MatterHackers Design Lab - Watch Strap
Posted on May 4, 2015 by Tyler Anderson
When life hands you a problem, let 3D printing be your solution! The detailed story of how MatterHackers' print specialist, Tyler Anderson, redesigned and fixed an important piece on his faithful wristwatch.

Tyler Anderson, one of MatterHackers’ print specialists, didn’t cry over spilled milk, he embraced it. Like an old friend that’s always there, so is Anderson’s Casio SGW-100 watch.

“This watch is a part of my body. I pretty much never take it off,” Anderson said.

Anderson’s Casio SGW-100 Watch


One day, after seven years of wear, Anderson’s watch band snapped.

“The original resin strap simply wore out. It developed cracks from flexing and eventually snapped.”

Anderson didn’t want to purchase a new watch. Another option he had was to replace the broken strap with a fabric piece from Casio, however, a flaw he wasn’t fond of was if it were to ever get wet, it would take forever to dry. So he came up with a better solution- he was going to design and 3D print a new strap to his liking.

Anderson began by measuring the parts of the old strap with calipers and then sketched the critical dimensions, which include:

  • Length and width of strap
  • Detailed geometry of watch body engaging features
  • Spacing of latch holes

The sketch soon was digitized into CAD using Solidworks. The next decision to be made was determining which material was best suited for printing the strap.

Measuring watch band


Watch band sketches


The original strap had ridges that allowed for a little stretch, something Anderson still desired. Ninjaflex, having great tensile strength and being stretchy all on its own, served to be a perfect solution and would leave no need for the original ridges. The strap did gain some texture due to the blue tape it was printed on, however, Anderson says this small touch makes the band look as if it was never even 3D printed. To print the watch band Anderson used an Airwolf XL 3D Printer upgraded with an E3D v6 all-metal hot end. A direct drive extruder (as on the XL) was chosen over a bowden because printing flexible filament is easier.

Taking measurements


Watch band CAD design


Printing his watch strap came with another customization perk. Before, Anderson claimed that the holes on his watch were always off.

“I was able to make the buckle holes closer together. On the original watch, one was too tight and the other one was too loose. I got it just right.” Anderson said.

After the print was finished Anderson’s last piece to the puzzle was to assemble the watch again. The hardware from his old strap was still in good condition. There was a pin and clip that attached the strap to the actual watch and several parts for the buckle that connected to the other half of the band. Anderson removed the buckle off the old strap, assembled it onto the new one, and finished up his watch to return it to his wrist.

Anderson’s strap has lasted since he repaired it back in February. You see the final design and print your own watch strap here.

“The comfort level is the same as the original strap. I can’t really tell the difference. There also doesn’t seem to be any wear yet either. It’s awesome!” Anderson said.

Whether you are a rookie or an advanced user, Anderson’s story goes to show that 3D printing can be a solution to everyday  problems. When life throws you a problem, look to 3D printing for a soulution.

3D Printed watch strap detail


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