AMS Spring 2023

The Tail Wags With 3D Printing

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When I was a kid, I used to dream about growing a pair of wings. I could imagine soaring through the skies or just flapping them dramatically to emphasize my points. While I can’t say that 3D printing has yet enabled me to do either of those things, it has taken a step in the right direction by participating in the creation of an animatronic tail to be wagged at the wearer’s discretion.

microcontrollers_3d_partsThe tail itself is not 3D printed, instead it is the clip that holds the appendage to the clothing of its owner. The movement is controlled via an arduino and encased inside of a small, cleverly designed clip that both holds the motor and allows for its connection to your clothing – and all without requiring perforation.

My daughter was immediately entranced by the idea, using all of her best adjectives, “cool”, “epic,” and “can I get one?” This from a seven-year-old who is singularly unamazed by magic tricks and doll houses.

No longer are these kinds of accessories the toys of the super wealthy! You can make one of these in the comforts of your own home if you follow the careful directions outlined on the adafruit website. Whether for cosplay, Halloween, or acting out Furry fantasies there’s no reason you can’t create the perfect wagger for yourself.

The printed enclosure is made of four pieces designed for print on an FDM machine and then to be fastened using machine screws. They are optimized to print without requiring support material and the entire project is printable in about an hour and a half. The STL files are available for free download as part of the detailed guide for creating your own.

The servo tail at adafruit reduces the complexity often associated with the creation of such animatronics:microcontrollers_IMG_0002

“This project reduces animatronics to its simplest case, explains adafruit on their instruction page. Mechanical tails are complex stuff, often involving armatures for bones and cable mechanisms to simulate muscles and tendons. Rather than fighting against gravity, we’ll instead make it our ally. Thinking of the tail as a pendulum, a single small servo and a little math is all it takes.”

If we’re interested in introducing 3D printing to the younger generation, this might be a way in. Groups of teens sometimes gather in what are known as ‘wolf packs’ and dress as tail-bearing, stud-wearing, leash loving, werewolves. They use their tails as a signal to others with similar transitional identities in order to form packs with other like minded youth. Turning their attention towards programming and 3D printing would mean that not only could they have their tail but they could wag it too.

Let us know if you have taken on this creative project by posting in the Adafruit 3D Printed Servo Tail forum thread on 3DPB.com.

 

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