May 30th, 2020

3D Printing a replacement ball joint for phone holder vent mount

This thing has been driving me insane for the past several months. Don’t know where/when I got this phone holder, but the thickness/spring weight of the holder just feels right when I place the phone in it, and it holds the phone firm.

super shitty thin stamped grippy tongs that hold the vent


The problem, is the super shitty thin stamped grippy tongs that hold the vent. Over time, they have become loose and lost a lot of their grip. Recently, I purchased a “new to me” Volvo which has been an absolute thrill to tinker on/with. Turns out Volvos don’t come with an armada of cup-holders, leaving me in a situation of having to decide where to put my phone when it’s time for coffee.

The difference invent-slat thicknesses of new car vs old, has just brought this problem to a head. So I set out to 3D print my way into a better situation. I started by taking apart the old mount, and isolating the problem component. The ball end of a ball joint, and the stamped tongs. I measured the ball and neck using calipers and re-created it in Tinkercad.

I made the print with supports and it came out wonderfully. Big thanks to my Ender 3 Pro, which I have been nothing but impressed with thus far. So I printed this thing out, the ball fit, the collar fit and screwed, and everything was going swimmingly until….snap.

Turns out that printing this vertically setup critical weak points in the neck of the ball joint.

Critical weak point

Giving it some thought, I decided to not only get rid of the neck, which wasn’t really needed anyway, and also change the orientation of the print to horizontal, since the stresses would be working against the grain of the print.

The result has been amazing so far. I got lucky with the vent slats doing a tight fit on the first try, but more over, the ball joint and neck are very strong, and tight.



View on Thingiverse