12th Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver

by Shipbrook, published

12th Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver by Shipbrook Dec 17, 2015
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My attempt at modelling the Twelfth Doctor's new sonic screwdriver, introduced in the episode "Hell Bent". (Edit: because a couple of people have asked, the cover image is an actual photo of the finished object, not CG. The second image is of the CG model.)

Yes, there's an absurd number of parts to it. I separated into multiple parts for ease of painting and to try to eliminate overhangs. Although I separated the latches into each individual component, I also included a "prebuilt" version (though I don't think it looks quite as good when printed).

It's hollow most of the way through, in case you want to include electronics, and unscrews at a couple of points to facilitate that.

In addition to the 3D printed parts, you'll need five lengths of 5mm-diameter clear acrylic rods, and several short bits of 2mm-diameter brass wire to hold the latches together (unless you use the unibody versions). See the "build instructions" document for complete details.

The fit will be extremely tight when it comes off the printer, as it is intended that the parts be sanded down to get rid of the layer striations before painting them.

Print Settings

Printer Brand:



Ultimaker 2






0.1mm layers




I printed using the following settings:

  • Shell thickness: 0.8mm
  • Bottom/Top thickness: 0.8mm
  • Brim: 5 lines
  • Nozzle size: 0.4mm
  • Print speed: 50mm/s
  • Top/Bottom speed: 15mm/s
  • Outer shell speed: 30mm/s
  • Inner shell speed: 40mm/s

It took just under 10 hours (printing all parts at once), using a little under 5 meters of filament.


See the file "Build Instructions.txt" for complete post-printing instructions.

How I Designed This

Modeled in Blender 2.76 based on the preproduction schematics released by BBC America, and modified to match screenshots and close-up photo from Rubbertoe Replicas (who built the original prop).

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Looks awesome. I am new to 3D Printing. If printing this hollow what is the inside width of the hollow space?

Assuming you mean the large rectangular-ish part that the switch goes onto, it's roughly 1.9 x 2.1 x 2.65 cm inside (give or take a little bit depending on your printer). Though note that the corners are curved, so that reduces the interior volume a bit from that.

Hey could u share the 2d shapes of the switch pieces . I would like to get them laser cut, I think that would be cleaner.
Awesome work tho !

Sorry, I don't know anything about what file formats are used in laser cutting, nor which particular 2D shapes you're after. But you're certainly welcome to import the STL(s) into your modeler of choice, extract a cross-section, and then export it in whatever format you need for your laser cutter.

Hey, I don't know how to edit stl files :/ I'm kinda new to 3d printing.
If possible could you please send a PDF with the 2d shapes or outlines ?
Thank you :D

I'm afraid Blender doesn't do PDF export (or SVG, for that matter).

But here's an image showing the important cross-sections of all three switch parts: https://i.imgur.com/foVdIo1.png

Hope that's enough to give you a good starting point

This is honestly the prettiest thing I've ever printed. Thank you soooo much for the design.
I replaced the acrylic rods with 3d printed ones from luminescent filament, will definitely post a picture once it's all assembled :)

PS:I think the silver cage and the two discs at the bottom with cut outs for vanes should be printed a little bigger (even if you want to sand it) maybe 1-2% more. And the assembly text instructions are just confusing. After the first few steps I decided to rather look at that parts alignment picture, that one is great. (y)

Thanks for the comments! Can't wait to see your make of it. If you can tell me how the instructions are confusing (which steps, etc.), I'll see what I can do to clarify them.

Regarding the fit of the parts, yes, they may be a bit snug when they're fresh off the printer, but that's by design - different printers produce different tolerances, and it's easier to make parts fit if they're too tight (by sanding them down) than if they're too loose.

for example seg11 in step two should have been seg6, right? And names like "silver ring with four straight ridges" would be better than segX but maybe that's just me.

No, step two does reference seg11 correctly - the four vanes are intended to line up straight with the flat faces of the square part of the body, which is seg11. So the step has you dry-fit the necessary parts, and mark where the vanes should be attached.

As to the naming... since a lot of the parts have similar shapes, I felt that referring to them by their filenames would make the document a lot more readable than something like:

  1. Screw the 12x12x7mm cylinder, the 13x13x4mm cylinder, and the 12x12x5mm cylinder with a tapered end onto the part consisting of two cylinders of slightly different diameters (one of which has a grid pattern engraved into it) and a bolt sticking out of one end...

