CORRECTION: The design which Bixler 3D printed is actually a patented design, created by a company called Swiss Tech.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!! OK, maybe not Superman, but one high school student has taken his love for 3D printing and created a unique tool which is in fact quite super. Called the multi-tool, high school senior Brett Bixler certainly passed the grade in designing a product that can serve multiple purposes.
Bixler, who is a recent graduate of Liberty High School, describes himself as a student who has an affinity for engineering and building things. In fact, in the past he has created scratch built RC airplanes from foam board, one of which (The Fury Flyer) has gained him a bit of internet fame. This month, Bixler will be attending the United States Air Force Academy, with plans on majoring in mechanical engineering. In the mean time, however, Bixler has been experimenting with his 3D printer.
In doing so, he designed and 3D printed a tool which features many movable parts, yet can print as one single object.
“Having already created a 3d model of a multi-tool at my high school, I decided to take the challenge of modifying the multi-tool so it can be printed in one piece,” Bixler tells 3DPrint.com. “It took me about 10-15 prints to get the tool to work right off of the print-bed.”
The tool, as Bixler tells us, works “flawlessly.” As you can see in the video below, it can function as a flat head screw driver, a Phillips head screw driver, and even as a set of pliers.
“This tool is made out of PLA so I didn’t expect much from it anyway,” Bixler tells us. “As for the pliers, I can pick up my phone (heavy Note 3) with little effort. Again this tool is made out of plastic so I didn’t expect much from it in the first place. The claw part of the pliers are serrated to aid in grabbing things. This tool is a very interesting design because the two drivers rotate 180 degrees allowing the pliers to open up. The two drivers that are now rotated outward allow you to put more torque into the pliers.”
Once it is done being 3D printed, the multi-tool must have a little bit of support broken free, and then it can easily unfold and begin being utilized. When the tool is not in use, it folds up into its original 3D printed state and can easily fit in your pocket. The moving parts rotate quite easily, yet provide for enough friction so that the tools stay in place while in use.
Another cool fact about the multi-tool is that it can easily be 3D printed on the fly. It took Bixler just 25 minutes to print it out on his Printrbot Simple Metal 3D printer at speeds of 50mm/s and a layer thickness of .2mm.
While the multi-tool is quite functional, since it is constructed entirely out of PLA plastic, it does have its limitations.
“It was mainly a print to demonstrate that moving parts can be printed as one piece,” Bixler tells us. “Scaling the tool up in size would increase durability but I designed this one to fit into a pocket with ease.”
While Bixler is now off to the Air Force Academy to concentrate on larger and more important projects, he has made the design files for this incredibly awesome tool available for others to download and print themselves at home. Those files can be found on Thingiverse. Check out the video below.