Additive Manufacturing Strategies

3D Printed Hub Expands USB Connection Capacity

ST Medical Devices

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Back in the 1950s, houses were often designed with only one or two outlets per room. Since then, the standard has risen to require an outlet at least every eight feet along a wall, starting over anytime there is an opening in most rooms and every four feet in kitchens and bathrooms. The increase is a reflection of the rise in the number of electronic devices in use in the average household from electric toothbrushes to espresso makers to laptops. We are more plugged in than ever and now we even have devices we have to plug into our devices, causing a demand for USB ports that can’t be met by the standard number of connections anymore.

20150827_215542_preview_featuredOn my desk alone, I need a USB port for a keyboard, track pad, scanner, two external hard drives, and a card reader–but my computer only has four spots. Sure, I could buy a USB hub to add more, but why bother when I could make my own, right? Or at least, print my own using a design created by Mikko Syrjälä which would allow for four USB devices to be charged at once using the electricity from a 12V car battery. Syrjälä found himself in the same situation as so many others: a plethora of devices and a dearth of connections, and decided to do something about it.

In an interview with 3DPrint.com, he discussed what led up to creating this design:

“I own an old RV and there are only a few power outlets, so something that would add more would make a huge difference. I wanted to create something that wouldn’t require me to route power through a big inverter and use many small chargers. With this device, I can have all of that and it’s very efficient.”

20150827_215527_preview_featuredThe hub is created around a cigarette lighter charger which it uses as its source of power. To model his idea, he used Autodesk Inventor, first creating the 3D models of the non-3D printed parts such as the charger, switches, and LED indicator light and then developing the casing to surround them. It took Syrjälä less than an hour to complete the design and just under three hours to print it. He has shared the file on Thingiverse so that others can use it to reach maximum USB capacity quickly.

usb_chargingstation_preview_featuredA master machinist and electrical engineer, Syrjälä is already looking around for his next project, and this time he’s thinking on a much bigger scale. Frustrated by how much ABS costs to print and the large amounts of it that just get thrown away, he’s working to develop a machine to recycle the ABS back into usable media. He is getting closer to finalizing his creation, but there are still some refinements that need to be made before it’s street ready.

Even if you have to buy new filament though, this is a print that a lot of people will find worth the effort, so power up, print out, and plug in.

Will you create your own USB hub from this design? Let us know about your results in the 3D Printed USB Hub forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

 

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