3D Printed Clone Part Designs

Design Futuristic 3DP ‘Clone’ Parts to Replace Items Being Made with Current Fabrication Methods

SolidWorks Rendering of an Adjustable Aluminum Vise

I get asked by engineers & designers how they can improve their abilities …
Yet, what I hear them really saying is – How Can They Stand Out?

( Click on any of the images in the post to see a Larger View )

Encouragement Return Note about Designing Clone 3D-Printed Parts

For years I have been telling Designers the same advice:

“I design ALL my parts 2 ways ~ one for today’s normal fabricating methods CNC lathes, Milling Machines … and then I ALSO design a 2nd 3DP ‘clone part’ that does the same thing, but I design it how it will be 3D-Printed in the future

Remember 3D-Printed parts do NOT need to have draft angles like injection molded parts or Tool entrance paths like CNC machined parts; therefore, you can design parts completely based off how the part will be used, instead of how they will be made …

Hence, parts are much more efficiently designed because there is fewer fabrication limitations and more design is based on part’s use instead of fabrication methods 🙂

Soon there will be much better metal 3D-Printers make Aluminum & Stainless Steel parts, I’ve seen the prototype 3D-Printers and they are amazing!!”

That is a direct quote from one of my Encouragement responses.

Download the Full-Text PDF at this Online Site

Carlos E. Perez wrote a great articles called :
The Alien Style of Deep Learning Generative Design

3D-Printed Parts Created with A.I. can look almost Alien Organic

In the future, Design Engineers will not draw the actual parts; instead, they will input the Specs needed for Strength, material, and the connection points … Then allow Artificial Intelligence CAD design the part.

Once the part is completed and tested… then the engineer will tell their A.I. engineering CAD 3D-Modeling Software to design all the other parts that are connected to the first 3DP Part.

Parts with the Same or Greater Strength but Significantly less Weight


A nice option for A.I. driven Engineering Software will be for the final 3D-Model design to be presented in 10 to 50 different options that ALL have basically the same Strength & Connection Point Options
Then a human will review the 50 Photo-Realistic CAD Renderings of the different visual options to find the one that will be the most visually pleasing for humans. ( Better visual appeal means better sales )

Companies will have to slowly introduce A.I. designs to the public because some designs by Artificial Intelligence will be too strange for humans to accept …

Another Example from Carlos E. Perez’s Article


I have been following the work of a gentleman by the name of Christoph Laimer for a while, and was excited to see his most recent project a 600 Watt, 3D-Printed, Halbach Array, Brushless DC Motor .

Christoph Laimer’s 3D Printed Brushless DC Motor

Christoph explains his designs better than I could; therefore, I invite you to watch his YouTube videos if you would like more information.

YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheTrueGoofy/videos

Click on Image for Link to Christoph Laimer’s YouTube Channel

Christoph is on the correct path! ~ He is taking common existing items and redesigning them to be manufactured with 3D Printed parts.

His designs are very complex, exciting, detailed, and might seem intimidating to an individual wishing to start the process of redesigning existing parts into 3D Printed parts … but no worries 🙂

If that is the case, I would suggest looking around for easier examples of existing items and start with more simplistic parts to redesign for a future 3D Printing manufacturing process.

Don’t worry about materials or fabrication ~ Design for the item’s USE.

I Have this Vise and it Works Great but Also Made My Own 3DP Vise

Take a field trip to your local store and see what you find …

Pick up items … hold them in your hands … turn them around … test how they function … and then visualize how that specific item could be made differently if there where no fabrication limitations on how it is fabricated.

Future 3D-Printing might be the one case whereby new designers (that don’t understand current fabrication methods) might actually be at an advantage because they haven’t already been subjected to designing based off the limitations of the tools it takes to make items.

Aluminum Vise made with 3Dp Shapes for Metal Casting

Aluminum Vise Created with 3D-Printed Split-Patterns

The CAD & .STL Pattern Files for the Aluminum Vise are on GrabCAD:

SolidWorks CAD Files & 3D-Printing .STL Files Uploaded to GrabCAD

A while back – I collaborated with David in Oklahoma (SuperDave) to create several different projects using 3D-Printed shapes to be pressed into sand to create hollow molds to pour in molten Aluminum to create castings.

Aluminum Cast Drill Press Knobs

3DP Metal Casting Shapes Used to Create Sand Mold Patterns

I made the 3D-Printed Patterns, and SuperDave Cast the Aluminum …

Aluminum Vise Castings Before Machining

After all the effort to cast the Aluminum … I still had to machine it 🤔

Machining the Aluminum Vise made from 3D Printed Metal Casting Patterns

While it was interesting using a 3D-Printer to create 3DP ‘Sand Mold’ pattern shapes for casting metal ~  The Next Step is to 3D-Print the entire Vise 😜

Just for the fun of it, I decided to redesign a little workshop vise so it can be completely 3D-Printed out of different materials in the future.

Video of a SolidWorks Concept a 3D-Printed Turret Vise

Will show what I came up with for a 3DP Vise in a future Post.  ⚙️

UPDATE: 3D-Printed ‘Soft-Touch’ Vise/Fixture

3D-Printed Vise/Fixture with Dovetail & Threaded Rod Connection

3D Printing will continue to be a Disruptive Innovation.

