3D printed dummy headsets
For years, I struggled to find a system that allowed me to store finished bike framesets around my shop without the forks clanging around in the headtubes. Finally, I decided to make my own dummy headset. A few months ago I modeled a dummy headset to be 3D printed. I've refined the design a bit and tried it out myself, and I really like the results. As a custom framebuilder and guy-who-owns-a-few-framesets, I've used dummy headsets a *lot* during my career, but making them was always a PITA - 3D printing solves this nicely, and the end result would be useful to any bike shop.
I've put the assembly up for sale on Shapeways, and I'd love it if you all would buy a set and let me know what you think. I'd eventually like to get these mass produced in nylon or aluminum, but for now 3D printing is way more economical. The set is about $35, which should be worth it for most of you no matter *how* quick you are with a lathe
The headset is two parts. The top half has two 3.3mm holes "drilled" in it; they need to be tapped M4 in order to make the assembly really work well. I would recommend using brass tipped set screws for aluminum or steel steerers, and nylon tipped set screws for carbon fiber. You can also experiment with thumb screws or plain old socket cap screws if you like.
A note about how Shapeways works: I designed these parts and Shapeways 3D prints (SLA) them and ships them directly to you. All payment, order tracking, etc happens through them, and I never see the physical parts at all. They usually ship within two weeks.
If you're in the market for a dummy headset, please try mine out and let me know what you think. I suspect that it'll be useful for a lot of home mechanics, framebuilders and shops.
trek frames come with dummy headset cone things. keeps the fork from rattling around
I like the idea a lot, but that's just too much money IMO. If I were to spend $35 for a fake headset, I'd rather just spend $50 for a Cane Creek 40 headset and press it in so that's one less step to do when building my frame back up. I see it being much more useful for a shop or framebuilder, as they can re-use them on new/different framesets, but I still think the price is too steep. If I had to display just 10 frames in my shop I wouldn't be dishing out $350 in fake headsets to do so...I'd be all over this if it were $10 or $15. That's just my 2 cents.
*edit* I have no clue what it would cost to make something like this, but I'd imagine it's not much. 3D printers are becoming more and more popular for the average person now, so I think it may become harder to sell at that price. Would you get any sort of bulk discount if you had a couple hundred made in advance and worked on selling them yourself?
Let me propose an alternate approach: make a simpler shape, maybe just two conical rubber washers. Get 100 sets or so. I bet you see volume discounts start to really kick in. I'd design it to fit snugly around a 1-1/8" steer tube and fill the ID of a head tube for an integrated headset, with enough stretch to go around a 1.5 without undue drama. I bet there's a soft enough rubber to do that.
"Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx
Piece of thick inner tube over the steerer tube maybe?
Thanks for the feedback, all!
@reptilezs - Yeah, I've seen those and similar ones - but as a framebuilder, I just don't buy many Trek frames
@sasquatch - I totally agree that I'd rather it be cheaper, but I just don't have the $XXXX to buy an injection mold and do a larger run of these. Shapeways' prices aren't the best, but posting it there made it so that I didn't have to sink a bunch of capital into the project. It would definitely be cheap to make your own if you owned a MakerBot, but I'm guessing most bike shops & framebuilders don't, so I chose the best option available. I could probably buy them in bigger batches (still from Shapeways or from a prototyping job shop) and ship them myself for a lower price, but honestly I'd rather not deal with UPS/Fedex and all those boxes. Shapeways is really good about that, and they make buying stuff *so* easy for anyone who wants one.
Also re: Cane Creek, I totally agree! My problem was often that I didn't know what headset the customer was going to use, and I didn't want to have to remove install one and then remove it later. Plus pressing a headset in is kind of a PITA, and this dummy just slides together and has a couple of set screws. But that's a good point, and if it works for you then great!
@AndrwSwitch - I feel you on the alternate materials - I'm sure a lot of shops would find that useful! I'll look into it - there are a few rubbers that can be printed, and one of them might work! Again though I'm unlikely to buy a big batch of these - I just don't have the thousands of dollars it would cost to have a rubber transfer mold made
@Birdman - Yeah, I've seen that kind of thing a lot - zipties, etc. It totally works for a lot of applications, but I hate to see a high end steel frameset with an inner tube holding it together. Plus I often need something a lot more precise, for instance when building custom racks. In those cases, you really need the fork to be held at exactly the same height as it will be as built up - otherwise the rack ends up not being level to the ground, which sucks!
Spencer - all good points. You mentioned you didn't want the forks "clanging around" initially (hence me suggesting a rubber sleeve), but if it's temporary precise positioning you want, machined Delrin inserts will get you there. Super easy to produce on a manual lathe, and you could crank out a few dozen in no time. No molding needed. You could even start with thick wall plastic tubing (1 1/8" ID) and only have to machine the outer profile.
You can also cast plastic and rubber parts using 3D printed molds. Injection molding is not always needed. Best of luck.
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