Good day readers, in today’s post I would like to show you my new custom made mostly 3D Printed PCB vice.
I made this vice because I have always wanted to have a PCB vice in order to de-solder and solder components into circuit boards easily. Now that I am getting more into electronics, I knew a vice of this type would come extremely handy from time to time.
This vice has 8 different positions in which it can clamp PCB’s into, three vertical, three horizontal and, two diagonal. It uses a threaded rod and two knobs on either side in order to clamp the PCB down to one of the sides. After properly clamping a PCB on this vice, it is very hard for the PCB to slide around.
When designing this vice I had several requirements that this vice had to fulfill, these were:
- Easy to print
- Easy to source components for it
- Good clamping force
- Modular, flexible and easy to expand
- Sturdy and strong
- Use scrap items that I had around
If you would like to build one, here are the components that you will need:
- 1 x 1/4 in. x 12 in. Zinc Threaded Rod
- 4 x 1/4 in.-20 tpi Zinc-Plated Nylon Lock Nut
- 1 x 1/4 in. Zinc-Plated Coarse Threaded Hex Nut
- 8 x 8mm M3 Screws
- 8 x M3 Nuts
- 2 x 250mm 1515 Extrusions
- 1 x Left side
- 1 x Right side
- 1 x Middle clamp
- 2 x Knobs
3D Printed part’s 3D STL files here.
Note 1: I am very sorry for mixing up Imperial hardware with Metric hardware, but it is what I had in hand.
Note 2: I know that some of the parts, such as the 1515 extrusions might be hard to acquire for some of the mechanical parts, whether it is within the US or internationally. I am willing to make a secondary design that uses 1/4 threaded rods to fix the outer sides together, and 1/4 Zinc plated or Aluminum rods for the clamp to slide through. I will only do that if I see enough interest on it. It will basically function in the same manner but would be easier and cheaper to source.
Building the PCB Vice
The first step in this journey of building the vice is printing all the 3D Printed parts. Just download the file, slice them and send them off to the printer. I printed mines at 30% infill, 0.3 layer heights and 4 perimeters on each side.
These parts are easy to print and can be printing with minimal support. The only parts that require support are the left side, right side and middle clamp. This is just because of the hole for the nut, which ends up facing downwards when printing these parts.
Step 1: Feeding Nuts in Knobs
For this step we will be needing the two 3D printed knobs and two of the 1/4 in lock nuts.
Take your 1/4 in Lock Nut and press it into the hexagonal hole in the knob. This should not take too much force to be accomplished. If your printer is over-extruding, you might need to use some force to place them in.
Do to the other knob as well. Now you can set the knobs aside for later on. We won’t be using them until our last step.
Step 2: Feeding Nuts in Middle Clamp
This step is very similar to the previous step, but in this case we will be adding a regular (non-locking) nut to the middle clamp 3D Printed part. Of course, for this step we will be needing a single 1/4 in nut and the middle clamp.
Take your nut and press it on the hexagonal hole located at the back of the middle clamp part. This nut is the nut that will allow the middle clamp to move when we rotate the knobs. Set the middle part aside for later use.
Step 3: Attaching the Left Side
In this step, we will be fixing the extrusions to the left side of the clamp. For this step we will need the left side, the two1515 extrusions, four M3 nuts, and four M3 screws, 8mm long.
We will begin this step by first taking one of the 1515 extrusions and sliding it into one of the 15mm square holes. Make sure that the 1515 extrusion is all the way inside of the hole (or as far as it can go).
Now, from the other side of the extrusion you will slide in a M3 nut through the side of the 1515 extrusion which ends up facing the small holes on the left side. Slide the nut all the way in until it hits the plastic part, and you can see it through the small hole of the left side part.
Making sure that the nut is aligned with the hole, you can now slide one of the M3 screws through the hole. Then you can tighten the screw with a screw driver until you can’t screw it anymore. Make sure that the screw is tight or else the extrusion might be able to slide out.
Now, do the same process for other nut in the same extrusion. Now your first extrusion is securely fixed to the left side printed part. Do the same for the other 1515 extrusion in order to complete this step.
If you are not sure if your screws are tight enough, you can always try to pull on the extrusions and see if they slide out. If they do, that means that your screws were not tight enough (of course). Don’t worry about breaking the left side, it should be strong enough even at lower infill densities.
Step 4: Sliding in the Middle Clamp
For this step we will need the left side with the extrusions (which we assembled in the last step) and the middle clamp piece. This is the easiest step of this whole build, and you will see why soon enough.
Take your middle clamp part and slide it through the extrusions through the open square holes that it has. That’s basically it. Just make sure that the teeth in the middle clamp part are facing the ones on the left side. This will allow it to clamp the PCB boards along the channels across the teeth.
Step 5: Attaching the Right side
Now for the fifth step, we will need our previous assembly (Which contains the left side, extrusions and middle clamp), the right side, four M3 nuts, and four M3 screws. We will be basically closing the right side of the clamp.
We begin by first placing nuts on each side of the 1515 extrusions in which we placed nuts in step 3. Be sure to place the the four nuts in the extrusions before the next step. The closer you get them to be to the end of the extrusion the better.
Now slide the right side piece onto the extrusions. Be sure that your 1515 extrusion is all the way into the hole.
Now it’s time for us to put in the screws. Be sure that you can see the nuts through the hole first and then insert a screw and tighten it. If it is not threading on the nuts, you will end up feeling it because it will just spin around and around. Do this with the other three screws.
Congratulations, you have assembled the main frame of the clamp. Again, to be sure that your screws are not loose, you can always pull of the right side part in order to be sure that it is solid in place.
Step 6: Adding Threaded Rod and Knobs
We are almost there! Now for this sixth step we will need the knobs, two Lock Nuts, our threaded rod and our previously assembled frame.
First, insert the threaded rod through the hole until you reach the middle clamp part’s nut. From there you have to turn the threaded rod in order to thread the rod through the nut. Keep threading it until it reaches the other side of the left side printed part. Make sure that you have the same amount of rod in either side of the rod sticking out. In this overhanging part of the rod is where we are going to be placing our knobs.
Now, it is time to bring back our old friends, the knobs and lay them in their final resting place, the threaded rod. Take one of the knobs, place it on the threaded rod and spin it until it starts threading on the threaded rod. Be sure to not spin the threaded rod, just the knob. Do this for both sides, making sure that you end up with the same amount of rod overhanging on either side, this will be important for our next step.
Exciting isn’t it, we are almost done!
Step 7: Adding Locking Nut to the Back of the Knob
Almost there! For this final step you will need the two 1/4 in Lock Nuts. Start by threading one of them at the end of any side of the rod until it’s tight. You might need a wrench or pliers in order to fully tighten it, mostly because of the amount of resistance these type of nuts have. It will also be a good idea to hold the threaded rod while you tighten the nut.
And that’s pretty much it, you now have a modular, functional and sturdy PCB clamp! I hope this clamp helps you in the destruction, construction and display of electronics circuits as much as it has helped me!
I have to say, out of many of the things that I have designed, this is by far one of my favorite ones because of its simplicity and functionality.
This PCB vice has helped me a lot lately, mostly when it comes to the assembly of a lot of different electronic kits, including an oscilloscope and function generator which I will be talking about soon in two different posts, so stay tuned for that!
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Regarding 3D Models: I am okay with the sharing or distribution of these files, as long as give us credit for it. Feel free to modify them in any way you can. If you make any changes and you feel that more people will benefit from them, do not hesitate to email us (Contact information in the “Contact/Support” Tab) and we will link to your changes.