Category Archives: BRAINSTORMING

Brainstorming — Possible ideas that might turn into future CONCEPTS … Just talking through ideas to see what comes out of the brain. Some may never go past the brainstorming phase but other ideas might develop into the CONCEPT phase. For me it is helpful to be able to look back and see what I was thinking in past brainstorming sessions…

3D Printed Chocolate Candy Molds

SolidWorks CAD Example of a SafeKids Chocolate Mold Shape

Just for fun several years ago, I showed Carma ( The Coordinator for SafeKids in Grand Forks, North Dakota ) how I could use their 2-Dimensional Logo and turn it into a 3D CAD model that could be 3D-Printed.

The SafeKids 2-D Logo I Turned into a 3-Dimensional Logo for 3D-Printing

Today, I am waiting on some parts to be delivered and decided to use the time to work on some 3D-Printed Chocolate Mold shapes for some friends of mine.

Randi and Carma’s wonderful daughter is getting married to about the coolest guy you’ll ever meet, and they asked if I could take some of their wedding designs and make them into 3-Dimensional CAD models that could be 3D-printed into shapes to make flexible food-grade silicon rubber chocolate molds.

Windsor and Matt the Groom to Be

The wedding chocolate designs are super secret until the wedding, but I thought this would be a good time to show the Chocolate Designs we made for the SafeKids Grand Forks 25th Anniversary Charity Event.

3D-Printed Candy Mold Designs I Made Years Ago

In a previous post, many years ago, I mentioned using 3D-Printing to make Candy molds:  ( Click Link to View Post )
3D-Printing & Plastic Part Molds – July 2013

3D-Printed Candy & Chocolate Silicone Rubber Mold Ideas

There is a helpful website if you wish to learn more about making Silicon Molds:

One of the Many Websites that Show How to Make Silicon Molds

2-Dimensional SafeKids Logo Designed by Correen for the 25th Year Event

Last year Carma (Mother of the Bride) asked if I would convert a 2-Dimensional SafeKids logo designed by Graphics Designer Correen into a CAD file for making 3D-Printed shapes to use for making chocolate molds for a charity event.

We also made chocolates for some of the event’s sponsors …

Several Different SafeKids SolidWorks Concept Chocolate Design Options

I sent several designs to Carma to review and she decided on the final design.

We Did the Entire Design Project 1600 Miles Between Locations

The process of making 3DP shapes for Candy molds is similar to making mold shapes for metal casting because one has to make sure there are draft angles allowing items to be pulled out of the molds after they cool.

For Candy & Chocolate molds non-toxic safe Food-Grade flexible silicon rubber is used ~ For Metal the 3D-Printed Shapes are pressed into Sand to create hollow areas to pour in molten metal.

Metal Casting with 3D Printed Sand Mold Shapes

To see some metal casting molds I made with SuperDave, click on this Link:

We Used SolidWorks Photo-Realistic Renderings to Choose Best Design

I emailed Carma SolidWorks renderings for her to view, and she would suggest design & size changes until we had a final design.

We Finished the Final Designs Several Months Before the Event

After SolidWorks CAD designs were done, I sent them to the 3D-Printing company to be 3D-Printed.

SafeKids Logo 3D-Printed in High Res by

I have a 3D-Printer; however, these 3D-printed mold shapes needed to be high-resolution so I sent the .STL 3DP files to Shapeways because they have very expensive 3D-Printers that can print extremely smooth parts.

One of the SafeKids Logo Shapes Used to Make Food Grade Silicon Molds

As usual, did an outstanding job!!

3D Printed Chocolate Mold Shapes from Shapeways

Once the 3D-Printed shapes were done I tested some Food Grade Silicon and decided that I am not the person to be using sticky items and sent everything to Carma up in North Dakota to make the Silicone Rubber molds.

One of the Many Kits for Making Food Grade Silicone Rubber Molds

Carma, and the folks that helped her up in North Dakota, did a much better job than I could have ever done making the Food-Grade Silicon Chocolate molds.

SolidWorks Rendering to Show How the Chocolates Would Look

I’m not sure of the whole story, but as the event got closer there was an emergency Carma had to work on and her mother (Judy) stepped in saving the day by making hundreds of Chocolates using the silicon rubber molds.

Thank You Judy!!!

Page from the SafeKids 2017 Newsletter

WELL DONE  SAFEKIDS Volunteers!! 🙂

It was fun being a small part of the Event to help SafeKids!!

… CHEERS!!   Charles (@MetalDesigner)

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3DP Drywall Hole Repair

SolidWorks CAD Software Concept of a Drywall Patch

Many ways to do the same thing … and 3D-Printing added another way to patch a drywall hole left over after removing a Flat-Screen TV.

Removed an Old Flat-Screen TV from a Wall Exposing a Hole

In the past, I have patched many holes in walls using a plug cut from old drywall or purchased patching material from a hardware store.

Hole in the Wall after a Flat-Screen TV was Removed

Didn’t have any old leftover drywall material to patch the wall, so decided to draw up a 3D-Printed patch while I was relaxing watching TV in the evening.

