing to turn more than 1/3 of a turn. If I printed out the regular version I have no idea how I could even get it assembled.

My result of the "proof of concept" In ABS plastic http://i.imgur.com/al205Li.jpghttp://i.imgur.com/al205Li.jpg

It's just to darn tight man and I mean so tight I can't get the thing to turn more than 1/3 of a turn. If I printed out the regular version I have no idea how I could even get it assembled.

My result of the "proof of concept" In ABS plastic http://i.imgur.com/al205Li.jpghttp://i.imgur.com/al205Li.jpg

It's just to darn tight man and I mean so tight I can't get the thing to turn more than 1/3 of a turn. If I printed out the regular version I have no idea how I could even get it assembled.

Sorry you guys are having problems. I added some parts named "top loose" that have a wider groove, let me know if it works for you.

Printed "top loose" and it works much better. Thanks!

Just printed the new looser proof of concept one and it fits and turns much easier. Thanks for looking into that for us.

It is unfortunate that this is too big for my T-O-M.

I think you could scale it down to 95% of normal and it would still work, or you could trim your business cards :)

How close is it? I've seen a couple different specs for the tom build area (I gather that it depends on how you configure your build plate). The cards definitely have some wiggle room; I did some quick calculations and I think it would totally work if you scaled it down to 95% of the original size. Or you could scale it down more and trim your business cards :)

The build platform on my TOM is 120x120 edge to edge. It looks to me the stl's without the "ears" might print barely on that size platform. However if you use the "skirt" function you might run into problems.

I got it to fit by simply rotating 90 degrees, unfortunately I cant get the first layer to go down nicely, I'll have to play around a bit.