I’ve made several upgrades to my trusty Taig CNC mill over the years, but one of the best was replacing the original headstock with an ER16 headstock. This upgrade has thankfully become standard on the Taig machines, as the original proprietary collets were pretty lousy (and only allowed tool shanks of 5/16″ diameter, versus the far more versatile 3/8″ offered by ER16 collets). I quickly became enamored with the ER16 collets and now have a pair of 3/4″ shank collet holders for the Tree mill, one of which permanently holds an edge finder (this serves as a much more affordable alternative to an actual 3/4″ shank edge finder).
As my collection of ER16 collets grows (and I haven’t even started acquiring any metric sizes), I found that my storage method (consisting of keeping them on whatever relatively horizontal surface is available – oddly enough, also my storage method for everything else) was rather lacking. Dropping a precision ground object on a concrete floor is seldom beneficial, so I looked for a better system. While storage caddies for R8 and 5C collets are readily available (and I have a 5C collet organizer that is immensely helpful – when I remember to return the collets to it, that is), I’ve found no comparable options for the diminutive ER16 collet. [edit – Naturally, after completing this project and post, I managed to find just such a thing.]
Of course, the obvious solution is to make something myself. A simple tray with appropriately sized holes would be functional enough, but I wanted something with just a little more elegance. While some of my most treasured tools have wooden cases, I have no problems with a good plastic case (and have on at least one occasion purchased a really crummy tool for no other purpose than for the halfway decent plastic case that it comes in). So I whipped up a box in SolidWorks that could contain 15 ER16 collets with a matching lid. I added some bumps around the outside edge between the halves to key them together so the lid would stay in place, and then sent it off to the printer. The result was the box mentioned in this post from a few months ago. It wasn’t a great quality print as mentioned in the post, and I had incorrectly estimated the sizing of the cutouts for the collets which left them sticking up too far to let the lid close fully.
I gave it another try with a fixed model in Insight with the black Bolson ABS material, and things fared much better. The interface between the support and model material wasn’t great, but I quickly discovered part of the problem:
The lid (upper right) has a darker triangular patch on the bottom left corner. This is because no material was deposited there on the first model layer – there was so much ooze from the model material that a good deal of it flowed out during the lengthy build of the support layers. As the machine was trying to print the perimeters of the first layer and the start of the infill on the lid, no material was coming out since the liquifier wasn’t full. Thankfully, this can actually be accounted for in Insight, as you can instruct the printer to purge material for longer than normal in order to top off the liquifier – I’ll need to remember to do this on builds with lots of base layer surface area.
No matter – collets fit this version just fine, and I’m not terribly concerned about aesthetics on something that’s going to get knocked around in the garage.
My original plan was to build hinges into the model – I wanted to have lugs coming off the back of the base and lid with circular recesses into which small disc magnets would be glued. The magnets would attract each other and act as a hinge axis while hopefully providing enough friction to keep the lid open even when at an angle. I’d still like to explore that concept in the future, but to finish this project in a hurry I simply used a pair of small hinges from Lowe’s. I now have all my collets in one place next to the Taig in easy reach, and was pleased enough with how it turned out that I uploaded the design to Thingiverse. Much to my delight, it was chosen as a featured item!