3D Printing & Imaging Metalworking Workshop
Turn Your Dremel Tool into a Plastic Welder!

dremel

Several years ago, Make: contributor Matt Griffin and I were hanging out and he started enthusiastically telling me about a technique for friction welding plastic that he’d just discovered. He had learned about it in a video from the awesome Fran Blanche (she of Frantone guitar pedals fame). I still haven’t tried the technique myself with my Dremel tool, but it couldn’t be easier. You simple chuck some plastic rod into a rotary tool and the friction from the spinning plastic eventually melts it in contact with other plastic parts to form a decent welded bond. Fran’s original video shows you how it works.

”https://youtu.be/r0zpqhhcmp4″

And to see it in a real-world situation, here’s a guy repairing a 3D printed Makey the Robot using the technique.

”https://youtu.be/tnnN2sBmPLg”

Matt eventually wrote about friction welding in a great piece he did for Make: magazine on various 3D finishing and post-processing techniques. You can read that article here.

[Thanks to Dave Hrynkiw of Solarbotics for reminding me of this ingenious idea.]

12 thoughts on “Turn Your Dremel Tool into a Plastic Welder!

  1. I wonder how well it would work to modify the collet on an old electric drafting eraser. The drafting eraser has a hollow tube going up through the motor, so there would be no limitation on welding rod length. Just loosen the collet and feed more rod.

    1. I haven’t used one of those in a while, but my recollection is that they don’t have nearly enough rpm for spin-welding. That was back in the 70s, though, so my memory is not exactly current.
      Should work OK with a regular, full-power Dremel, though. Might try this myself.

  2. This is really clever but in practice I’ve found the bond created to be ugly and lacking strength. Better to use use abs glue or your printers extruder for gap filling purposes.

  3. A soldering iron or actual plastic welding iron works much much better. Takes some practice, but the results are amazing.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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