Device to produce PLA springs

by edmo, published

Device to produce PLA springs by edmo May 22, 2013

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Check out mekmekmek's customizable version here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:188285

Hutch914 put it in the Makerbot customizer, too, if that's your thing.

Rather than spend time printing springs for a project, I made this little mold to make them out of raw 3mm PLA filament. It measures 3/4" by 3" tall. Since there are no shear planes in this twisted filament, the springs it creates will be a lot tougher than anything printed.

I think this concept could be used to produce torsion springs as well as conical compression springs with different molds.

If you wrapped the filament around a dowel with the sides of the filament touching, you could make an extension spring instead of a compression spring.


Please see the JPG in the gallery here:

Autodesk Inventor file is included for modification.

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Did you use supports or raft?

Neither. It prints fine without them


I have given you, and the others who made the scad file, full credit as you did all the work. A thousand thankyous!

Spring Form Customiser

Wonderful! This is an excellent addition to this idea. I've added a link to your customizer in the part description.

Have you tested it to see if it follows Hooke's Law and if you can get a predictable spring constant?

You will get a predictable spring constant for most materials as long as they stay in the elastic region, as soon as you get plastic deformation (deformation that will not return back to it's original size and shape) it will no longer conform to Hooke's law past that stress point.

I've scaled this and made some really useful 1.7mm PLA springs. Would love someone with the skills to produce a Makerbot Customizer version.

Nicely done! You made this idea usable!

I agree! I really need to sit down and learn openSCAD.

Really innovative idea, even among the 3d printing crowd. Thanks for sharing!

Edmo, you have opened another door of creativity in 3D printing! Great job. Andrew (http://3dhacker.com3dhacker.com)

Ah, but is it strong enough for the delrin plunger replacement?

Way to think outside of the box(printer) making springs this way is awesome

great thing, but if you could add first and last coil to be flat to craete circular base for spring it would be just perfect

This is genius!

What about using a (snap-fit) case instead of the tape?

Not a bad idea. I also thought that an internal screw structure in a block could work, too. You could just force the plastic through it and get a spiral out the other side. I don't know how well this would work in practice, though.

Hi~it`s great to produce the PLA spring.May I ask a question?What liquid is it in the cup?And what paper is used for protecting the PLA?

Hi! The cup contains hot water. About 90 degrees C. The paper is masking tape.

Great idea! Any reason why you're working with PLA instead of ABS? if I make the mold out of ABS and create PLA springs will that still work? Thanks

It's what I had on hand. I see no reason why an ABS mold wouldn't work.

very very nice idea. Would be cool if you made a customizable of this one. Perhaps if someone could suply as well a calculator to calculate the spring force?

I don't know much about openscad, so I don't know if I could do the customizable one as fast as someone else.

I meant to take this into work and get a force measurement from it but I forgot. I'll try it on the digital scale and see what kind of result it'll give me.

I think the spring force would also be affected by the filament you have. Although a parametric spring maker would be awesome.

As Makulator also said, these springs will loose their tension over time. So they may only be useful for limited applications. They look nice though.

By time, too. Thermoplastic materials exhibit time-dependent strain when exposed to constant load, and constant load inflicts time-dependent tension. They partly behave like fluids, and a unloaded spring will not relax completely to the size it was before loading. The remaining deformation depend on time and force applied. So the force of a compressed spring will diminish over time.

I think this kind of mould could also be used with some metal wire, which would be more durable.

This is just great! I have many pieces of filament by now, too short to be of any use in my Bowden tube system, that could make a stack of springs!

If you've got a bowden tube, I thought you could just put the little pieces of filament in there and they'd get pushed by the pieces behind. I feel like people have done single head multicolor prints that way (instead of the fused filament method). Citation needed, however.

this is quite cool, it could be used to replace the springs on idlers i think, well perhaps in 1.75mm it could. Great design i hope it gets featured.

Thank you. I wish I had some of the smaller stuff. I think it could be useful for low-torque torsion springs.

Any ideas how to do it without microwave? I could give it a shot, but I don`t have one.

Hot water on the stove ought to do it. You want the filament soft enough to be flexible, but not molten.

also you can use a blow dryer, thats how i make the filament into small spools

Ok, I`ll give it a try ;)

Wow! It is simply great!!!! Thanks! :-)

Thank you! I can't wait to see what you do with it!


I think this basic idea could be used for much more than springs. For example, maybe producing little plastic plants?

I like that idea. Maybe using the filament as stems and printing leaves? you could weld together "branches" with a soldering iron.