DIY Heat-Set Insert Press

In this article, we will walk you through how to build a simple Heat-Set Insert Press using an inexpensive drill press frame, a soldering iron, and a 3D printed adapter.

DIY Heat-Set Insert Press

Heat-Set Inserts

Installation Tips are commonly made from brass and have a threaded inner diameter, with a knurled exterior that is designed for heat setting into plastic. Adding these inserts to 3D printed or laser-cut plastic parts increases the reliability and durability of threaded connections compared to using plastic threads.

Heat-Set Inserts

These inserts can be inserted by hand, however, a press can make it much faster to install them during small production runs.

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Installation Tips

A soldering iron can be used to install the inserts, and using a tip that is specifically designed for installing these inserts works much better than using a standard soldering iron tip.

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Weller 40-Watt Iron

Assembling the Heat-Set Press

We chose to use an inexpensive drill press to provide the vertical action for the press instead of creating a completely custom design since it requires only a single 3D printed component, and will be a fairly robust solution that will live on our production floor.

An initial search on Amazon showed several different options for drill presses.

Drill Press Frames

We chose to use one of the "Green" drill presses. To hold the soldering iron within the Drill Press Frame, we designed a custom adapter that was 3D printed (STL available here).

3D Printed Solder Iron to Drill Press Adapter

This adapter converts the larger diameter of the drill press to a smaller one that will securely hold the Weller soldering iron in place.

To assemble the fixture, place the adapter around the soldering iron, and then insert the soldering iron and adapter into the drill press.

Assembled Press

And We're Done

The Heat-Set Insert Press is now ready to be used! We've been using it for several weeks to aid in the assembly of our DEV260 Development Test Fixtures and it has performed great!

Wide Heat-Set Insert Press

Parts List

Here is a summary of the parts that were used to create the press.

Total Project Cost: $80.39