3D Printed Mini Desktop Tripod

3D Printed DIY Micro Mini Desktop Tripod Video

This is a very simple low-level micro tripod, which I made to hold a mini projector. The original tripods was made from injection moulded plastic apart from the 1/4″ threaded screw, and one of the legs broke off because the pivot mechanism was only a few mm thick. I decided to make a new one, using metal shelf pins to create the pivot for the legs. I CAD modelled the design and 3D Printed the parts with the first version only push fitting the two parts of the head sections together, thus popping apart when too much weight was added. The second version included through holes to secure parts together, but the legs were too short and projector became top heavy. I made subsequent versions with longer legs and protrusions on the legs to prevent them from being over extended when closed, which could damage the parts.

STL Files available here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:5324245

Bill Of Material:

ItemPart DescriptionTotal QuantityCategory
1Base Section13D Printed
2Hex Bolt, 1/4″ x 1/2″, Whitworth1Fixing & Fasteners
3Leg33D Printed
4Machine Screw, Socket Cap, M3x30mm3Fixing & Fasteners
5Nyloc Nuts, M33Fixing & Fasteners
6Shelf Pin, M5x16mm6Fixing & Fasteners
7Upper Section13D Printed


Video Script:

In this video, I’m going to present these 3D printed micro tripods, and to talk a little about how I designed and assembled them. These are those tripods I mentioned – which are made up of five 3D printed parts, and thirteen mechanical vitamins.

I really like that term mechanical vitamins – which I first heard referred to by the late and quite brilliant E3D pioneer Sanjay Mortimer. 3D Printing without mechanical vitamins, is like a prolonged diet of rabbit meat. In this project I’ve used three M3x30mm socket machine screws with the same number of nyloc nuts, a single 1/4″ by 1/2″ tripod mount hex bolts, and my current favourite vitamins – cupboard shelf pins of which I used 6.

The first version I printed doesn’t have any way of mechanically fixing the two parts of the head together, so when I open the legs apply pressure downwards, this happens. The legs act like leavers pulling the piece apart. I could have glued it, but I have an aversion to gluing – because it is often a part of designed obsolescence. Which means objects becomes a lot harder to fix or repair. Inside you can see where two prongs have broken – one inside the opposite marrying part.

I’m going to pop to the 3D model and talk about some minor changes I made to the following designs… which addressed these problems. Along with chamfering the top edge and adding a protrusion to the legs to prevent them being over extended when closed, I added a tiny chamfer to the bases here, and the inverse here. These tiny buttresses reinforce the parts – and so far, none have broken.

I’m now going to turn on the analysis mode so you can see the 3D model sliced in half with a little more detail. This wedge shape to the left limits the spread of the three legs, and it’s repeated all the way around.

I’m going to now show you how I setup the file to print – using the Prusa mini and Prusa Slicer. After importing all three part types, I arrange them using the place to face tool. I copied the leg part another two times, arrange all parts and then begin applying paint on support. First for the captive nuts on the upper section, and also under the arches for the pivot points for the base section. I found I didn’t need any more supports. After which I made sure to select the support option, For support enforcers only, and set the infill to rectilinear and at 20%. Then I slice and generated the gcode to print with.

I’ll just show the assembly process from start to finish now. This is for a medium sized version although without the leg prongs. The object looks like an early space satellite – and you could imagine it orbiting around the world, looking down at the stupidity and maliciousness on the earth’s surface.

I’m going to leave this video here – if you’d like to see the build instructions and access the STL files, please check out the link in the description below. As always, thanks again for watching and don’t forget to sacrifice a thumb to the algorithm gods.