Category Archives: SolidWorks CAD Rendering

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

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!?

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

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

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.

CHEERS!!    Charles Marlin ( @MetalDesigner )

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3D Printed BBQ Door Hinges

We have the best neighbors and like to exchange help on household projects.

Our Neighbor’s Finished BBQ Area Project

We needed some concrete work done on our pool & wall, and our neighbor was building a backyard BBQ area and needed Stainless Steel Doors.
( He owns a Custom Concrete & Stone Business )

BBQ Area BEFORE Stone was Added to Cover Concrete Block Structure

He showed me the concrete block BBQ structure so I could measure the openings that required two single doors and one set of double doors.

Small Opening that Needed a Stainless Steel Door

The plan was to cover the BBQ concrete block with Stone approximately 1.5″ thick; therefore, I needed to come up with a design to hold the Stainless Steel doors out far enough to match the thickness of the stone.

Outer Covering of Stone Being Installed

Decided to use stainless angle to create frames and use 3DP for hinge parts …

SolidWorks CAD Model for One of the Stainless Steel Door Units

Created the BBQ Door designs using SolidWorks CAD Software …

Testing in SolidWorks How Much the Door Would be Able to Open

Matched the top of the handles the same distance from the top of doors …

All 4 of the Stainless Steel Doors I Designed for My Neighbor’s BBQ Area

Once I had the doors figured out … Made a quick BBQ area concept drawing.

Made a SolidWorks CAD Concept Drawing of the BBQ Area

Showed the BBQ area concept designs to our neighbor and he liked them …

Next step was to refine the Sheet Metal bends and hole locations using the ‘Sheet Metal’ feature which is included with SolidWorks CAD Software.

Stainless Door Drawn with SolidWorks Sheet Metal Feature

Created Sheet Metal Flat-Patterns to make sure the Stainless Steel Fabrication shop would be able to Cut the doors with a CNC Laser or shear.

The SolidWorks Sheet Metal Flat-Pattern Used to Create the .DXF file

After the designs were given to McClure Stainless – Metal Fabricators in Las Vegas – I was then able to concentrate on the 3DP Hinge units.

Transparent View Showing the 3D-Printed Hinge Concept

Came up with a design that used a combination of 3D Printed ABS and Stainless Steel fasteners ( Nuts, Bolts, Screws ) …

Top Section View showing the Hinge Pin Unit and the Stainless Door

The BBQ unit required a 1/8″ gap around the doors for air flow, so I used a pin hinge and was able to test the turning diameter in SolidWorks.

Testing the Door’s Edge Opening Clearance inside the Frame

I knew the door’s sheet metal bend radius when received the finished Stainless doors from McClure Stainless, so adjusted my SolidWorks bends to match the bend radius of McClure’s press brake’s tooling.

BTW ~ McClure Stainless, LLC made the doors very fast & great workmanship!!

Top View Showing the Maximum Opening Angle of the Door in Frame

Was also able to test the maximum angle the doors could be opened.

3D Printed Hinge Pin Mount Parts and Lathe Screw Cutting Fixture

Part of the Hinge Pin design required turning (cutting) off some of the thread on a stainless fastener to create the hinge pin end.

Making a Hinge Pin from a Stainless Steel Screw on My Metal Lathe

Made a quick fixture to hold the stainless screws in my Metal Lathe’s jaws.

Brenda Picked Out Door Handles to Match the BBQ’s Curved Handle

Purchased the Door handles from LOWES to match the BBQ’s main handle.

3D Printed Hole Drilling Guides for Door Edges

Decide it would be faster & easier to drill the holes myself, and I wanted all the doors to have the same hole locations, so I 3D-Printed a punch guide for marking where to drill the holes in the bottom and top of the doors.

3D Printed Handle Screw Spacers to Adjust for Thin Sheet Metal

The handles purchased from LOWES were designed for thicker wood, so I 3D-Printed spacers for inside the doors to allow the screws to compress against the 0.050″ thick stainless steel sheet metal.

SolidWorks Screen-Capture Showing Magnetic Door Catch Design

Also 3D Printed mounts to hold Ferritic Stainless Steel washers used in combination with Rare Earth Magnets pressed into 3D printed door catches screwed to the outer door frames.

3D-Printed Hinge Pin Mount Hidden Inside the Door

Mounted the hinge pin units after I finished drilling all the holes …

Stainless Screw Hinge Pin in BBQ Door

I made the holes slightly larger than the hinge pin in case I needed to re-3D Print the inner mounts to adjust door alignment inside the frames.

3D Printed Spacers on Top and Bottom of Doors

Came up with an Upper & Lower spacer design that provided maximum coverage but also can not be viewed when door is opened and closed.

3D Printer Software Showing a Multi-Print of 16 Spacers

When 3D Printing little parts I like to print them in large groups to allow the filament to cool on each part before starting the next print layer.

It took over an hour to 3D Print the 16 spacers; however, once started I could work on other items out in the workshop during that time.

