By providing tactile feedback and stimulation, fidgets can actually help some people focus on a task at hand. Thanks to 3D printing, it is now possible to quickly and affordably produce fidgets that meet the needs of each individual.
Any search of fidgets will give you a plethora of results. After looking through all of them, I found that they tend to fall under the following 10 patters.
I found that the spinning motion can provide great tactile feedback and give the user a moment to meditate and regain focus on task. The slight buzz of the bearings can also help in meditation and focus.
I found in 3D printing them you have to have a well calibrated printer. The bearings are supposed to be a friction fit, so if you’re not careful you can crack the print as you insert the bearings.
If you want to save money on bearings, you can substitute nuts, coins, large ball bearings, or marbles.
Chains are another surprising fidget that has been used as a fidget. Industrial plastic chains can be purchased at any local hardware store. 3D printable chains take this idea to the next step. One of Makerbots test pieces, the print in place chain, is actually a great fidget. At 5 links long, it can be scaled up to fit into the palm of anyone’s hand. The multiple degrees of freedom and flexibility give chain a lot of fidgeting potential.
Other chains expand on this by providing textured surfaces.
You will have to check with your school to see if you can bring fidget chains to school, as they may be considered weapons.
Gyroscopic or gyro fidgets are a 3D printing torture test that has quickly become a great fidget. The gyro prints all the concentric rings in place like the center of an onion, and when its removed from the build plate all the rings are held in place by their nesting shape.
Gyros rotate and spin, providing lots of ways to release tension. By adding a key loop, you can always have a gyro on hand.
Geared fidgets give you strong tactile feedback with the gear teeth. The also visually are hypnotizing as you spin them around. The geared cubes are a popular 3D printing pattern, and they function well as a fidget. Other geared fidgets are popular as key chains.
Other versions can be printed in place with ridge plastics, and are fun to fidget with at your desk.
Print in Place Ball Bearings
Print in place ball bearings are another torture test for 3D printers. They are a popular way to print with dual extruders and also for printing with dissolved PVA filaments. You can expand your modeling skills by adding other textures to the outer ring of the bearing, or other patterns to make a variation of the spinner bearings.
We have all seen someone play with the rings on their fingers. Silversmiths have long made rings with a separate spinning section as a trade item. With 3D printing it is a great way to make a custom ring that you can fidget with discretely at any time.
Folding cubes can be printed in place or assembled. Having done both, the assembled ones tend to be more brittle than the printed in place patterns.
These cubes are great for developing hand dexterity, and are a great way to challenge your 3d printing skills. You can change the visual pattern of the pieces by changing the orientation and color of filament as you print.
No list of fidgets would be complete without the Kickstarter favorite Fidget Cube. The originals were prototype and 3D printed. These cubes provide 6 sides of fidgeting, with buttons, wheels, textures and switches.
If you don’t feel like buying the brand name one, you can have fun printing in TPU and test your assembly skills by printing your own variation.