Solving Problems with a 3D Printer
A couple of years ago I purchased a 3D printer (Lulzbot Mini) to allow me to develop and produce a violin shoulder rest. Here is the second generation - I think it's great. See www.vsr.ravitz.us for more information. In addition to its primary usage, the printer has helped me solve some of the world's biggest problems. Here are four of the most important solutions.
Of course you need a 3D printer to implement these solutions - they can be purchased for a few hundred dollars or, I'm told, libraries have them. And you've got be able to design useful parts - I use a free program call OpenSCAD but you have to design the parts via programming language rather than visually.
I like to use a magnet to hold my name tag button to my shirt at dances - easy to move, no holes in my shirt. I don't like using a single magnet that has a widely dispersed magnetic field and is difficult to remove (I keep short fingernails to make playing the fiddle easier). So I obtained 3/8 diameter by 1/8 height magnets and 1 inch steel washers (I could not find magnetic stainless steel washers). The magnets sit on the washer, separated slightly, with one oriented north up and the other south up. The shape makes it easy to remove. The button, washer, and magnet orientation encloses the magnetic field for a very strong bond and greatly reduced stray field. This works very well, but -
The early versions required glue to keep the magnets in place and the washers rusted. When I got the 3D printer, I designed a snap together case that holds the magnets in place without glue and prevents washer corrosion. Problems solved.
The white heel wedge in the photo is a four degree lateral wedge that helps rotate your ankles slightly, improving your step. I like this - I don't know how many others it would help.
But the wedge won't stay in place. I found a flexible, but not spongy, filament (the plastic that the printer prints with) and designed a wedge with a rim that holds it where it belongs.
Automobile Phone Holder
A good phone holder for your automobile is really useful, especially with navigator apps. But finding a good phone holder for my car was not easy. There is the questionable attachment to the car. Suction cups inevitably fall off and mounting on the windshield blocks vision. Vent vane attachments block ventilation and heat the phone when the heater is running. Cup holder mounts use up a cup holder. And there is the questionable attachment to the phone as the holders need to work with many different phone sizes.
I bought one of the cup holder devices - my car has four front cup holders so it seemed reasonable. The cup holder attachment worked well. But the phone holder was hopeless.
I designed a simple drop-in box and added leather padding (I had sticky back leather from experiments with dance shoe soles. It's handy for other things too.) It's easy to drop the phone in and take it out, with or without the charging plug. It holds the phone securely as long as the car doesn't roll over. I can press the on/off, volume, and fingerprint controls easily (only the bottom third of the phone is inside the box). Of course it only works for a small range of phone sizes, but I can print a new one if I get a new phone.
I don't like having a watch on my wrist. And pocket watches are inexplicably large. But it's easy enough to take the band off of a wristwatch and keep it in your pocket. Except that digital watches have buttons that are easily accidentally pressed by stresses in pockets. I used a nice model of watch with recessed buttons for many years. But it is no longer available.
I found a nice digital watch and designed a holder for it that protects the buttons from accidental presses. It makes the watch larger than it should be, but it works well.