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Print your own 3D Printed Tape Dispenser

3D printing is capable of mass-producing all types of different products, but it is a distinct process, which means that you have to design for it because it's not the same as molding, machining, or any other type of process. What you have to do is consider how 3D printing works and then create the product that you want to make. If you do that, it allows you to create something completely unique and differentiated from anything that has ever been made before.

So, let's take a look at the tape dispenser below. A tape dispenser is a mundane type of item. It's very low-cost, common, and everyone interacts with it and understands what it is. If you look at a standard tape dispenser, you need something sharp on the front to cut the tape, and then you want some sort of weight so it sits on the table and is reliable. However, many tape dispensers made today are just unattractive—black, terrible, U-shaped, nasty things that don't enhance your workspace. But what if you could add some color, texture, and vibrance to something so mundane? 3D printing allows you to do this by creating a variety of interesting features.

3D printed tape dispenser, Mass Production 3D Printing

When we designed this, we started with a standard brick. Once we had the brick, we thought, "Okay, that's fine. We could turn that into a tape dispenser, and it would work fine." But we wanted that sharp edge on the front. So, to achieve that, we angled the tape dispenser this way. This resulted in a sharp edge at the front that you can then use to cut the tape. From a CAD perspective, this simplifies the operation because those serrated teeth are just a straight extrusion without any awkward angles, but they still fade off the edge and look cool. The angle itself also helps to give it proportion and, from an industrial design perspective, guides your eye to the point of action. It leads your eye to where the tape actually is. The overall shape follows standard 3D printing practices, with chamfers used in many places, especially for the outer edges, to eliminate any potential issues when mass-producing these items.

3D printing also allows us to produce this as a single unit.

3D printed tape dispenser, Mass Production 3D Printing

There's no assembly required. We can print this brick all at once, and it's completely finished, whereas traditional tape dispensers are typically produced in two halves stuck together with sand in between, and then you add the metal blade on the front. But with 3D printing, it's all done at once. We printed this 3D printed tape dispenser upside down on the print bed using a glass print bed to ensure sharp teeth for cutting tape, and the channels inside are printed seamlessly. We also used a higher infill, giving the part a premium feel due to its weight. Additionally, we added noise to the outer side and incorporated texture, which softens the appearance and hides layer lines. The thickness of the part is also noteworthy, as it can be achieved without waste or concerns about shrinkage, as would be the case with molding.

3D printed tape dispenser, Mass Production 3D Printing

The housing is interesting, but one of the most fascinating parts of this design is the roller itself. Round parts don't print well, so the round part had to be printed horizontally to ensure strength and reliability. We modeled the hub with two spokes and filleted all sharp edges. Additionally, we cropped off one side, giving it a single flat edge, which simplifies printing without affecting its function. We also designed supports into it, using pointed towers with an interface point of half a millimeter, ensuring perfect support removal and easy processing after printing.

3D printed tape dispenser, Mass Production 3D Printing

Designing for 3D printing involves following specific rules and utilizing various tricks to create something unique yet affordable, reliable, and mass-producible. It's a complex process, but when done correctly, it yields remarkable results.


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