Improving Our 3D Printer Footing

While installing the 3D printed spool support upgrade to the MakerBot Replicator, I discovered that the MakerBot‘s rubber foam feet tended to fall off and roll into inaccessible locations behind my desk. After a couple times this occurred, I searched through the available 3D printable improvements for the printer on Thingiverse and discovered that I was not alone in my desire for an alternative. 

In addition to look-alike replacements for the original feet, I also found several designs that seemed to offer additional improvements in terms of noise and vibration dampening as well as a simple replacement for the original foam rubber tube-style feet.

Original and new 3D Printed Feet for the Replicator

After printing four copies of the Replicator Foot with Grip Pad, I stopped by my local hardware store with one of the 3d printed feet so that I could locate a grip pad that would fit easily. In the end, I found self-adhesive 3/4″ (19mm) vinyl bumpers that fit the 3d printed foot’s platform size and provided a good 1/4″ additional lift from my desk’s surface.

Self-Adhesive Vinyl Feet

While shopping, the store manager paused and asked about the bright neon-green object I was measuring against packages of standoffs. I explained its function and talked a little about how it was created by the 3D printer. He thought about this a bit as we talked while he examined the small object and then said: “This means the end of a lot of items we sell if people can just print them.” But then he continued that they “should become vendors for the raw materials used to make the things since this technology already exists.” I thought this was an excellent viewpoint and identifies an agile and workable solution to maintaining a supply business in the face of coming changes in manufacturing that rapid prototyping will bring about.

Foot installed with the vinyl standoff in place.

After getting back from the store, I applied the self-adhesive standoffs to the feet and simply slid them onto the MakerBot. Not only can I now move the 3D printer around without concern for lost feet, but it is far quieter in operation thanks to the vinyl standoffs holding it away from my desktop.

Another magnificent self-created improvement for the increasingly customized 3D printer!

Resources:

  • Replicator Foot with Grip Pad (Thing #24183): http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:24183
  • Self-adhesive grip: Available from any hardware store or Wal-mart in many different materials and colors, costing less than $5 USD in most cases.

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