We had the silly idea to make a giant pin impression toy for our buddy, Mark Rober. Using some PVC sheets, 1,000 PEX tubes, and a week of 3d printing, we made a life-size pin wall that now lives at Crunch Labs!
1. Scaling Up Childhood Toys
This idea behind this project is to replicate the Pin Impression toys that everyone remembers. It’s a small rectangle with a billion little metal pins that you can smoosh your face into and leave an impression on the other side. We thought it would be cool to make it gigantic so you can walk right into it and make a life-size impression. Josh began by making a 3d model of the board to figure out just how many pins and holes we were going to make. We toned down the density and determined that we needed 1,081 pins to make this thing look cool.
2. Making 1,081 Pins
To make the 1,081 pins and holes, we also turned to CAD designing using Fusion 360. Josh figured out that the door-sized panel could be made out of laminated PVC sheets and thick insulation foam. This board could be placed on our big CNC and all those holes can be drilled by a robot. Having a CNC is amazing for repetitive, terrible jobs like this.
While the CNC cut the holes, I was cutting PEX plumbing tube into 6 inch pieces. The PEX tubing will act as the tiny metal pins in the original toy. The hollow tube is light weight and pretty inexpensive, so it is perfect for this silly project. The issue is that the tubing will fall out of the holy board when pressed, so we need some stopper caps.
PEX does have plugs that fit into the tubing, but it is the same diameter as the pipe, so it won’t hold it in the board. Josh modeled a new plug with a wider cap that will stop the pins from falling out. The whole team came together in a mass manufacturing effort to print over 2,000 of these caps (1 for each side plus extras). Using our array of resin 3d printers, we made our goal in about 5 days of non-stop printing.
3. Hinging It Off the Wall
The original toy has a sheet of acrylic on the front to make sure the pins don’t fall out everywhere. To reset the toy, you simple tip it down and gravity helps reset the pins. That idea won’t work for our life-sized toy, so we designed a better solution. Mark’s team suggested that the pin board hinge on the wall so you can use the wall to reset all of the pins.
Josh designed an hinge system, offset from the wall to rest the pins. To make sure the hinges survived a lot of abuse, he sent the tab-and-slot designed parts over to Send Cut Send and the 1/4″ steel pieces came back in a few days. I welded up the hinges and we attached them to the assembled board.
We assembled much of the board at our shop and then shipped it the 2,400 miles to Mark’s new Crunch Labs warehouse. Josh and I installed the hinges to the floor and the wall and hung the pin board in place. Mark’s team supplied us with accurate measurements of the location so we could model everything in CAD before we left. The install went according to plan and after we installed the plugs on both sides of the pins, it was ready for Mark.
Mark Rober and his team were so happy with the life-size Pin Impression Wall. They host kids and special guests in their warehouse, and he was happy to have an interactive toy for them to play with. This project seemed simple, but the size and the reliable action took a lot of work, but it is awesome. We had a blast at Mark Rober’s giant shop, we’ll have a Between The Builds video all about our silly time with Mark. Check it out too!
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- Dewalt 20v drill driver combo
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- 1 Micron bag
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- Resin: Prusa Tough Resin
- Elegoo Saturn
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- Washing/Curing Station: Elegoo Mercury Bundle
- Resin: Siraya Tech Fast
- MIG welder *
- Welding mask (auto darkening)
- Welding magnet
- Angle grinder *
- Cut off wheels
- Metal cutting bandsaw *