So this is basically just for fun to see if I could create a patch with 3DP

Transparent View 3D-Printed Drywall Patch

The hole was 1.42″ in diameter where the Flat-Screen TV’s cords went through the wall to another room, so used SolidWorks CAD software to design a 3DP solution using Stainless Steel finishing nails.

Penny Taped Next to the Hole to Give Size Scale

Once the design was finished I 3D-Printed the two wall hole plug parts …

3D-Printed the Drywall Patch in 2 Parts

Tapped No.6-32 Threads in the outer plug’s holes for attaching inner plug …

Threaded Holes in the Outer Patch Part to Connect Inner 3DP Part

Tested No.6 screws to connect the two 3D-Printed Plug parts and all fit well.

Parts Used to Make the 3D-Printed Drywall Patch

Next tested placing in 1 nail at a time in the center of the plug and pushing them out as they would go into the sheet rock to secure the plug.

Used Stainless Steel Finishing Nails as the Locking Mechanism

The 3DP Wall Hole Plug can be mounted with 3 nails or 6 nails …

The 3DP Patch Locks Using 3 Nails but also can use as many as 6 Nails

Everything worked in the tests so next step was secure it inside the hole …

Supplies for Patching the Wall with Drywall Spackling

Rosie-Cat my SolidWorks Co-Designer fell asleep on the job so was on my own, luckily BKE said she would patch the hole if I would prep the wall.

My Co-Worker Rosie the Cat Sleeping on the Job

Just in case, I attached a string to a long screw in the hole plug so it would not fall inside the wall if I pushed it too far, but the fit was tight and it held very well in place about 0.05″ in from the wall to allow space for spackling the area several times for good coverage.

Attached a string to the 3DP Drywall Plug in case it fell inside the wall

Used all six of the 1″ stainless steel finishing nails about 1/2″ into the drywall.

The Design Allows for One Nail to be Pressed into Drywall at a Time

I could have pressed the nails up to 3/4″ into the drywall but 1/2″ in seemed to secure the plug very well and no need to go deeper and risk drywall cracking.

3D-Printed Patch in the Wall Ready to Have the Inner Plug Part Attached

Screwed on the inner rough finish 3DP part and everything fit well.

Randomly added a lot of Holes & Texture to the 3D-Printed Patch

With my part finished, BKE took over prepping the wall and finished it.

Spackle goes on Pink and turns White when it is Dry

The area will be sanded, textured, repainted, and artwork put on the wall.

3D-Printed Patch and Other Holes Covered with Drywall Spackle

When the artwork is mounted, I will update this post with a photo of it.

The Wall Area after being Patched, Textured, and Painted

The SolidWorks CAD files can be viewed on GrabCAD

3D-Printed Drywall Hole Plug

Click on Image to View CAD Files on

Many other ways to do this, but 3D-Printing made it a fun project. 🙂

… CHEERS!!  

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

3D Printed Turret Vise/Fixture

Combining Metal Parts with 3D-Printed Parts

SolidWorks Concept Rendering of 3D-Printed Turret Vise

For years I have been combining 3D-Printed parts with Metal Fasteners :
Nuts, bolts, screws, washers, threaded rod, rivets, etc …

3D-Printed ‘Soft-Touch’ Vise for Clamping Delicate Parts

Recently I had the need for a Vise/Fixture with a very soft-touch to clamp delicate parts – and my metal vises were too strong – so decided to 3D-Print a ‘softer’ clamping fixture with Jaws on 2 sides.

GrabCAD Files ~ 3D Printed ‘Soft-Touch’ Vise/Fixture

3D-Printed Dovetail & Threaded Rod/Nut Connection

Actually, could have made it much simpler out of larger 3DP parts and not needed all the connections … but the point was to show Metal-to-3DP part connections, so I worked them into the design.

So please don’t waste your time 3D-Printing this fixture, because I’m only sharing it as a teaching CAD example to show Metal-to-3DP connections.

Vise will be used as a Robotic Fixture connected to Servos

This 2-Jaw Vise is actually a fixture I use for a very specific purpose, and it will not be strong enough for most purposes when used as a table vise.

I am connecting servos to it and wanted to make sure it could not clamp hard enough to crush my fingers without bending first – Hurts but doesn’t crush. 🤣

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

Metal Parts Combined with 3D-Printed Parts

In addition, I like to design projects whereby parts from initial simple projects can later be used in more advanced project assemblies.

Two Vise Options that Use Many of the Same 3D-Printed Parts

Just for fun, I decided to design two Multi-Jaw Fixtures whereby many of the parts from the ‘Soft-Touch’ 2-Jaw can be used to create another rotating 5-Jaw Turret Fixture that could be mounted on my workshop table.

Top-View of a 3DP 5-Jaw Clamping Fixture Design Concept

I’m not going to 3D-Print the 5-Jaw Version because ( as designed ) it would not be strong enough for most uses, but it was fun to show how many little 3DP parts can designed to fit together using Metal-to-3DP part connections.

