3D Printing

3D Printing a Beach-Ready, Portable Metal Detector

Upping the ante of the 3D printed lawnmower and vacuum cleaner previously reported on 3DPI, Brazilian Maker Paulo Bubolz has 3D printed a complete metal detector. The entire body, pole, handle, and coil enclosure are entirely 3D printed, and Bubolz has successfully assembled and tested his working prototype.

3d printed metal detector

Bubolz started his project well over a month ago and has been posting regular updates on the project’s development and progress to his Facebook page. The metal detector’s handle went through three prototype designs before he settled on the final one, which incorporated several ergonomic enhancements to make it more comfortable to hold. He also used Simplify3D to optimize the printing position and design to allow for the highest level of resolution possible, without the need for support structures.

electronics enclosure 3d printed metal detector

According to Bubolz, the trickiest part of his project was the electronics and battery pack at the top of his design.  Experimenting withseveral test prints and design changes, he ended up 3D printing the enclosure in two parts that could be screwed together. This made the box easier to print and allowed for quicker access to the electronics. He also printed three knobs used to control the device, an arm brace, and made sure to model openings for a headphone jack and battery-charging cable.

The long pole or rod portion of the metal detector is actually made from four smaller pieces that can screw together and taken apart quickly. The entire device is meant to be easily transported, so all of the parts have been designed to be assembled and unassembled quickly.

3d printed metal detector

Bubolz doesn’t mention what 3D printer he is using; however, it looks like an older wood Protobot with a heated bed, allowing him to 3D print the entire device in blue and white ABS. While it tends to be more durable than PLA and ideal for a design of this type, ABS can also be trickier to print with. After some initial difficulties with cracks and fissures developing around many of the edges of the parts, he needed to redesign them with smoother, rounder edges that seemed to print cleaner.

metal treasure

After a successful test run in his livingroom, Bubolz took his metal detector to the beach for a field test. He brought along a gardening spade and a sand strainer that he designed and 3D printed himself. While he did manage to find a whole lot of junk, including screws, barbed wire, bolts, and countless nails, he also managed to find himself quite a few coins and even a ring. He didn’t earn back what he invested in the metal detector, but he at least earned enough for a cold drink.

coins found

This was only the first prototype of Bubolz’ metal detector and he says that he has a lot more work to do on the project, but it already seems to be coming along rather nicely. It doesn’t look like he’s posted any STL files or build plans online yet, but he might after he does some more testing. Until then, you can follow his prototyping and design progress over on Facebook.