Threaded Fasteners With SketchUp

October 10, 2016 | ProgressTH Creating threading for connecting 3D printed components can be challenging in SketchUp. For the needle disposal system we created for a local hospital, we created the threads using SketchUp's built-in Follow Me tool. However, this is time consuming and inaccurate.

Thankfully, someone created a plug-in for SketchUp called EP Fasteners & Threaded Holes. You can install it directly into SketchUp using Window > Extension Warehouse, or by downloading it through your Internet browser and then installing it manually in SketchUp using Window > Preferences > Extensions > Install Extensions, then navigating to where you downloaded it.

The plug-in creates metric and SAE bolts and threaded holes. For metric, it produces threading from M1 (1 mm) to M30 (30 mm).

Through experimentation we've learned a few things. For one, take special care to make sure your holes and bolts are the same sort of threading (i.e. coarse, fine, or extra fine).

Also, it is important to take 3D printer tolerances into account.

This autoinjector prototype was designed in SketchUp and started out as M30 bolts and holes created using the EP plug-in.
We usually offset any part that must fit into another by 0.3mm. To do this with the threading, you must scale down the x and y axis by 0.96. If you forget to do this and just print out the threading as is, it will not fit together. If you make the mistake by scaling the entire part down (including the z axis) by 0.96 it will also not fit (the threading will not only be smaller, but closer together and will not fit).
NOTE: To scale the bolts created by the plug-in, you must explode them and then recreate them as a component (G + enter). Once you scale your bolts and holes, you can enter the component and start customizing it into whatever you are trying to design it as. 
We've managed to get this to work pretty well with the x/y 0.96 reduction, as demonstrated with our concept prototype auotinjector.

Reliable threading in SketchUp through easy-to-use plug-ins like EP Fasteners & Threaded Holes opens up a lot of possibilities for industrial designing and prototyping, particularly in regards to handheld devices ranging from medical items to flashlights.

What will you design and 3D print now that you can do threading easily?

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