Notes to Myself So I Would Not Drill Holes in the Wrong Location

Still use paper drawings in my workshop, but find I am using digital .PDF drawings and eDrawings on the iPad more and more as time goes on.

Using Paper Drawings as well as eDrawings Viewed on My iPad in Shop

Used the Miller Dynasty TIG welding machine in my workshop to make the door frames from 1.5″ x 0.125″ Stainless Steel angle …

Stainless Steel Door Frames Ready to be Mounted onto Concrete Blocks

Drilled lots of extra holes in the Stainless Steel door frames to allow for good anchor bolt/screw mounting locations on the concrete block.

Stainless Steel BBQ Door Frames

After the door frames were in place our neighbor finished the stonework …

View of the Finished Stainless Steel Doors Installed in BBQ Area

Neighbor very pleased with the results & I feel the doors look nice with stone.

Another View of the Neighbor’s New BBQ Area

In the photo below you can see one of the magnetic Ferritic Stainless catches.

Noticed I Forgot to Wipe off Finger Smudges Before Taking Photos

Below is one of the 3DP Hinge Pin Units with the Top Cover removed.

3D Printed Hinge Mount Combined with Stainless Steel Fasteners

As a bonus I got to be part of the first BBQ Cooking test!! 😜  Yum!!

Additional View of the Stainless Door Under the Patio Sink

As with many of my 3D Printing projects the CAD files are on

Click on Image to View the CAD & .STL Files on

Also made a quick SolidWorks Tutorial Video showing how I used the ‘Mirror’ part feature to create mirror-image ‘clones’ of the 3D Printed (ABS) Hinge Pin part inserted into the top & bottom of the Stainless Steel BBQ doors.

SolidWorks Tutorial Video Showing How to Create a Mirror Image Part

Now that I know the 3D Printed ABS Hinge Pin units work with the Stainless BBQ doors,  I will probably reprint them in metal at a later date just for the fun of it.

CHEERS!!      Charles Marlin ( @MetalDesigner )

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3D Printed Band-Saw Fixture

My 3D-Printer is making me Lazy ( and I Love it )

Steel Channel Workshop Press

One can assume there are many ways to make angled steel washers, and probably even more places to buy several.

However, it was 10pm at night and I needed 32 Angled Washers in the morning and a way of making them.

As usual I looked to the 3D-Printer for a quick & easy solution.

Washers Angled on One Side and Flat on the Other

Luckily, years earlier, I didn’t listen to warnings from naysayers that said ABS filament 3D-Printers were just toys and could not make usable parts… because my workshop is full of ‘usable’ 3D printed parts.

Sometimes the simple items are the most helpful …

Post about: 3D-Printed MT-3 ABS Inserts

.STL files for 3D Printing items can be found on

3D-Printed MT-3 Shelf Inserts CAD Files

3D Printed Shelf Inserts for MT-3 Tooling


3D-Printed Knob to Open/Close Hydraulic Bottle Jack Valve

3D-Printed Open/Close Knob for Hydraulic Bottle Jack


3D Printed Hole Measurement Inserts

3D-Printed Threaded Measuring Inserts


3D Printed Drill Bit Holder

3D-Printed Drill Bit Holder for the Side of the Drill Press


Tabletop Drill Bit Stand

3D-Printed Tabletop Drill Bit Holder


Pipe Curve Scribe Guide

3D-Printed Pipe Curve Scribe Guide


3D-Printed Angle Washer Band-Saw Fixture

3D-Printed Band Saw Fixture for Cutting Angled Washers


Long story short – I designed a fixture to fit inside the clamp on my metal band-saw to cut angled washers.

3D Printing the two parts for the Band-saw Fixture

In the morning, my plan was to bolt together a project made from steel Channel with inner sides that have an approximate 9 degree angle.

Angle Washers on Channel Bolts

When cutting several holes in the sides of the channel I ended up with a few ready-made angled washer plugs and bored them out with the metal lathe to fit 3/8″ bolts … However, I needed a lot more angled washers.

Angled Slugs Create when Cutting 1″ holes with a Hole Saw

Looking at the Hole-Saw slugs gave me the idea of creating more angled washers.

Boring 3/8″ Holes in the 3/4″ Rod on Metal Lathe

I used 3/4″ mild steel rod and bored 3/8″ holes in each end of the rod …

3D Printed Angle Cutting Fixture and 3/4″ Metal Rod on Band Saw

The plan was to cut angled (9 degree) cuts on each end and then cut another set of straight cuts on each end to create washers …

Metal Rod in 3D Printed Band Saw Fixture

Was not sure if the 3D Printed ABS would hold the rod tight enough in the band saw’s clamp, so I put some vise-grip pliers on the other end of the rod to keep it from spinning …

Overhead View of the Band Saw Cutting the Angled Washer

The 3D Printed ABS split fixture more than held the rod tight enough …

Angled Washer after it was cut off Rod

Every cut creates an Angled Washer from the 3/4″ round stock …

Overhead View of the Band Saw Ready to make the Straight Cut

Outer edge starts out straight … then the first cut creates the 9 degree side of the angled washer … then rod flipped around …

Band Saw Cutting the Straight Cut Side of Washer

After both ends are cut angled, then the 3D Printed fixture is removed for the straight cuts.  Many Washers can be made switching back and forth from Straight to Angled Cuts

Switching back and forth from Straight to Angled Cuts

Process continued until I had enough angled washers to complete my project.

