Tube roller

by pintokitkat, published

Tube roller by pintokitkat Jan 24, 2013

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An adaptation of alany's tube key http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:21410
that includes a squasher frame and end cap to hold the key in place. The slot in the squasher is offset to help the tube go around the key.


Push the key through the two holes - it's meant to be tight - and then push the end cap on the key to stop it coming back out.

It was pointed out that the .stl file had two parts higher than the third one, so I've tried to realign them and centre them on the platform. New .stl uploaded that is, in all other respects, the same as the original.

Later still...
I beefed up the frame a bit as some people said it was too flimsy. I had also noticed that, whilst aluminium tubes work ok, plastic ones try to unroll themselves, so I turned the end cap into a ratchet wheel and added a spring to the end of the frame. It seems ok, but only time will tell.
Use the original key, but use the tpr2 ratchet and tpr2frame to make the improved version.

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it looks good, but too weak, the hole parts broke, if it could make it thicker, that will be wonderful

The holes don't seem to be a problem for most people, but I included the Sketchup file so, if you want to beef the holes up a bit, carry on.

Nice work!

Except: When I finished a tube there was no easy way to get the tube out. Not with the ratchet thing in the way. I broke the pin.

Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, I guess that's the thing with ratchets! You need to slip a piece of card between the pin and ratchet to hold them apart while you pull the dead tube out. Or just carefully hold them apart with a fingernail.

I found that when I printed it, I had to enlarge the 2nd ratchet piece by 2% in order to fit over the key end. Otherwise, it works good.

I printed it in yellow ABS. It turned out perfect. I had to wedge the retaining band on the end of the 'key' so it should hold nice.
It worked so well, I made one for my son.

To @asllexicon. You added the 1 mm and it ran OK. Perhaps the STL held on to that 1mm fix and when you ran it again, you added 'another' 1 mm. Just a guess, Frank

To @pintokitkat, When I get to nothing runs, I know it is time to clean the work table. LOL Frank

Excellent design! I had to resize the ratchet, up by 1mm. I'm using the MakerBot Replicator 2 and PLA. I did 3 shells at 40% fill -seems very durable. Many thanks!

Update: The first tube roller I made was with green PLA (all my filament is from the MakerBot store). I had to print the ratchet three times to figure out that it needed to be increased in size by 1mm. I switched the filament to white PLA and printed two more tube rollers with the increased size of the ratchet (all the same day). The next day, I switched back to the same green PLA. This time the ratchet was too big. All same files, same PLA, same printer -does anyone have any suggestions as to why this would happen? I am relatively new to 3D printing and would appreciate any advice.
This tube roller excellent!


Glad you like the design. All I can say is it worked for me. As far as I understand it, exactly why 3d printing seems so random is because it's all magic over which we have a tenuous control at best. I can print something one day - perfect. The same thing the next day - hopeless.

Magic, I tell you!


That's the best answer I heard! I appreciate the response and your design.

Comments deleted.

Repost from my make comments
Generally great design, easy assembly and straightforward function.
This was my first print and just a settings test at 0.1mm layer height (been printing at 0.2mm up until now) and printed great on the office F306 printer with 0.4mm diameter nozzle. No problem with structural integrity in PLA and still plenty of flex for the ratchet catch.

Sliced on Simplify3D
0.1mm layer height, 60% infill, 2 shells,
60mm/s (will be trying at 100mm/s soon), min layer time 4 seconds,
210C except at hole in the frame for the roller peg (205C to ensure that there was no over extrusion).


  • I can understand why some people might need over-sized peg holes but if your machine is well tuned, the holes in the tpr2.frame.stl file could have been a bit smaller as contact with the ratchet catch is borderline with the amount of play between the hole and peg. Perhaps it was intentional to ensure minimal friction with the roller, as I will say that the problem seems to go away when a tube is actually being squeezed as the peg is pulled to one side under tension between the tube, frame and roller peg.
  • A 45 degree chamfer at the corners of the frame (1.5-3mm) would soften feel of the device considerably and I intend to do this if I reprint the frame at a later date.
  • Also would recommend that if you are using this for a Crest Complete tube (165ml) you might do well to add +/-2mm to the width of the device to account for some variation in tube end width (my print tube was a bit of a pain to get in the holder initially, though still only 25seconds or so, not terrible; just could have been quicker on the first go).

Had to really hammer the tubekey through the hole but it worked! You can see the timelapse video here:

Thanks for the heads up :P

Can you please upload the editable files. I like this a lot, but it's about 1/8" short for the width of my sensadyne toothpaste.

I've uploaded the Sketchup file.

Glad you like the gadget.

This would have been great if it weren't for the ratchet stopper thing, which is very easy to break, and it did, in 2 places, within minutes of handling it. There has got to be a better way. I put some acetone on it and am waiting on the results, but I think the piece is too brittle for the acetone to hold it in one piece for long.

Did you make it from PLA or ABS? PLA seems more brittle, ABS more forgiving.

I appreciate it's delicate - you could beef it up a bit, but several people have made it and keep using it without problems.

PLA is more brittle, but has plenty of flex to work for your design (I made one in PLA, works great thanks!). mza1979m Might just have some layer adhesion issues if it was printed in ABS.

I head to scale the ratchet to 105%.

This was one of the first things I printed, but I still use it pretty much everyday :)

Strange - me too!

Nice idea, but either i don't get how to use it or it's a bit impractical.

You take this with a nearly depleted tube in one hand, the toothbrush in the other hand, and... what to crank the key with?

There is not enough tube left to squeeze.

Would be nice to have a similar item with a one-hand-crank-capable shape.

Ah, I can see your problem - you only have two hands.
The point of the thing is not to use it to dispense toothpaste, but to use it to encourage the paste to the top of the tube, if you are happened to be blessed with a partner who insists on squeezing it from the middle.
So, put your toothbrush down for a minute and leave the cap on the tube. Wind the key to push the paste to the end of the tube. Stop winding and use that hand to pick up the toothbrush. Then take the cap off the tube and use the brush to wipe the paste off the wall, where it has now splattered under pressure.

The key works fantastically but the walls on the squasher were a bit thin. Snapped one off on my second tube of paste :(

Might need a little triangular buttress or something - or just wider

The rest is brilliant though!!

I've heard that from a couple of people and, as I'm working on an improved design anyway. I'll beef the walls up a bit. Thanks for the feedback.

This works great. The squasher was a great addition. My only suggestion for improvement is to make the squasher a bit thicker so that the walls around the holes are thicker/stronger. They are rather thin and breakable, at least with my print. Cheers!

This happened to me too. Both holes (where the 'key' goes through) broke almost immediately with no pressure. Fabbed in ABS.

can you upload each part individually? i would like to lay the holder down, should print quicker.

Well I can do (in fact I will) but with it laying down the slot, which is only a couple of mills wide, would probably fill up with strings as it tried to span the gap and internal support would be a pain to remove.
Anyhow, up they go.

Ha, that's nice. Simple, yet powerful. :-)

There is a problem with your STL. Both the bracket and the knob are 0.24 mm above the floor.