SolidWorks Design for a 2-Jaw 3D Printed Vise

Reusable 3DP parts are great way for individuals (new to 3D-Printing) to build confidence by printing just a few parts to make an initial project  … then later, they can use many of those early parts to build future projects.

SolidWorks CAD Concept for a 3D Printed 5-Jaw Turret Vise

If you would like to view additional projects I created using 3D-Printed parts combined with metal items – The Links are Shown below :

3D-Printed iPhone Tripod Mount

3D-Printed an iPhone Mount for the 3D-Printed Tripod Mount

Many smaller parts fit on the platform for 3D-Printing at the same time …

3D-Printing Software Predicts the Filament needed & Time to Print

Workshop Video Camera Mount

Upper and Lower 3D-Printed Parts with the Old Aluminum Curtain Rods

I had a lot of fun testing different mounting solutions using 3DP parts …

3D-Printed Camera Angle Adjustment Ball

SolidWorks CAD Files & 3D-Printing .STL files are on GrabCAD

GrabCAD Files ~ iPhone 3D-Printed Mount

GrabCAD Files ~ Workshop Camera Mount

Transparent View Showing How the Ball is Held in Place with Hex Nut/Bolt

Combining Metal with Other Materials

For decades, designers have combined together ‘dissimilar materials’using the materials they had available – to create objects for specific purposes.

Old Farm Machinery Combined Wood with Metal Parts

Years ago, while visiting a friend’s family farm, I noticed how vintage machinery was created using a combination of forged iron parts and wood.

Wood & Metal Vintage Machinery on a Friend’s Family Farm

This gave me the idea of using softer 3D-Printed materials combined with stronger metal fasteners & parts to create very durable items.

Carbon-Fiber 3D-Printed Speaker Box

SolidWorks CAD Concept for a 3D-Printed Carbon-Fiber Speaker Housing

Even if the 3D-Printing technology isn’t available yet for 3D-Printers to make items the size – and out of the materials wished for – I still continue to design items, preparing for future 3DP fabrication methods.

3D Printed Clone Part Designs

Section-View of 3D-Printed Vise connected with Metal Screws & Nuts

Learn By Reverse-Engineering 3D-Printed Assemblies

Instead of writing out in detail how I design each 3DP-to-Metal connection, decided to provide the CAD files for the 3D-Printed Vises on GrabCAD :

GrabCAD Files ~ 3D Printed Turret Vise/Fixture

Section-View of a 3D Printed Part with Threaded Metal Fasteners

You can download the SolidWorks CAD files, and/or .STL files, and review the parts to see the sizes & shapes I used to create 3DP-to-Metal Connections.

Transparent-View showing Straight and Angled Fastener Nut Slots

Specifically made the designs using many different 3DP connection methods.

Split-View of the the Slide Portion of the 2-Jaw Vise

In addition -Uploaded a 3DP Test Block to GrabCAD that you can print out to get the feel of the ‘fit-up’ dimensions used for many of my 3DP Projects :

GrabCAD Files ~ 3D Printed Fastener Test Block

.STL Files for the 3DP Hole Size ‘Test Block’ are on GrabCAD

The Test Block has all the different connections I use in my 3DP projects.

Printing the Metal-Fastener ‘Test Block’ on my AFINIA 3D Printer

Since I live in the United States, I used No.6-32 TPI screws and 1/4″-20 TPI threaded fasteners as the examples in the Test Block; however, the 3DP connection methods will work on all sizes, metric, etc.

Horizontal Vs. Vertical 3D-Printing of Fastener Part Holes

It does make a difference how you place items in your 3D-Printing software to print … Possibly in a future post I will go into greater detail … but if you want to see it for yourself just print the Test Block sitting vertical vs. horizontal on your 3D-Printer’s platform.  ( As shown in above image )

There are 2 Holes in the Test Block the Correct Size for Tapping Threads

You can also tap threads directly into your 3D-Printed parts, so I added 2 holes in the Test Block that are the correct size for tapping No.6-32TPI screws & 1/4″-20TPI threaded fasteners. ( Also the taper for flathead screws )

I Tap Threads directly into Many of my 3D-Printed Metal Casting Patterns

Dovetail joints are a great way to connect 3DP Parts ~ I used a few dovetail connections on the 2-Jaw 3D-Printed vise design.

Also used dovetail joint connections on a project for my friend Keith –

3D-Printed Metal Casting Pattern Created with Notched Connections

Video by Keith Rucker ( Vintage Machinery Museum ) using one of my notched & threaded 3D-Printed Patterns – You can click on the image below if you wish to view the YouTube Video.

Video Link for a 3DP Project I worked on with Keith Rucker

The Same 3DP Parts Used for Multiple Projects

Was talking with Brook (Founder/CEO of Printrbot) who has lots of cool ideas … and we discussed designing some projects whereby each 3DP project builds upon future projects … 3DP .STL part files work on many projects.

