Here’s a quick guide to making a 3D printed adapter to connect your power tools to your shop vac if they’re not naturally compatible.
For this example, I’ll be using my Ryobi planer and sander and my Festool shop vac hose, but these general instructions should work for any two tubes that are close to the same size as each other.
For this project, you will need:
- Digital calipers
- 3D printer, I’m using the Creality CR-10S Pro
- Filament (PLA ok, nylon preferred for durability)
- 3D design software, I’m using Tinkercad
- Paper sketchpad
You’ll need to take four measurements:
- the outside diameter of the tool’s dust outlet
- the outside diameter of the hose terminal
- the length of the tool’s dust outlet
- the length of the host terminal
Keep in mind that these openings are usually tapered to allow for a snug press fit, so the outside diameter measurement might not be the same along the length of the tube. I tried to take a measurement somewhere in between, and you’ll inevitably need to do a bit of experimenting with the tolerance to get a good fit.
Once you have your measurements, it can be helpful to make a paper sketch. This can help you remember which measurement is which when you get into the 3D design environment, and help you keep track of adjustments you make during prototyping.
Opening up a new Tinkercad file, you’ll create a cylinder to start. Match the height to the overall length of your coupler, then change the diameter to 2.2mm greater than your largest port measurement. Watch the video in the first step to see it take shape.
Next create a cylindrical hole, and set its dimensions to match that of your smaller tube. Increase the diameter by .2mm to allow it to fit over the tube. Create another cylinder atop the first one, with dimensions matching your larger tube. You can use the workplane tool to rest the second cylinder exactly atop the first.
Then select all three objects and use the align tool to line them up on the x and y axes.
Finally, group the objects to cut out the hole. You should end up with a single tube whose opening changes size inside.
All that’s left to do is export the STL and slice it. I used Cura, and set the print quality to low since this is a utilitarian tool and does not need to have a pristine surface finish.
The first version took about 35 minutes to print on my Creality CR-10S Pro.
If at first the result doesn’t fit, or is too flimsy, it’s easy to go back into your Tinkercad design and make changes.
Double click on a grouped object to drill down into the group. I adjusted the thickness of my adapters walls by enlarging the main cylinder to make the whole thing a little more sturdy, and made a minor adjustment to one of the inner cylinders to get a better fit.
The second a final version took about an hour and half to print. It fits great and feels pretty sturdy in PLA, although it would be more durable if printed something like nylon filament instead.