Hey! This thing is still a Work in Progress. Files, instructions, and other stuff might change!


by CaptainKirk, published

Zipper by CaptainKirk Nov 5, 2011

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This is a working zipper mechanism. I printed it as an experiment, inspired after the zipper on my wife's coat broke. (I don't think I can print a replacement, yet.) There might be applications to join small sections of a structure to make a large object, but mostly it's a toy.


Print two of the ZipperHalf parts and one ZipperY. I sized it to fit well with my Thing-O-Matic using an original MK6 Stepstruder. Clean up any stringers. There may be some small chaff on the print, but manually interlocking the zipper teeth a couple times will allow the Y section to zip it fairly smoothly.

There's no provision to unzip it, just pull the two sections apart.

This works as is, but I marked it as a work in progress because once I get a MK7 Stepstruder I may try to make some refinements, including an unzip mechanism.

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Will it work with PLA? Or is it prone to breaking then?

What are the chances of printing this off really tiny?


This terminator jacket has really tiny zippers that are fully functioning at 1/6 scale. I assume that they are made at a specialist micro injection molding facility but I have never been able to find any in the wholesale places that I know.

I suggest you try printing the tooth sections on their side, as in my experience anything narrow printed straight up has tended to quickly snap off through de-lamination (layers peeling apart from each other). However, you might not get as much 'bite' friction of the layers keeping the teeth together if you do that.

I managed to print it 1/2 scale from the .stl.

I think it will need a 2-3x thicker backing for real use at smaller scale, though.

Needs to be 7in long at 1/2 scale for a proper test.

I added some half scale parts, but maintained the backing at 0.5 mm. The Zip45 is at a 45 degree angle, so it should fit a ThingOMatic and is almost 6 inches long. (Sorry, my naming convention is getting rather unwieldy.)

I haven't tried printing this, please let me know how it goes.

I use ViaCAD, if anyone wants the native files I can upload them.

It's best to always upload the source files. STLs are not impossible to edit, but more like a binary where you could modify it, but it's really not the preferred format for modification.

Hi Erik. I uploaded the ViaCAD files for the original size.

The half scale .5mm backing thickness parts work pretty well. Still need a practical use for this though...

sir, i tip my printed hat to you

pretty cool idea!

How small did you get it to print?

So far, just as shown. Each zipper half has one tooth every 7 mm, so joined there's a tooth every 3.5 mm. The joined cross section is about 5.5 x 7 mm. I think that's about twice the size of a big bulky zipper like you might see on a parka.

With 1.75 mm filiment and a 0.3 mm nozzle maybe you could get down to a printing actual replacements with a more flex-tolerant plastic than ABS.

That's pretty cool. I love seeing these proof-of-concept type of things. It'll be interesting to see how you can improve it over time.