It’s about time to upgrade to a Printrbot with a large print platform!! 😜

Click Image to View Info about Printrbot 3D-Printers

For this project used the AFINIA 3D-Printer I have had for many years …

3D-Printing a Vise Part on the AFINIA 3D Printer

I’ve had a Multi-3DP .STL File Project Build concept for awhile, and have wanted to expand it so that when individuals, families, schools, and organizations buy a 3D-Printer they have numerous .STL file project options.

… So they aren’t just printing Yoda Heads* and Fidget Spinners 😜
( *Personal Note ~ Yoda head is VERY cool to print )

Vise Created with 3D-Printed Parts and Metal Threaded Fasteners

The goal is to have thousands of 3DP .STL file options to 3D-Print projects & experiments, whereby many of the 3DP parts already printed will work as parts in other future projects.

While the 3D Printed 2-Jaw Vise/Fixture does have many parts that can be used to make the 5-Jaw Turret Vise/Fixture – I would like future creative & scientific projects to have even more interchangeable parts.

Testing the 3DP 2-Jaw Vise on my Workshop Table

These 3DP Vise/Fixture designs are just examples to show the many different ways to connect 3D-Printed parts with metal items.

3D-Printed Vise Section Side-View Showing Threaded Metal Parts

Made this fixture to hold delicate items that I do not want to crush; thus, this design might not be strong enough as a table vise, and would suggest you create your own 3DP vise design that may work better for your projects.

SolidWorks CAD files and 3D-Printing Files Uploaded to GrabCAD

Hopefully the Metal Fastener Connection information will help. 😀

… CHEERS!!!      Charles Marlin (@MetalDesigner)


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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:

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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3D Printed Household Items

An alternate name for this Post could be:  🙂
Why Your Parents ( or Spouse) Should Let You Buy a 3D Printer

The ABS & PLA Filament 3D-Printer I have for Household Projects

Most of the projects presented on this site are 3DP or Workshop related …

bluDRO Electronics Box 3D-Printed for a Friend’s Project

For example, these photos are from a collaboration with Al to make a 3D Printed box for his blu-DRO Controller which allows individuals to use their Android Tablet as a Digital Readout on their Milling Machine or Metal Lathe.

3D-Printed Bluetooth DRO Mounts

bluDRO Control Box for Milling Machine Digital Readout

3D Printed Household Items

For this post, I would like to show 3D-Printed Household items which I made on my own personal 3D printer as inspiration for others as to what YOU can make at home with a 3D-Printer.

Each item will have a link for more info and/or CAD & .STL files 🙂

ARLO Wireless Security Camera Mount

ARLO Security Camera 3D Printed Mount

Made this 3D Printed ceiling mount for a 100% wire-free, weatherproof, HD ARLO Security Camera that allows me to easily remove the camera to change the batteries every few months.

Even when the bottom screw is loosened the camera stays in place on the 3DP mount due to the camera’s back magnet still touching the mount’s back bolt, allowing me to grip it securely while standing on a ladder.

When I put the camera back on the 3DP mount after changing the batteries, it magnetically clicks in place between the sides holding the camera secure.  This allows me to release my hold on it so I can tighten the lower mounting screw.

Transparent CAD View Showing How the ARLO Camera is Mounted

Link to a New ARLO Mount I made with Pivoting Base 🙂

ARLO 3D Printed Camera Mount Parts Printed on the AFINIA 3D Printer

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Not everything created for the household is a complicated 3DP design as shown with these simple 3D Printed Cord Wraps that use Elastic Hair Ties …

3D-Printed Cord Wraps

3D Printed Cord Wraps Made with Hair Ties

It is very common to end up with only a few wraps of filament on a spool, not enough to make the next print, but too much to waste…  So I decided to make a few designs for items I could print when I was at the end of a roll.

Even did a Filament Weight Test to know exactly how much I could print.

Only Had 17 Wraps of Filament Left on the Spool

I use these ‘Hair Tie’ Cord Wraps on so many items that I am constantly having to print more … sometimes even when I am not at the end of a spool.

Close-Up of the 3D Printed Tab Used as Part of the Hair Tie Wraps

Spend so much time designing SolidWorks CAD items on the computer that, many years ago, I built a Computer Stand with a swing over monitor and switched my office to a LazyBoy chair ~ It is an incredibly comfortable work space!

LazyBoy Chair SolidWorks CAD Work Area

I set items I am measuring on top of the Computer Stand, so wanted to keep it clean and needed a good place to store my headphones within easy reach.

Used the Side Supporting All-Thread as a Place to Hang My HeadPhones

The logical solution was to use the all-thread side supports on my computer stand and design a hanger for the headphones to keep them out of the way.
( They don’t affect the Hard-drive *wink* )

3D Printed Hanger for Headphones on Side of Computer

When adding the photo above, I noticed the little 3D printed ring I made for my iPhone’s neck strap that keeps my clumsy hands from dropping my phone.

The strap ring is a good example how small of parts can be 3D-Printed 🙂

Small Ring Used to Secure the Strap on my iPhone

ANTS … ANTS … and More ANTS!!!

