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2016/12/09

3D Printing Fidgets

Recently fidgets have become popular for adults as well as children. Fidgets on the surface may seem like toys, but they are actually adaptive devices to help people focus and calm down in their everyday life.3D printing is full of printable fidgets, which are tools for people with ADHD or sensory processing disabilities (SPD) that they can use to discreetly release nervous energy. 

 

If you know someone who taps or clicks pens at their desk, they can benefit from a fidget.

Different prototype fidgets

 

3D-PT personally use a wide variety of different fidgets throughout the day  while he works, to help him through long shifts and loud customers.

3d printing is great because every person fidgets in a different way; with the ability to design quickly anyone can custom design and print a fidget for their individual needs and taste.

 

With this in mind, here are some ways in which you can design a fidget to meet your sensory needs.

 

 

Texture

textured edc fidget prototype printed in eSun bronze

 

With 3D printing you can embed different tactile patterns and textures into a print. From knobbed and knurled surface textures, to printing and Acetone smoothing an ABS print, many textures are possible with 3D printing. 

You can also print at a coarse resolution or fine resolution to vary the feel of the print.

Spiral bead fidget designed by author.

 

Having a fidget that you can spin and watch helps release a lot of nervous energy in your hand, and can provide the tactile feedback need to calm and focus yourself.

 

Material

 

The mass or heft of a print can be important. Most plastics will feel very light in the hand, which may not provide the tactile feedback needed for the person.

3D- PT recently received samples of eSUN PLA and Bronze PLA to test.

The bronze filament felt great, and looked like bronze wire on the spool. This is a far cry from the muddy brown of Colorfabb BronzeFill. It also had some serious heft compared to other composite filaments. Brass filament printed great, and when you print it into a filament, it adds some more mass and density to an otherwise lightweight print.

 

Orange eSUN PLA+

 

While there was some stringing in the bronze print, but it did print well at 225 C. The orange filament printed well, but the cream orange did lighten a bit through the print.

Other materials like flexible TPU  can also provide a squishy texture to your prints. TPU will also give you some safety if the person using them is prone to throwing objects.

 

Sound

 

 

It can be possible to have a fidget cube with clicking sounds. You can also add other items like washers or gears to make certain sounds.

sound fidget with quion added inside. The eSUN

was able to bridge this large gap of 40 mm without supports.

BFor one of my prototype fidgets I printed in eSUN brass, I printed it hollow so I could put some quoin in it. The result was a fidget that spun and sounded like a kids rain stick. The bronze filament was great for this, as it helped the fidget sound louder and crisper then the plastic of the other filament design.

 

Fidgets could be a tool to help concentration and relieve tension for children and adults. Companies can provide a 3D printer for their staff to use to design and print their own designs!.

 

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