Living hinges in consumer products refer to the simple, flexible plastic part that connects two or more rigid sections in your design. They are affordable, minimalist and highly functional, making them the go-to solution in a wide array of commercial products. From shampoo bottles, to Airpod cases, watch and jewelry boxes, 3D printed living hinges are best suited for design verification before investing larger sums of money. Although injection molding is the preferred method for designing living hinges, when 3D printed, product designers can iterate cheaper and quicker to land the most functional parts. And while 3D printed parts do not boast of the same strength and durability of injection molded living hinges, this article will discuss the 5 key benefits for using 3D printing for living hinges in your part design.
Rapid prototyping Rapid prototyping is done to ensure that a product design is fail-proof before moving on to the more expensive manufacturing methods. This is why 3D printing and urethane casting are highly favored for product prototyping. 3D printed living hinges are typically employed for rapid prototyping where only few numbers of cycles are needed. Since the part is meant to be prototyped, one can still expect around 100 test cycles and flexes around the hinge before they give up. This should be more than enough to assess the functionality of that part during testing.
Cost As you can already imagine, 3D printed living hinges are relatively more affordable than injection molding solutions. This is because of their simplicity, lower material cost and production print times.
Appearance Compared to other hinge solutions, living hinges that are 3D printed will blend in seamlessly to the part. The aesthetic of these living hinges also deliver a non-obtrusive connection method that is simple and minimalist.
Reduced inventory 3D printed living hinges will be printed along with the part, eliminating the need for assembling secondary components to the part. Living hinges are connected firmly and manufactured exclusively as a one-off production forming part of the product design.
Durability Although 3D printed hinges cannot withstand the type of stress that are injection-molded or CNC-machined, living hinges manufactured this way are designed to be opened and closed repeatedly. They are therefore very durable, experiencing little wear and tear which results in a decent lifespan. Simple design guidelines
As simple as they may sound, making 3D printed design hinges requires some guidelines. Here are some simple living hinge best design rules:
Go for thin and flexible Divide long hinges Play round the part thickness; you will get the best results when your print resolution is at least half the hinge thickness. Print orientation can affect your hinge strength; ensure that your hinge direction lies perpendicular the horizonal build plane Choose plastic parts with flexibility and elongation
Firstpart 3D Printing Solutions Firstpart offers a wide range of 3D printing solutions for both personal, commercial and industrial uses. Choose from a variety of printing options, filaments and finishes to produce high-quality parts that are suitable as production parts, prototypes or end-use devices. By simply contacting us, we can print and ship your parts to you anywhere in the world.
We invite you to work with us and take advantage of our expertise in combining additive and subtractive manufacturing technologies for excellent product output. At Firstpart, we can help to optimize the performance of your design by including aesthetically pleasing and highly-functional 3D design models that ensures an improved overall part performance and combine the machining efficiency of CNC machines for attention-arresting outcomes.