But perhaps it would be useful to label the parts on the exploded view.

oh, right I get it now. Yup, something like the printer assemblies usually have for screws and such but those are just a minor details, really.

Comments deleted.

Can I ask where you got the acrylic rods from?

I got mine from Amazon, but the ones I bought are currently listed as unavailable.

If you're in the US, I'd suggest US Plastic, as I've bought from them before, but they're firmly entrenched in the Imperial measurements camp, and don't offer 5mm; the closest they have is 3/16", or 4.7625mm. Maybe that would work (possibly with a little glue or epoxy). (http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?sku=44652)

Every now and again you come across a thingi that you can only just say "Wow, just Wow." This is one of those Thingis.

Please tell me where you got those plans!

I saw it posted on Facebook, did a Google Image Search for the largest one it could find, which happened to be on the BBC America website.

It seems to be gone now, but fortunately I saved a copy: http://i.imgur.com/vrl2rxn.jpg

Anyone come up with a suitable light source yet?

Cowkitty's make of it has a pretty nifty lighting setup. Check the video of it in action on her blog: http://burbankmakerspace.com/project/3dprintedsonicscrewdriver/

Oh thank you so much! And brilliant job on bringing us this fantastic toy!

Hi Shipbrook. Great model! I've just sent the files off to a contract 3D printer as I have no access to a printer or file viewer. Could you tell me the approx. length of the acrylic tubes please as I have no way of taking it off from the drawing. I'll post pictures when it's complete. Cheers


Four of the acrylic rods (solid, not hollow tubes) should be 6.9cm long, and the fifth should be 8.2 cm long.

(This information, and much more, is contained in Build_instructions.txt, which I highly recommend reading all the way through before you begin the finishing process.)

Comments deleted.

building now,10 parts at a time. this is going to be brilliant! thanks really lookinf forward to having my own home built SS. your the man

Please post pics when you're done; I'd love to see how it turned out for you.

how many of each part are needed,i wish to build the full moving sonic screwdriver.

One of each, although instead of printing one each of "Latch01" through "Latch18", you can print two of the "Latch-Prebuilt" parts. I think they look cleaner when you print the individual bits, but you may prefer the convenience of the prebuilt ones.

Where are the light pieces? Just curious because this is very cool.

I was reading your instructions and read the part about the acrylic rods, I assume these are meant to be the light things but where would I be able to get them?

haha I'm back.... again, what type of paint did you use? I've used spray paint on other projects but it just rubbed off. If you could answer my many questions it would be terrific.

I got the acrylic rods from Amazon. Just search for "5mm acrylic rod".

As to the painting:

Step 1: Sand the hell out of the model. On most parts, I did numerous passes, using successively finer grits (150, 220, 320, 600, 800, 1000, 1500, and 2000). For the latch parts, since they were printed flat, I basically just sanded their edges. The smoother you can get the surface, the more like metal it's going to look when it's painted.

Step 2: Airbrush with Alclad II paints. These give the most metal-looking finishes I've seen (their chrome paint is a mouth-watering thing of beauty).

Step 2a: Prime. I used Alclad's Grey Primer and Microfiller (since it was printed in white, and the next step would be black, I used grey so I could see when I got full coverage for both this step and the next one). For best results, go over it with 4000-grit micromesh after it's dry. If you don't want the paint rubbing off, don't skip the primer.

Step 2b: Lay down Alclad Gloss Black base. This is utterly essential for making the metal paints look more metallic.Try not to touch the painted surfaces at all (it'll pick up fingerprints like mad).

Step 2c: For the parts which will eventually be painted blue, put Alclad Bright Silver Candy Base on over the gloss black. This needs to be done in VERY light passes; if it goes on too thickly, it'll craze as it dries, and just won't look good at all.

Step 2d: Put on the final color. I used Aircraft Aluminum, Polished Brass, and Candy Electric Blue.

Let each step dry for at least an hour before moving on to the next one.

Alclad also makes a gloss clear coat, but I've never used it. If I planned on handling the model a lot, I'd probably give it a try.

Thanks for the info :)

Segment 19 seems to have some issues with improper scaling when I bring it into simplify3d. it ends up being like .4mm wide.

Aha, that one was exported at the wrong scale, sorry. Fixed.

Awesome! Thanks! I'll post some pics when I get it printed and assembled.

most of the parts are really really really small when i import them

What's your definition of "really really really small"? Most of the little latch parts are pretty tiny.

Super job! So much detail!