Category Archives: THOUGHTS

General Thoughts to Myself… Might sound like I am writing them for others but more writing them for me to read at another point in time… You are welcome to read them if you happen upon this blog.

Pam Marlen – Artist (1938-1997)

Art Studio Poster Explaining Pam Marlen’s Glass Bead Making Process

Today would be my mother’s 79th birthday, she passed away in 1997.

Pam Marlen ( Mary Pamela Smith) 1938-1997 Artist

I have very little of my Mother’s artwork, and if not for the kindness of my little brother sending me several items I would not have any.

As-well-as designing Passive Solar Houses, Gardens, and Landscaping – She also created amazing fused glass creations, pottery, glass beads, quilting, water colors, stained glass, and probably many other items I’m not remembering as I write this post.

She would even make the  unusual fun vests she would wear to events …

Back label on Pam Marlen’s ‘Buttons to Beads’ Self-Portrait

Much of my mother’s artwork was sold and anything left after her death was distributed amongst the family; therefore, the stunning Fused Glass pieces are owned by others, but I am very happy to have what might be one of my mother’s only artistic self-portraits.

Buttons to Beads Quilt with Glass Beads by Pam Marlen

Pam Marlen didn’t do anything normal, and if she was going to do a self-portrait of course it would be something unusual like combining Quilting & Glass Bead making to make the portrait of her making Glass Beads …

Paper that was pinned to Quilt – Houston National Quilt and Beads Showing

She also included herself playing with buttons as a child in the portrait …

Pam Marlen as Child Playing with Buttons

All of the Glass Beads attached to the quilt were made by Pam Marlen and they were sewn to the quilt using buttons on the back …

Back of Buttons to Beads Self-Portrait Quilt by Pam Marlen

My mother liked to save items that she didn’t feel were worth selling because there was an imperfection on those items… she didn’t save much but some items had imperfections she liked and would save them inside her studio, just for her own collection.

I’m not sure how many people knew about her ‘imperfection collection‘, but she and I talked about them once and it was fascinating how she liked something special about each one.

Fused Glass Examples in Background

A few years ago I found 2 new glass fusing/ceramic kilns for sale at a very good price and I purchased them … While my mother had taught me a little about fusing glass, I took a private ‘one-day’ class to refresh my memory.

Link to Post: Firebox-8 Kiln Height Extension

This Firebox-8 Kiln’s Temperature is Manually Controlled

Creating Fused Glass artwork is about predicting how it will look when finished semi-melting/fusing together … Thus, having no idea how to predict, I just overlapped interesting colors of broken glass into a pattern.

Cut & Broken Glass in Kiln before 1st Melting

After the first melting the instructor was very let down that the glass had cracked, but being my mother’s son I said, “Oh that makes it even more interesting, lets leave it and do the final melting to fuse it as is” …

Broken Slumped Glass that Broke and Re-Fused in Kiln

The final kiln firing softened the broken edges and created an interesting Fused Glass piece …  I placed it on my dresser and consider it the first of many of my own  ‘imperfection collection’ artwork pieces.

I imagine there will be many future Metal Castings to add to this collection 🙂

First Try and Glass Artwork on My Dresser

In addition to saving imperfect pieces, my mother also would create small pottery pieces that she could use to test out Pottery Glaze formulas …

Mini Glaze-Test Pottery Parts by Pam Marlen

It appears the items my little brother sent to me were part of a Green Glaze test and even these little items had her signature on the bottom.

While I only have test pottery pieces by my mother, I am proud to have those items because that is how I remember her – Always experimenting!!

Bottom of the Green Glaze
Formula Test Pottery by Pam Marlen

She signed all of her Pottery with a PM symbol  (Click images for larger view)

Pottery Signature on Test Glaze items by Pam Marlen

She had shelves of these small glaze-test pottery items in her studio …

A larger piece of pottery that was probably a Green Glaze-Test item

Mary Pamela Smith (Pam Marlen) was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma to E.R. and Mildred Smith on July 31, 1938.
She created most of her artwork in or near Great Falls, Montana.

This looks like a Bowl she used to test some Green Pottery Glaze

The pottery I remember the most as a child was a natural wash look as shown in the image below with hand-touched clay items added to pottery she had thrown on her potter’s wheel.

Natural Glaze with Clay Hard Artwork on Pottery

For years she would make pottery Christmas Ornaments and give them out to friends and family… Many times having us as kids help her.

Received photos of an items my mother made that I had not viewed before …

Hat made for Pat Erickson by Pam Marlen

Pat Erickson sent these photos to me of a hat my mother made for her …

If you enlarge the photo and look closely the bugs on the hat are glass beads.

