Friction Welding Rivets

by mifga, published

Friction Welding Rivets by mifga Mar 13, 2013
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As it happens, a Dremel or similar rotary tool can be used to perform a "blind rivet" using friction welding techniques: 3D printed rivets fused into a 3D printed surface.

More on this technique as I begin to share projects I created that make use of blind rivets.


After experimentation, I have determined that it is better to print these flat with the long thread runs on the horizontal plane. And that printing 1/2 to 3/4s of the rivet produces a part that can still spin and fuse pretty much the same way that an entire rivet works.

Also, printing these from the base of the rivet up to the mandrel tends to produce rivets that break too easily on the layer, so while it is tempting to bring a whole army of them on their bases, I recommend flat instead, but perhaps nine or twelve of these at a time.

Included in this project are two test parts -- a "base" and a "pancake" layer. You can line up the hole through the pancake with the depression in the base to teach yourself the gentle touch required to touch the spinning rivet to the base such that the "melt zone" is shared equally by both base of blind rivet and surface of base. At that point, stop the rotary tool, holding the rivet in place until it cools. It can help to use something to press against the rotary head so that it spins down more quickly. The release the mandrel from the rotary tool and you have a nice blind rivet!

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I'm guessing you print these rivets 100% infill?

I've had good results just loading 1.75mm filament into my rotary tool, especially for installing filament as a hinge.

Yep, this works fine as well for welding seams and creating small posts. If you check out the collets I have my hand in the photos you'll see the 3-ring Dremel collet (3/16th) that grabs 1.75mm filament really well, and the 1/8 collet that works for 3mm filament or the handy rivets I created. Did Nick show you this? I"ve bene sharing this technique with a few folks in town.

It's pretty fun -- I have done a tutorial for this and some other related techniques for the upcoming issue of MAKE (late april shipdate, I believe) Will start sharing the projects I created with this in April leading up to the launch to help folks experiment with this technique.

I look forward to checking that out.

I recall a toy back in the 70's that used friction rivets.
I tried finding a link online but I am not sure what the name of the toy was.

Spin Welder. I had one.

cool! thanks for the name of the toy, I had no luck finding one, but i was searching for rivet not weld!!!

Yeah, this project was inspired in part by the project Fran Blanche shared over at Frantone where she attempted to recreate a tool like the SpinWelder: http://www.frantone.com/designwritings/design_writings.html#welderhttp://www.frantone.com/design... -- I also talked to metal workers about riveting as well.

I would make them 3/4 with a flat between edges. What a great idea. Someone should do customizable for everything like this for hardware. Including gears. and it should be free, or not at all. Think Library.

1/2 or 3/4 work just fine. I stuck with the size I made the example after experimenting with bigger ones -- these printed and fused more easily.

This is awesome! Did you try printing those things standing up instead of in two halves? I'm picturing a grid of them designed so you can twist one off.

I tried that -- printed a bunch of them! but they snapped too easily.

Ah, I get it, the "grain" of the print needs to be parallel to the shaft.