I both love and hate tape measurers. They’re so essential for fitting things perfectly into your life (until rendered obsolete by augmented reality) but, when retracted, they have the potential to snap your fingers and scare the dog. While Angry Monk’s 3D-printed tape measure does keep your fingers safe and your dog calm, that’s not the most exciting thing about it. The most exciting thing about this tape measure is that this dude totally 3D printed it!
After successfully 3D printing a set of artfully designed dial calipers in one single print, made up of nine individual parts, Angry Monk set out to create something even more elaborate. Though not all that fascinating, at first, he realized that to 3D print a tape measure would require some ingenuity and a far greater number of parts. Like his calipers, the tape measure was printed in a single job on an Objet Eden 3D printer. His ultimate design consisted of 114 parts, “52″ of tape links labeled every 1″ with graduations down to 1/8″, a lock for the tape, a belt clip, and a fold-out crank with free-spinning handle to reel the tape back in.”
Due to the way that the tape measure was designed, there is a bit of measurement error totaling about .5” in the total length of the tape, leading Angry Monk to say that the object is “more of a technology demonstrator than a functional tool.” Still, at about 4 feet long, Angry Monk’s 3D-printed tape measure is a pretty awesome technology demonstrator. With a bit of finesse in a redesign, I can imagine such an object, along with his calipers, as bringing 3D-printed tools a bit closer to reality, so that users in remote areas might have access to tools necessary for design, construction and engineering. The measure was printed on an Objet Eden, a high-end, industrial machine, rather than the FFF 3D printers that (extra)ordinary consumers can afford, but as water-soluble support materials are made more prevalent in consumer machines, it might be possible that such tools could be printed with desktop 3D printers. And when that happens, we’ll begin to see the 3D-printed fruits of Angry Monk’s labour really start to take off.
Watch Angry Monk talk about his tape measure below and head over to his blog to see other awesome projects, like a DIY telepresence robot and a Vertical Take-Off and Landing Ornithopter.