Hat with Glass Bead Bugs made by Pam Marlen for Pat Erickson

Pat mentioned Pam Marlen made this hat for her birthday 🙂

Hat created by Pam Marlen with Painted leaves & Glass Bead Bugs

Thank You Pat for taking the time to send these photos!! 🙂

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Pam Marlen had a stroke at age 58 in April of 1997 while giving a speech to get donations for the flood victims of the Grand Forks, North Dakota flood of 1997… passing away later in the year.

She lived an interesting life … and myself being a Star Trek fan it was almost surreal to come home to visit and learn her quilting group was asked to be extras in a movie directed by Leonard Nimoy… being very private director he would rarely talk to people on set; however, he would come over talk to my mother about quilting and other artistic items.

My mother met SPOCK …Too Cool!!



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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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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

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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3D-Printer Filament Weight Test

Filament Leftover After the Test

Filament Leftover After the Test

This post is the result of slightly goofing off & experimenting on a Saturday …

3D-Printing a Metal Casting Sand Mold Pattern

3D-Printing a Metal Casting Sand Mold Pattern

I was 3D-Printing a large metal casting pattern for my friend SuperDave and wondered if I would have enough filament on the spool for the remaining parts …

Of course, AFINIA 3D software has a way to stop a print and replace the filament and then continue printing … but sometimes ya just want to use up the last few wraps of filament on a roll and not have to watch the rest of the print.

3D-Printing a Part to Test How Many Wraps of Filament are Required

3D-Printing a Part to Test How Many Wraps of Filament are Required

Got me thinking about all the ABS & PLA filament spools I end up saving with just a few wraps of filament left on the spools … What could I print with them??

This led me to thinking of how it would be nice to know how much I could print if I knew the number of ‘final row’ wraps on a Filament Spool.

Test Part Created with SolidWorks CAD Software

Test Part Created with SolidWorks CAD Software

So I picked the smallest part left to do and decided to try a test …

This part was drawn by SuperDave for one of his metal casting projects …

3D-Printed Split-Patterns with the Aluminum Metal Castings

3D-Printed Split-Patterns with the Aluminum Metal Castings

David and I collaborate on SolidWorks projects whereby I will draw parts I need, and he will draw parts he needs, and if needed I will add features to items …

In this case, I added a few dowel alignment holes before scaling up the part to allow for metal cooling shrinkage after casting.

Then SuperDave will create Sand Molds and pour in molten Aluminum …

AFINIA 3D-Printing Software Showing the Predicted Filament Weight of 14.4 grams

AFINIA 3D-Printing Software Showing the Predicted Filament Weight of 14.4 grams

I opened the part’s .STL file in AFINIA’s 3D-Printing Software and checked to see what the predicted filament (material) weight was …

The software said I would need 14.4 grams plus extra for the printing ‘RAFT’ …

Only Had 17 Wraps of Filament Left on the Spool

Only Had 17 Wraps of Filament Left on the Spool

Counted the wraps left on the spool and decided to find out if I had enough …

Cutting 1 Wrap Length of Filament to Weigh

Cutting 1 Wrap Length of Filament to Weigh

Decided to do the calculation by the number of final filament spool wraps …

I had a previously used spool of filament with just a few wraps left on it, so I cut two separate single wraps and measured the length & weight of the filament …

Have Very Accurate Digital Scales for Weighing Parts I Draw into SolidWorks

Have Very Accurate Digital Scales for Weighing Parts I Draw into SolidWorks

The length of a single wrap is approximately 284 mm …  Next the Weight??

Used a 10 gram Test-Weight to Check the Accuracy of the Digital Scale

Used a 10 gram Test-Weight to Check the Accuracy of the Digital Scale

Pulled out the digital scales and first did a weight calibration on the scales …

Zeroed Out the Scale Prior to Checking Any Weights

Zeroed Out the Scale Prior to Checking Any Weights

Next Zeroed-Out the Scale and cut 1 wrap of filament to fit onto the scale …

I think the correct term is ‘Zero Out’ but I say say ‘Zeroed-Out’ ~ So Whatever

The weight of 1 Wrap of Filament is 1.10 grams

The weight of 1 Wrap of Filament is 1.10 grams

The weight of 1 wrap of PLA filament turned out to be 1.10 grams …

Weight for 2 Wraps for of Filament is 2.19 grams

Weight for 2 Wraps for of Filament is 2.19 grams

For better accuracy, I cut the 2nd wrap and weighed the 2 wraps together …

2.19 grams divided by 2 equals 1.095 grams … ( Close Enough to 1.10 grams )

Used a More Accurate Scale to Double-Check the Filament Weight

Used a More Accurate Scale to Double-Check the Filament Weight

I have a scale that goes to the 0.001 grams so decided to see what it showed …

Weight of 2 Wraps of Filament is 2.200 grams on this Scale

Weight of 2 Wraps of Filament is 2.200 grams on this Scale

2 wraps of PLA filament weigh 2.200 grams on this more accurate scale …

For purposes of this experiment we will call it 1.10 grams per wrap of PLA.

