Thursday, November 5, 2015

3D printing friction-hinges for the laptop prototype

I have been thinking for a while about what to use for hinges for the MEGA65 laptop prototype. The most important thing is that the hinges need to be friction hinges, like for all sensible laptops. A friction hinge is just a hinge that stays in the same position unless a certain amount of force is applied. For laptops, this means that the screen doesn't slump down under its own weight.  Laptops that have bad friction hinges are Not Fun At All To Use.  I don't want the MEGA65p prototype to be in that category, so I started looking for friction hinges.

First, I took apart an old mac book pro to see if the friction hinges were useful, but they are tiny, and their small size means that they realistically need a metal chasis to bolt to, in order to spread the forces. Not really an option for me.

Then I looked online at various commercial friction hinges, but they are about $60 a pair, and would take forever to get delivered.

So I searched for 3D-printable friction hinges and found a couple of different designs on  The one I ended up using is nice and simple, and just uses a rubber o-ring to provide the friction.  While the o-ring is likely to wear, it will be pretty easy to replace.

In the process, I also discovered that someone has made a passive digital(!!!) sundial. Yes, a sundial with a digital display, and that is still just a passive lump of stuff, even though it displays the time to the nearest twenty minutes in digital format inside the shadow of the gnomon (the normally pointy bit that makes the shadow on a sundial). I couldn't help myself, so I have one printing at the moment.

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