53 was gracious enough to let me use their Stratasys PolyJet machine to prototype a connector idea I had a few years ago. The concept was to design a connector for use in active wear (think snowboarding, hiking, cycling, etc) to enable wearable electronics designed for sport. I wanted a connector for distributing power to various wearables because I was frustrated with the proliferation of batteries I was carrying around all needing to be independently charged. Body Bus would distribute electricity throughout an outfit allowing devices to share power and batteries. The connector I prototyped is genderless and self-mating through the use of rare-earth magnets. Once the two flat screws are pulled into each other the knuckles of the threads lock in and mechanically hold the connector together until they are twisted apart. The intent was to automatically establish electrical connections between different articles of clothing like socks and boots, boots and pants, pants and jackets, etc just by putting them on even if there was some dirt, water, or snow caught up in the connection.
Sadly, this concept never left the mechanical design exploration you see here. The electrical details are therefore vague. One concept was to simply use these connectors with inductive power transfer to allow them to be completely sealed. Another thought was to enable USB and USB-on-the-go connections through pads and spring loaded knobs inside each of the four mating threads (this would make each connection quadruple redundant).
Another part of this project that was fun was playing with onshape. I actually did most of the 3d-modelling while on the bus to work using my iPad. Onshape is very much the future we were promised (sans-jetpacks). I highly recommend this tool for anyone wanting to design 3D parts.
One final note on size: the larger part you see in the video and some of the photos was actually an up-sized version to account for the limited accuracy of 3d printed plastic parts. The intended size of a real connector is shown in one photo with a µSD card for reference. Turned out that the Stratasys printer did the 1:1 part just fine and that prototype works just as well as the 2:1 version. This experiance made me a huge fan of PolyJet printing.