Another View of the Fixture holding the Rod after the Angled Cuts

It worked great!!

Once again ~ Sometimes the simple items are the most helpful.

Finished Angled Washers for Bolting items to the Channel

While I felt a bit lazy starting a 3D-Print and then going to bed to wake up the next morning with a finished part – I am quickly getting over the guilt. 😉

BTW ~ The reason the Workshop Press looks so unusual is because the parts store together as a Press, however, it can transform into 3 additional workshop tools … Sheet Metal bending Press Brake, a Pipe Bender, and a Hoist.

CHEERS!! . . . CHARLES MARLIN ( @MetalDesigner )

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3D Printed Hydraulic Jack Knob

20 Ton Hydraulic Jack with 3D Printed Knobs

This is another ‘simple’ 3DP ( 3D-Printed ) item to make life easier …

Hydraulic Jack 3D Printed (Open/Close) Knobs Project

I am designing a 36 inch long Sheet Metal bending Press Brake for DIY ‘Maker’ workshops and decided to use a Low-Profile Hydraulic Bottle Jack.

Compact Workbench 36 inch Wide Metal Bending Press Brake

Press Brakes are designed based on what material the user wishes to form …

Sheet Metal Thickness Dimensions Used to Figure Out Bending Tonnage

This new workshop sheet metal bending press brake will have an adjustable Vee-Die that will open from 1/2″ to 1.5″ across the V.

Vee-Die Examples Showing the Sheet Metal Bend Radius

A common method of calculating the ‘Air Bend’ Vee-Die distance is using the metal’s thickness multiplied 8 times, or 6 times for a tighter bend radius.

Link for more about Bending Sheet Metal with a Press Brake

If one knows the Vee-Die opening distance and the metal’s thickness then the bending tonnage can be calculated for different widths of metal.
( CINCINNATI  has a great Press Brake Load Calculator Webpage )

CINCINNATI Press Brake Load Calculator Website

First step was to decide on the maximum thickness of metal I will be bending, so I measured the 10 gauge mild steel I had in the shop. ( 0.136″ thick )

While I may bend thicker metal at lengths less than 36″, decided 10 gauge mild steel would be the max thickness bent at 36″ length in a 1.5″ V-Die.

CINCINNATI Press Brake Load Calculator said I would need 17 Tons to bend 36″ of 0.136″ thick mild steel in a 1.5″ V-Die.

Tonnage Calculations for bending a 36″ length of 14 Gauge (0.075″) Mild Steel

While I may bend 0.136″ thick metal from time to time, 16 gauge and 14 gauge will probably be the metal thicknesses I use the most for full 36″ bends.

BTW ~ CINCINNATI make Amazing metal bending Press Brakes and if I had room in my little shop I would buy one; however, since space is the limiting factor, I am going to make a small worktable size press brake.
( View CINCINNATI’s Press Brake Models )

Torin 20-Ton Stubby Bottle Jack purchased at LOWES

I found a low-profile Hydraulic Jack that fits the metal bending specs given by the Tonnage Calculator, so purchased the TORIN 20-Ton Stubby Bottle Jack online and picked it up later that day at my local LOWES store.

SolidWorks CAD model of the 20-Ton TORIN Low-Profile Bottle Jack

First thing I did was draw the Jack into SolidWorks with adjustable features …

SolidWorks Allows the Bottle Jacks Parts to be Adjustable

Knowing the Jack’s exact lifting dimensions will be helpful in future designs …

Since this Hydraulic Bottle Jack will be used with a metal bending press brake I may need to release the pressure quickly with one hand while supporting the metal with the other hand.

Hydraulic Jack Handle with the Replacement 3DP Open/Close Knobs

Using the handle’ notched end to Open & Close the hydraulic valve may be cumbersome at times; therefore, I needed to come up with a valve solution.

Concept for the Large Hydraulic Bottle Jack Knob

Decided to use SolidWorks to draw up Large & Small versions of knobs to Open and Close the jack’s hydraulic fluid value.

SolidWorks 3D Printed Concepts for a Large & Small Open/Close Knobs

3D-Printed the Knobs with a tight hand press-on fit and they worked great!!

3D-Printed the ‘Quick-Turn’ Knob for the Low-Profile Hydraulic Bottle Jack

I had black filament on the AFINIA 3D Printer so used it, but I will probably use an easier to see ‘brighter color’ in future versions of the Open/Close valve knobs.

Close-Up View of the Finished Large Knob for the Hydraulic Bottle Jack

Once again ~ Sometimes the simplest items are the most helpful 🙂


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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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