Archive for February 3rd, 2016

Knurled Metric Inserts

These seem like they ought to come in handy for fastening things to 3D printed objects:

Kurled Inserts - M2 M3 M5

Kurled Inserts – M2 M3 M5

The assorted screws come from the Small Can o’ Small Screwlike Things, all harvested from various dead bits of consumer electronics:

Kurled M3 Inserts

Kurled M3 Inserts

These would benefit from a heated staking tool that slides them into the hole parallel to the axis and flush with the surface. Such things are commercially available, of course, but for my simple needs something involving a cartridge heater, a wall wart, and a drill press may suffice.

It would be better if the inserts had actual knurls, rather than splines. So it goes.

For the record (thread x length x Knurl OD x Body OD):

  • M2 x 4 x 3.5 x 2.8
  • M2 x 6 x 3.5 x 2.7
  • M3 x 4 x 4.5 x 3.8
  • M3 x 8 x 5.0 x 3.9
  • M5 x 10 x 7.5 x 6.9

The actual measurements seem to vary within ±0.02 of nominal and I doubt the manufacturing consistency justifies any assumption tighter than ±0.1 mm.

The M3 inserts really do have two different ODs.

The M5 insert was listed as “7 mm OD” and measures 7.5 mm, which suggests a typo in the description.

The polygonal hole adjustment I use produces dead-on diameters for small vertical holes:

HoleWindage = 0.2;

module PolyCyl(Dia,Height,ForceSides=0) {	// based on nophead's polyholes
  Sides = (ForceSides != 0) ? ForceSides : (ceil(Dia) + 2);
  FixDia = Dia / cos(180/Sides);
  cylinder(d=(FixDia + HoleWindage),h=Height,$fn=Sides);

So an ordinary cylinder() with the nominal knurl OD or a PolyCyl() with the nominal body OD should suffice. Horizontal holes can probably use a plain old cylinder() with the nominal body OD, because they need reaming anyway.

Perhaps a dab of epoxy would bond better with the plastic around a nominal-size hole than forcing the insert into an undersized hole or heat-bonding the insert. Some experimentation is in order.

Ten bucks for the entire collection (five bags of 50 inserts each = 250 little brass doodads = 4¢ each), shipped free halfway around the planet, seemed reasonable, given that inch size knurled brass inserts run anywhere from 50¢ to upwards of $2 a pop and a Genuine Helicoil 4-40 insert sets you back just shy of a buck.

An Amazon vendor offers 4-40 inserts for $0.24 each in single quantities, but with $9.25 shipping. [le sigh]

Inch-size inserts with knurled rings intended for ultrasonic bonding seem to be 5¢ to 15¢ on eBay. I think the straight-side versions will work better than the tapered ones for heat or epoxy bonding.

It knurls my knuckles that we here in the US haven’t gone solidly metric. Yes, I have a goodly assortment of metric hardware in addition to the harvested fasteners shown above, but it definitely wasn’t cheap & readily available.


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