Sometimes the 3D Printer can make items very quickly that are needed in unusual shapes which would be hard to make any other way …

Like many homes we had a mini-ant summer invasion … and by mini I mean the size of the ants … the invasion was massive … Ants everywhere so we needed a solution quickly … Called the exterminator but they would not guarantee they could get rid of mini-ants … So had to come up with a solution of our own.

Borax and Honey Ant Bait Box Created with 3D Printer

The solution was using a Borax & Honey Ant bait mixture that the ants would take back to their nest and kill future ants from coming into the house.

Also needed a way to lure the ants to the bait without pets getting to the honey … Something low-profile that could be placed in areas pets can not reach.

Ant Borax & Honey Bait Pyramid created with SolidWorks CAD

It only took about 15 minutes to draw up this ANT BAIT PYRAMID in SolidWorks CAD Software and 3D Print several for around the house.
.STL 3DP files can be found on GrabCAD:

Within 24 hours we did not see another ant for the rest of the year, and each early summer we get the same Ant invasion; however, every year it is gone within 24 hours using these Ant Bait Boxes.

Video of Ants on the Borax & Honey Bait Box:

YouTube Video Showing the Ants Attracted to the Honey in 3DP Bait Pyramid

Turtlebutt the Amazing Adopted Desert Tortoise

We have a Desert Tortoise who is part of the Nevada Tortoise Adoption Program whereby Desert Tortoises that are injured, or born in captivity, must be hosted by volunteers in their backyards.

Turtlebutt is a good sort, he never bites people, very friendly, eats better organic food than we do … and most of all he likes to motor around the backyard somewhat like a bulldozer on legs.

Turtlebutt Giving the Eyeball Look with Food Stuck to his Face

He has grown considerably over the years causing an issue with the Patio bench he likes to walk under … He is a straight-line walking kind of guy, so we had to come up with a solution to raise the bench out of his way so he didn’t keep dragging it across the patio … even though seemed to enjoy moving it each day.

Link to Story:  3D-Printed Bench Leg Extensions

3D Printed Bench Leg Extensions for ‘Turtlebutt’ the Tortoise


I mention a lot that it is the simple things that make a 3D printer helpful …

We had a Window Cleaning Squeegee and the perfect place to hang it in the kitchen pantry but didn’t have the perfect hanger.

Once again … The Solution was to 3D Print a Hanger 🙂

3D Printed Squeegee Hanger

3D Printed Hanger for Window Squeegee in Kitchen Pantry

All the items kept falling over in the racks below the Kitchen sink …

Under Kitchen Sink Rubber Band Hooks

3D Printed Elastic Band Hooks for Under Kitchen Sink

Occasionally it is nice to be able to hang items like swimsuits outside to dry, so 3D Printed Laundry Clip-On Hooks that fit on the back of the outdoor patio furniture, as-well-as on a Fold-Out Laundry Rack.

3DP Laundry Hooks for Hanging Extra Items on Drying Rack

Ya Gotta have Swizzle Sticks for New Years Eve!!!

.STL Files for Swizzle Stick can be found on GrabCAD:

Happy New Year 3D Printed Swizzle Stick

We have an elderly cat that came to live with us many years ago when she was 10 years old … and now at 18 she likes to sleep on my lap when I work on SolidWorks CAD drawings in my LazyBoy Computer Chair.

There was no place to put my keyboard without disturbing her sleep, so quickly 3D-Printed a keyboard mount that connected to my monitor and now Rosie-Cat gets to sleep whenever she wishes.

Keyboard Monitor Mount So Cat May Sleep on My Lap While Working

Last summer some friends invited me to a 4th of July event ~ I sent mini SG Gibson guitar models as a thank you since they are fans of Gibson Guitars.

I wanted a custom mini-stand, so designed & 3D Printed this version …

Mini Gibson SG Guitar Stand

3D-Printed Mini-Guitar Stand for a Model SG Gibson Guitar

Lots of Uses for a Household 3D-Printer!!

3D-Printing 4 More Rubber Band Hooks for Under the Kitchen Sink Drawer

I was intimidated the first time I used my 3D-Printer; however, now it is just another tool to make things … and the best part is once you press the start button you can walk away and work on other items (or go to bed) and come back later and the 3D Printed item is finished.  Yay!! 🙂

3D-Printers may seem like they take a long time to print items, but if you are doing something else during that time the 3D-Printer is making your part, then really it is like getting 2 items done at the same time.

I Enjoy Helping Others with their Just-for-Fun 3D Printing Designs

If you get a new 3D-Printer and find yourself stuck on how to draw a household solution … Drop me a comment on here, or @MetalDesigner on Twitter, and we can see what we can come up with for a solution just for the fun of it.

Click here to see how to make METAL CASTING 3D-Printed Patterns

Vulcan Locomotive Exhaust Nozzle and the 3D-Printed Pattern

CHEERS!!    Charles Marlin ( @MetalDesigner )

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3DP Hard-Hat Cooling Mount

Concept of the 3DP Mount Created with SolidWorks CAD Software

This is why I like SolidWorks CAD Software & 3D-Printing!!!  ( 3DP )

Wanted an unusual shaped mount, so decided to quickly draw & 3D-Print it.

