Springs are elastic objects made of metals, most times, spring steel. A project that my team was working on needed a spring to create a compression and extension action.
Unfortunately, when a cylindrical part meant to be used with the spring was designed, it had dimensions larger than the standard spring sizes available. We had already begun printing the cylindrical part, so there was no going back (as we were using a high-end 3D printer). So we decided to print a spring!
The spring design was made using Rhino, as it has a simple function that can make helical shapes and make them into solid pipes. And, if you think about it, a spring, is actually a solid helix shaped pipe.
Printing a spring would mean taking into account for its flexibility. Using regular materials like PLA or ABS will make the spring rigid. So we used a non-standard material which was flexible and strong: Thermoplastic Polyurethane, commonly known as TPU. A completely solid infill print on TPU with support structure will make the spring looks like this when it has finished printing:
The only annoying thing about using this is the removal of the support material. Otherwise, the print comes out pretty good. It might look a bit messy, but it is good enough to be a low fidelity spring for rapid prototyping. The final prototype kind of reminds me of a slinky 🙂
The black one was a test and the transparent one was the improved version.
For the spring in action, check this video: