AMS Spring 2023

New Zealand Man 3D Prints the World’s Smallest Working Drill — Just 7.5mm Wide

6K SmarTech

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drillani3D printing has shown that it is the perfect technology to use when wishing to create something unique, whether it is a piece of jewelry, a keepsake, or even a house or car. The technology, unlike that of more traditional means of manufacturing, is an affordable way of creating one-of-a-kind products, and is one of the reasons I love covering the industry. There is always something new to report on, and today is no different.

Lance Abernethy is an ordinary man from Auckland, New Zealand. He works as a maintenance engineer, fixing machinery in a factory. However, the idea that recently popped into his head was not ordinary at all.

“I have always liked small things and have created small items since I was a little kid,” Abernethy tells 3DPrint.com. “I was with my work colleagues and was talking about mythical stories about one country making a twist drill and sending it to another. The other country returned it with a hole through the middle. Things like this easily challenge me and my idea was born.”

The 3D Printed Drill

The 3D Printed Drill

That idea was to create the world’s smallest working drill, and he would do this using his Ultimaker 2 3D printer. To start off, he used a CAD software package called Onshape 3D. He drew the outer shell of the drill, using his “normal” size drill as a reference.

“I wanted to make it as small as possible so I cramped all my parts as tight as possible,” Abernethy tells us.

Once he had the design just the way he wanted it, he 3D printed it on his Ultimaker 2, using a 0.25mm nozzle and a 0.04mm layer height. He also set his printer to print very slowly, at just 10mm per second. Printed without any support, the 3-piece drill took about 25 minutes to completely print out. The drill consists of two halves plus a 3D printed chuck which is pressed onto the motor shaft. Abernethy uses a hearing aid battery for power, a small button, and a miniature motor. For wiring, he stripped out a headphone cable. While 3D printing was really quite easy, assembling the drill was another story.

drillfeatured2

“It took me 3 hours to solder and try and squeeze [all the parts] in,” he tells us. “The wires kept breaking off when I was trying to connect them and it was a nightmare trying to hold them in place and try to not short the battery.”

drill3When complete, the drill — which measures just 17mm tall, 7.5mm wide, and 13mm long — holds a 0.5mm twist drill and can drill through soft objects.

“I have seen claims of the world’s smallest cordless drill and I know mine is smaller but it’s not a confirmed claim,” Abernethy tells us.

What’s next for Abernethy? He wants to make an even smaller drill, using a smaller battery that he has already found. It should be interesting to see how small he can get it. What do you think about this incredibly small 3D printed drill? Discuss in the 3D printed drill forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video of the drill below.

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