Part 1-of-2 for the Mount that fits inside my Hard-Hat

When visiting job-sites in Las Vegas many require everyone to where a hard hat.

Last year I put some ice packets inside my hard hat to see if I could create a cooling effect to make it more comfortable when visiting job-sites during those hot 110 degree sunny Nevada days.

Ice Packets Being Tested inside a Hard-Hat Purchased from Home Depot

Usually I am just there to get measurements of something I need to design for the project; unfortunately, sometimes it means standing in the hot sun for hours.

The Cooling Test worked, so this year decided to make a permanent mount …

Screen-Capture Showing the AFINIA 3D-Printers Software

Designed a 2-part mount using SolidWorks and 3D-Printed the 2 parts …

Printing Part 2 of 2 of the Hard-Hat 3PD Mount

Nice thing about 3DP is one can draw very complex shapes without having to worry about draft angles which would have to be considered if injection molded.

Just-for-fun I added a mounting area for a temperature sensor inside …

Finished Part 2-of-2 for the Hardhat Mount

Bolted the mount to the hard-hat and everything still is located 3/4″ above my head allowing the cool air to slowly drift down over my head during hot days.

Later I will test different sealed cooling ice packets with a temperature sensor.

Finished 3D-Printed Mount inside Hardhat

Just another fun 3D-Printing (3DP) Project 🙂

… CHEERS!!!  

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

Powder Coating Oven 3DP Parts

SolidWorks Rendering of the Powder Coating Oven Electronics Box

Earlier this year I started buying parts to make a Powder Coating Oven.

Controls inside the finished PCO Control Box prior to wiring

Controls inside the finished PCO Control Box prior to wiring

I will try to post images later to help others make their own PCO controller …

Controls Shown in PCO Control Box Prior to Wiring

The goal is to have a Portable Powder Coating Oven (PCO) with removable panels that can be configured into different shapes to allow for powder coating rectangular boxy shaped items as-well-as long thin items by heating the same volume of air with 2 heating elements. ( Total of 5170 watts )

Powder Coating Oven on Wheels allowing to to be moved anywhere in shop

Also a portable (Plug-in) PID Controller for the Powder Coating Oven … with the bonus that the PID Controller can also be used with my Beer Home Brewing Equipment and a future outdoor Meat Smoking Hut 🙂

Portable Powder Coating Oven PID Temperature Control Unit

For this Project my plan was to first draw in all the purchased parts and then start designing the rest of the items using SolidWorks CAD Software.

CLICK HERE to Learn more about Powder Coating

Powder Coating Oven Parts drawn into SolidWorks

Powder Coating Oven Parts drawn into SolidWorks

Attempted to order as many parts as possible off of

Dayton 1TDV2 High Temperature Blower, 115 Volt, 129 CFM

Dayton 1TDV2 High Temperature Blower, 115 Volt, 129 CFM

As they arrived, I weighed the parts and drew them into SolidWorks …

Measuring a part's weight with a digital scale

Measuring a part’s weight with a digital scale

SolidWorks allows me to make the CAD part’s weight, and center of gravity, the same as the real-world part, so completed Assemblies are the correct weight.

The weight of the actual real-world part matches the SolidWorks CAD part

The weight of the actual real-world part matches the SolidWorks CAD part

SolidWorks also allows users to make Photo-Realistic renderings of the parts for presenting a visual of how real-life item will appear when finished.

SolidWorks Renderings of Parts for the Powder Coating Oven

SolidWorks Renderings of Parts for the Powder Coating Oven

I decided to 3D-Print many of the parts for the Oven’s Control Box …

3D-Printed Side Air Hole Vent Covers for Electronics Box

3D-Printed Side Air Hole Vent Covers for Electronics Box

First designed the Powder Coating Oven’s Electronics box with SolidWorks …

( Click on any image to see a larger view of the photo )

SolidWorks CAD Rendering showing the side Vent Covers

SolidWorks CAD Rendering showing the side Vent Covers

One of the benefits of using a 3D-Printer is designing any shape needed without worry of ‘draft angles’ which are required to make plastic injection parts.

For example, I wanted to be able to switch out different size/models of square shaped PID Controllers & Digital Timers.

Rounds Cutouts in Sheet Metal to Mount Square Controls

Rounds Cutouts in Sheet Metal to Mount Square Controls

So I designed and 3D-Printed a mounting setup which allows ‘square’ controls to go in a ’round’ hole easily drilled with a 2.5″ hole saw using a drill press.


