I was an early adopter of the Pebble Smart watch. I love the simplicity of the design, that its battery life is amazing, and that I can have a PipBoy on my wrist. What I do not like is the fragile band. It feels great to wear, but after minimal daily use, it developed a crack which eventually turned into a tear.
If you know me, you know what happens next. I 3D printed a new band. What surprised me was how many options there were. At the time of this writing, I could choose from a hard plastic snap-link band, a swanky customizable snap-link, yet another snap-link for paracord, a thin slip-on bracelet that prints in one piece, and multiple soft bands. I chose to replace the entire band with a flexy model printed in NinjaFlex.
Lulzbot’s version of Cura makes printing in flexible materials pretty painless. First, you “Add a New Machine” – in my case, a Taz5 with modifications and specify the Hexagon hotend with the Flexystruder v2 toolhead. You’ll need to upload new firmware into the Taz5, but from there, you can use the built-in settings to print for NinjaFlex.
To print in NinjaFlex, you first need to prepare the bed with gluestick. For flexible filaments like TPU and TPE (Ninjaflex), gluestick is a release agent, rather than an adhesive. If you try this at home, I highly recommend it. The prints come off cleanly every time. Using “Normal” settings, the print took 90 minutes. Here’s what it looks like:
The straps reuse the hardware from the old band. You’ll need a thin knife blade to coax the spring-loaded pins from the old band. Be careful- it’s easy to cut your watch or hand in this process.
Move the pins to the new band and remove the clasp pin with the same thin blade. Everything transfers over to the new band. Within 2 hours of deciding I needed a new band, I had one! What’s great is that sites like Thingiverse, Pinshape, and YouMagine make it simple to share and find designs for almost anything you need. Now, all you need is a 3D printer at home….