I enjoy welding and creating parts with my Milling Machine & Metal Lathe as much as any fabricator, but also understand Additives Manufacturing is the future and it will end many machinist’s jobs.  3DP is (and will continue to be) a Disruptive Innovation as outline in an article by Jaclyn Diaz:

Machinists Prepare for Invasion of 3D Printers

Of course, there is going to be issues with Patents and Labor Organizations; yet, other countries like China are not going to slow down, and will continue to move forward with 3DP Manufacturing.

We (Designers) need to let others workout the legal details, while at the same time we continue to prepare for a future dominated by 3DP Manufacturing.

3D-Printing ‘Disruptive Innovation’ Bloomberg Law Article by Jaclyn Diaz

The legal mess will be sorted out while 3D Printing technological advancements continue … and if there isn’t a current 3DP method yet of producing your parts out of a specific material – There most certainly will be in the near future.

Nothing stops you from designing items now — Once the 3D-Printing technology is available, then your (or your company’s) 3D-Printed part designs will be ready to be manufactured.

3DP Titanium Guitar Design Concept

I have a 3D Printed Hollow-Core Titanium Electric Guitar design I’ve been working on which I will present in a future post … but what caught my attention in the photo above was I am still not letting my creativity go wild … because I am designing a 3D-Printed Guitar around existing injection molded plastic guitar pickup and other non-3DP parts!?

The Pickup Slides to Different Positions with the Press of Your Finger

So I am scrapping the current 3DP Guitar design, and starting over by designing 3D-Printed guitar pickups as-well-as 3DP switches, connections, and wiring.

Start Designing Now for Future 3D-Printing Manufacturing

Here are a Few Other ‘Future’ 3D-Printing Concepts to Think About :

Currently items are designed based off what can be machined; therefore, design is driven by tool paths and available fabrication materials.  Yet, with 3D Printed items one doesn’t have to worry about draft angles or tool paths, in fact there may be hidden areas inside 3DP parts that human eyes will never see.

With Additives Manufacturing, one has more flexibility to design based on how the part will be used, not based on what tools it takes to make that part.


Once 3DP items can withstand at least 5000 psi fluid pressure, 3D-Printing will completely disrupt the Hydraulics industry. Valves & Manifolds will be re-designed to be part of the equipment’s structure.

For example, hydraulic manifolds & valves can be elongated and curved to follow the shape of equipment’s framework — Future transmissions can be built inside a vehicle’s structural parts whereby the fluid cavities are optimized for flow instead of how they can be machined using today’s tooling … Hydraulic equipment designs will become almost organic in shape and hidden as part of the structure, reducing weight and the need for many hydraulic lines and connections that reduce efficiency.


By definition injection molding causes the designer to create parts for the injection molding process first [How to get it out of a mold] and only then can the part be designed as the best possible ‘molded part’ to do the job.

Draft Angles are Not an issue with 3DP ~ Just draw what you need — Draw any unusual shape and then press print and you have a plastic part specifically designed for its use instead of designed based on how it can be produced.

Instead of spending the money upfront to machine molds, future manufacturing will be ‘On-Demand’ or what I like to call ‘Super-Lean’ … Not only do you not make a part until you need it, you have the ablity to change the design of that part within seconds of it being made.

No more need to make hundreds or thousands of an exact part to justify the cost of making the injection mold — Parts can be designed/made on-demand while Additives Manufacturing speed technology will  increase.


Many of the musical instruments we use today were designed centuries ago and naturally they used the materials and tools of those times.

Already new musical instruments are being developed using 3D-Printing, but most are still following the old ‘wooden’ and ‘brass’ designs.

Just like the how the first vehicles looked like wagons, it will take time for the old ‘buggy-whip’ design mindset to change into completely original musical instrument concepts.

3D-Printed ‘3Dvarius’ Electric Violin Design

Changing the Way We Think About Design

At first it is hard to design based solely off the’usage‘ of the part. We are so established designing based off what it will take to ‘make the part‘ that sometimes even when not limited anymore we still hesitate.

Just Pretend ~ Pretend there is a way to 3D-Print a Titanium item that can hold 10,000 psi fluid pressure… Then start drawing … don’t worry about tool paths, don’t worry about visual access, don’t worry about current material strengths, or complex shapes, or expense… Just design like you are writing a Science Fiction novel … Because the future is closer than you think.

On day you will wake up and there will be a 3D-Printer making 10,000 psi Titanium parts … and you will have a bank of designs ready to go… I do 🙂

Design Challenges

I would like to see more companies feature GrabCAD Challenges asking the GrabCAD Community to help them re-design their current parts into new designs that will be able to be 3D-Printed in the future.

Click Image for Link to the GrabCAD Challenge Site

I’m going to take my own advice and continue to create ‘Futuristic’ 3D-Printing Concepts for the future … and Please share your future 3D-Printing concepts, I would enjoy to hear them.

CHEERS!! ~ CHARLES MARLIN (@MetalDesigner)


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1 Comment

Filed under 3D-Printing, BRAINSTORMING, CONCEPTS, SolidWorks CAD Rendering, THOUGHTS

One response to “3D Printed Clone Part Designs

  1. Pingback: 3D Printed Turret Vise | CTM Projects

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