Mounts to put a Square PID Control into a Round Hole

Mounts to put a Square PID Control into a Round Hole

You can download the .STL files for 3D-Printing the Square Mounts for Round Holes drilled with a Hand Drill and Hole-Saw

I put the .STL files for 3D-Printing these PID Mounts on GrabCAD

Also designed and drew up some Cord Stop Clamps  ( .STL Files )

3DP Cord Stop Clamps to Keep Cords from Pulling Out of the Control Box

3DP Cord Stop Clamps to Keep Cords from Pulling Out of the Control Box

I like to show lots to dimensions in my drawings to prevent mistakes 🙂

Drawing of the Powder Coating Oven’s Front Control Panel

Tested the 3D-Printed parts, and the purchased parts, within the sheet metal cutouts prior to welding & painting the Electronics Box.

Testing 3D-Printed Parts in the Sheet Metal prior to painting

Testing 3D-Printed Parts in the Sheet Metal prior to painting

The electrical Terminal blocks I bought didn’t work, so I designed some …

Uploaded the 3Dp .STL files to GrabCAD ~ Link:  3Dp Terminal Blocks

SolidWorks Transparent View of the Electrical Connection Terminal Block

SolidWorks Transparent View of the Electrical Connection Terminal Block

Didn’t have 1/8″ thick Copper so found some Aluminum angle in scrap bin …

Drill and Tap Size Dimensions for creating the Terminal metal bar

Drill and Tap Size Dimensions for creating the Terminal metal bar

Drilled and Tapped the Aluminum and then cut it to the correct size …

Tapping Threads in the No.6-32 and No.10-24 Connection Holes

Tapping Threads in the No.6-32 and No.10-24 Connection Holes

3D-Printed one for White wires, and another for Black wires, and the ABS 3D-Printing material acts as an insulator for the 120V electrical connections.

Aluminum or Copper Flatbar sections press into a slot in the ABS Terminal Block

Aluminum or Copper Flatbar sections press into a slot in the ABS Terminal Block

The Cover keeps the screws from falling out even if they become loose …

Different Size Wire Terminal Ring Connections can be used on Terminal Bar

Different Size Wire Terminal Ring Connections can be used on Terminal Bar

I will probably switch out the Aluminum with Copper flatbar when I get some.

3D-Printed ABS material Cover protects the metal area of the connections

3D-Printed ABS material Cover protects the metal area of the connections

A specific feature I wanted for this (PCO) Powder Coating Oven was the ablity to know the cost of the electricity used while Powder Coating parts.

Amp Volt Watt Multi-Meter purchased from

bayite Amp Volt Watt Multi-Meter purchased from

The multi-meter comes with a ring which needs to go around the L2 electrical wire to know the Amps being used, so I designed and 3D-Printed a stand.

3D-Printed Amp Meter Ring Stand fits inside Electronics Box

3D-Printed Amp Meter Ring Stand fits inside Electronics Box

Below is a SolidWorks rendering showing the wiring and Amp Ring Stand.

SolidWorks Rendering showing how the L2 White wire fits into Ring Stand

SolidWorks Rendering showing how the L2 White wire fits into Ring Stand

The baylite Multi-Meter shows the Voltage, Current, Power, and Energy.

SolidWorks Rendering of the kWh Meter for Powder Coating Oven electrical cost

SolidWorks Rendering of the kWh Meter for Powder Coating Oven electrical cost

3D-Printed ABS material provides protection from other wiring in the box …

The finished 3D-Printed Amp Meter Ring Stand Mount for Powder Coating Oven

The finished 3D-Printed Amp Meter Ring Stand Mount for Powder Coating Oven

Tested each of the parts prior to mounting the in the electronics box ~ In the photo below I have the baylite meter setup to test 120v amperage; however, the meter is wired to 240V power in the Powder Coating Oven control box.

Testing the kWh Amp Meter unit prior to installing the the Electronics Box

Testing the kWh Amp Meter unit prior to installing the the Electronics Box

In future posts, after fully testing out the Powder Coating Oven, I will show the wiring in SolidWorks, which is easier to view than the real-life wiring because I will be able to hide, or make transparent, other items in the box to show specific wires going to specific items.

SolidWorks Transparent View of Powder Coating Oven Control's Wiring

SolidWorks Transparent View of Powder Coating Oven Control’s Wiring

I have already uploaded many of the CAD parts to

SolidWorks Rendering of Switches used in the Powder Coating Oven designs

SolidWorks Rendering of Switches used in the Powder Coating Oven designs

Tried to keep most of the items as Single part files; yet, still allow the parts to be adjustable, such as allowing switches to be viewed as ON or OFF.

The SolidWorks CAD switch can be set to show it as ON or OFF

The SolidWorks CAD switch can be set to show it as ON or OFF

Made the gap adjustable so the switch fits on other material thicknesses …

Gap of the Switch can be changes to match the thickness of metal

Gap of the Switch can be changes to match the thickness of metal

The LED Readout numbers can also be set for Tutorials & User Manuals …

The AUBER PID Controller keeps the the Oven's temperature consistent

The AUBER PID Controller keeps the the Oven’s temperature consistent

I try to use metal from my scrap metal bin to make equipment for my shop and sometimes the metal is heavier than I would normally use.

For example, the sheet metal for this PCO (Powder Coating Oven) Control box is 0.135″ thick and I would probably normally use 0.075″ thick sheet metal.

