If you have the desire to print standard hardware, but lack the motivation to reverse engineer the parts yourself, I have some good news for you.
McMaster Carr’s online catalog is well organized, has an overwhelming selection, and as it turns out, is a fantastic resource for standard hardware CAD Designs. A good portion of the standard hardware have downloadable CAD files within the product detail page.
Getting Started with McMaster Carr 3D Printable Files
Head over to www.mcmaster.com and search for a part that you are interested in 3D printing, be sure it has a downloadable CAD file in the product detail page.
Hint, look for this symbol:
Download your preferred McMaster Carr CAD file type. If you are a Solidworks user, download the 3D Solidworks file directly. If you do not have a preferred file type – that’s okay, we will get you through it, keep reading.
Converting McMaster Carr CAD files to STL format:
There are a few options, but here is the one we have found to be the most robust.
- Download the 3D STEP CAD file type from the Product Detail page.
- Start/Install the program FreeCAD (available here: http://www.freecadweb.org/).
- Open the 3D STEP file.
- Select the part (make sure it turns green) and go to the File menu and choose Export. Save as ‘Mesh Formats’ from the drop-down menu. Save this file to a local drive; it will be saved as “FileName.STL”.
3D Print Your McMaster Carr Parts
Now that you have an STL file you are ready to create the part using your 3D Printer. Load the STL file into MatterControl, scale to your heart’s desire and print away. Feel free to experiment with various filaments and colors.
When printing close tolerance parts, scale up (for male fittings) or down (for female fittings) by 2%-5% to ensure fit. This may very from 3d printer to 3d printer dependingon calibration
Thread printing quality is limited by thread angle – it can be good to double the thread pitch by scaling your part 2X along the axis (non-uniform scaling).
Experiment with layer heights and infills to get the print that meets your needs
- To get a head start, go ahead and download the demonstration Big Bolt here.
McMaster-Carr is Awesome:
While you are on the McMaster Carr webpage feel free to order from their abundant hardware selection and enjoy speedy delivery. Here at MatterHackers HQ, if we order something by 11am, the Engineers usually have it on our desk by 2PM that same day, truly AMAZING. We have no affiliation to the company, other than we are loyal customers.
If you are designing a part, lets say a block with a functional threaded hole in the side, don’t waste your time cutting the helical thread into the block. Download the correct size bolt from McMaster Carr’s online catalog and subtract it from the block – BOOM – functional threaded hole. Sometimes to compensate for 3D Printing tolerances I scale up by 2%-5% before subtracting.