Universal Dovetail Mounts and Clamps
Author: Donald L. Merand for Explo
What Is It?
This is a set of modular dovetail parts that you can use to attach your 3d printed objects to each other, sturdily and without fasteners! They are handy to attach parts together when you need a clamp, or a joint, or when your printer dimensions aren't big as the part you want to print.
These came about because I keep wanting to attach things in various ways to different surfaces and objects. I'm intellectually lazy so I don't want to have to design a part more than once. The way I figure it, if I've solved the problem of clamping an object to a table, I should separate the clamp-part from the object-part, and that way if I need to clamp a different object to the table, I can re-use the clamp-part and the only thing I have to re-design is the object-part. The same goes for a ball and socket clamp, and for a magnetic table clamp.
Then I realized that I could just design bare "female" and "male" dovetails and I could just glom them onto my models in my slicer! That's even easier than designing a joint, so I've included those "DIY Dovetails" here as well.
I've included some sample images of useful devices I've made for myself using this system. Hopefully those will inspire your creativity!
How Do I Make One?
You print it on your 3d printer :) I've solved the problem of clamping an object to a table, attaching an object to something metal with magnets, and having a ball+socket joint that you can clamp shut (ie for a camera mount). I might add new things to this project if they meet my requirement of being universally useful.
Printer-settings-wise, I find that you don't need anything finer than .2mm vertical resolution for the dovetails to work, and they're working fine for me on most of my printers at 0.3mm resolution. Depending on the orientation in which you print them, you might need supports, but I've made the angle shallow enough that it'll print without supports in most orientations.
Let me know if you print it and find it useful!
How Do I Modify This Design For My Own Use?
The best way is to use the public Onshape document I've created for it. Each model included on this page is there, fully parametric so you can change every dimension that matters at all.