Welding the Powder Coating Oven Control Box Sides Together

Welding the Powder Coating Oven Control Box Sides Together

After drilling & cutting all the holes, I welded the Control box sides together …

The finished sheet metal PCO (Powder Coating Oven) Control Box

The finished sheet metal PCO (Powder Coating Oven) Control Box

Since this unit is for my shop I painted the PCO Control box Flat Black …

The PCO Control Box with Bolt-On Top & Back Plates

The PCO Control Box with Bolt-On Top & Back Plates

The Top & Back plates bolt-on to make the inner Controls easier to wire …

Painted the Powder Coating Oven (PCO) Control Box Flat Black

Painted the Powder Coating Oven (PCO) Control Box Flat Black

After the paint cured I started adding the controls & switches …

Installed the the Front LED Lights, Switches, Timer, and PID Controller

Installed the the Front LED Lights, Switches, Timer, and PID Controller

Noticed I was one ON/OFF switch short … They came in a Pack of 5 … *sigh*

Back on AMAZON to order more … For some reason I thought there was 6 🤔

All the Powder Coating Oven electronic parts fit in the box as designed

All the Powder Coating Oven electronic parts fit in the box as designed

After tests realized I didn’t need the Air Cooling fan but added one anyway.

Next Step is to add the 240V Outlets to each side of the PCO Control Box

Next Step is to add the 240V Outlets to each side of the PCO Control Box

Everything on the PCO is powered from outlets & extension cords, because this is a portable Powder Coating Unit that can be taken to different locations.

This Electronics box can also control a Meat Smoker & a Home Brewing system.
(  I wanted a multi-use Control Box for future projects ~ Whoo Hoo!!  )  😜

Front Blue LED lights-Up when the Blower Fan 120V outlet is switched ON.
Front Green LED Lights-Up when Oven Light 120V outlet is switched ON.

Fan Side View of the Powder Coating Oven's Control Box

Fan Side View of the Powder Coating Oven’s Control Box

The Amber Light on the front lets users know 240V power is plugged into the Control box … When dealing with 240 Volts – Safety, Safety, Safety!! ⚡

In addition,  the Amber LEDs on each side of the control box light-up when the Contactor Switch is providing 240V power to the 240V side outlets that are connected to the Powder Coating Oven’s Heating Elements.

Vent Side View of the Powder Coating Oven's Control Box

Vent Side View of the Powder Coating Oven’s Control Box

The White LED Lights-Up when 120V Power is plugged into the Control box.

I’m having ‘Laser Etched’ Metal Labels made up to explain Control functions.

View showing the 120V Outlets for the PCO's Blower Fan & Oven Light

View showing the 120V Outlets for the PCO’s Blower Fan & Oven Light

Additional Views of the Controls for the Powder Coating Oven …

Top-View Powder Coating Oven Control Box

Top-View Powder Coating Oven Control Box

Fan Side-View Powder Coating Oven Control Box

Fan Side-View Powder Coating Oven Control Box


Vent Side-View Powder Coating Oven Control Box

Vent Side-View Powder Coating Oven Control Box


There is a Switch to Turn ON/OFF the Air Cooling Side Fan

There is a Switch to Turn ON/OFF the Air Cooling Side Fan


3D-Printed Side Air Vents fit into 2.5" Holes cut with a Hole Saw

3D-Printed Side Air Vents fit into 2.5″ Holes cut with a Hole Saw

That’s All for Now 😜

Emergency Stop added to the front of the PCO Control Box

Emergency Stop added to the front of the PCO Control Box

I found the eStop button and added it to the PCO Control Box design …

SolidWorks Photo-Realistic CAD Rendering showing the Emergency Stop

SolidWorks Photo-Realistic CAD Rendering showing the Emergency Stop

Made a temporary stand/mount for the PCO Electronics Control Box …

I think PCO Stand/Mount sort of looks like a Robotic Kangaroo Rat

I think PCO Stand/Mount sort of looks like a Robotic Kangaroo Rat

Already has the nickname of ‘Roo-Rat’  😜

Click on image to see a larger view of PCO Controller on Stand/Mount

Click on image to see a larger view of PCO Controller on Stand/Mount

I uploaded my SolidWorks ‘Working CAD Files’ to GrabCAD for anyone that would like to see how I tested the wiring.

The wiring in the model is not complete, but it will show how I wired the Auber PID Temperature Control, as-well-as the Inkbird Timer Control and the Digital Amp/Volt Meter.

GrabCAD Link:

Prototype Wiring CAD Model Files Uploaded to

The Powder Coating Over Controls I used were:

Auber SYL-2342  PID Temperature Control
( SYL-2342 version is for Contactors not SSRs )


Eaton C25BNF240A  Compact Definite Purpose Contactor

Bayite AC 80-260V LCD  Watt Multimeter Ammeter Voltmeter

AC Infinity AXIAL 8038   Muffin Cooling Fan, 115V AC

Erb44t10010  2,585 watt Heating Elements ( 2 )

If you have any wiring/control Questions send me a comment  🙂


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