View of AFINIA's 3D-Printing Software Features

View of AFINIA’s 3D-Printing Software Features

Next step was to see if the calculation would work …

For Most 3D-Prints I Restore the Software to it's Default Settings

For Most 3D-Prints I Restore the Software to it’s Default Settings

I used the 3D-Printer’s Default Settings …

First the 3D-Printer Prints a Short Length of Filament to Make Sure Tip is Clear

First the 3D-Printer Prints a Short Length of Filament to Make Sure Tip is Clear

Printer runs a quick ‘Tip Clearing’ run of melted filament prior to printing …

The 3D-Printer Creates a RAFT for the Rest of the Part to Print Upon

The 3D-Printer Creates a RAFT for the Rest of the Part to Print Upon

Next the 3D-Printing Software gives you the option of printing a ‘RAFT’ of filament on the printing bed to help hold the printing part flat & secure …

I use the ‘Raft’ feature on ALL my 3D-Prints … They turn out MUCH better!

 ... Last Wrap and a Half of Filament on the Spool ...

… Last Wrap and a Half of Filament on the Spool and Still Printing …

Had 17 wraps of filament ( 17 x 1.10 grams )  so should be able to print part …

... Down to the Last Half Wrap of Filament on the Spool and Still Printing ...

… Down to the Last Half Wrap of Filament on the Spool and Still Printing …

Only worry I had was the prediction of 14.4 grams did not include the Raft …

... No Filament Left on the Roll when the Print Finished

… No Filament Left on the Roll when the Print Finished

When the print finished, the only filament left was inside the guide tube …

The Finished Test Part with the Raft Material Still Attached

The Finished Test Part with the Raft Material Still Attached

There was enough filament to print the part with a little left-over to spare …

View of Filament Left-over after the Test Print was Finished

View of Filament Left-over after the Test Print was Finished

In the background you can see a little piece of Metal-Art I made several years ago out of scrap metal found in my workshop ~ Called it ‘Boy Offering Flowers’

"Boy Offering Flowers" ~ Welded using Scrap Metal

“Boy Offering Flowers” ~ Welded using Scrap Metal

Once the part was done, decided to check the material weights …

Decided to Check the Final Weight of the Part & the Raft Material

Decided to Check the Final Weight of the Part & the Raft Material

The Part + Raft + Tip Clearing strip weighed in at 17.11 grams …

The Combined Weight of the Test Part & Raft is 17.11 grams

The Combined Weight of the Test Part & Raft is 17.11 grams

Just the Raft & Tip Clearing Strip weighed 2.67 grams …

Raft Filament Material is 2.67 grams

Raft Filament Material is 2.67 grams

17.11 grams minus 2.67 grams = 14.44 grams for the real part weight …

3D-Printing Software’s ‘Predicted Weight’ was 14.4 grams ( Yay ~Very Close )

Checking to See How Close Predicted Weight is to Real-Part Weight

Checking to See How Close Predicted Weight is to Real-Part Weight

The predicted weight included support material so I took that out of the holes and other areas and then checked the final part weight on the scale …

Final Part Weight with support material removed is 14.37 grams.

Finished Part Weight with Holes Cleared out is 14.37 grams

Finished Part Weight with Holes Cleared out is 14.37 grams

I think when it gets down to the final row about 27 wraps fit across the spool.

27 wraps times 1.10 grams = 29.7 grams available to print a part with an approximate additional  1.5 wraps of filament in the guide tube leading into the AFINIA 3D printing head.

Experiment Done and a New Spool of Filament Loaded to Print the Next Part

Experiment Done and a New Spool of Filament Loaded to Print the Next Part

This experiment was really just for the fun of it … However, now when I get down to the final row of wraps on a PLA filament spool I should be able to figure out if I can print a part or not.

Next time I print with ABS I will check the weights and post the results here.

  • CHEERS!!! 


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3D-Printed Under Sink Hooks

3D-Printed Rubber Band Hooks & Rubber Band to Support Shelf Items

3D-Printed Rubber Band Hooks & Rubber Band to Support Shelf Items

Sometimes the simplest little 3D-Printed items are the most helpful …

3D-Printed Tool Holder for Metal Marking Tools

3D-Printed Tool Holder for Metal Marking Tools

For example, a while back I kept losing my Metal Marking Tools on my welding table so 3D Printed a Tool Holder that hangs above the table …

Extra Tips for the Deburring Tool are located in the back of the Tool Holder

Extra Tips for the Deburring Tool are located in the back of the Tool Holder

Since that time, when needed, I have been making lots of 3D-Printed items …

Roll Out Drawer for Under the Kitchen Sink

Roll Out Drawer for Under the Kitchen Sink

BKE ordered a LYNK Roll Out Under Sink Drawer and it works great; however, when you pull out the drawer quickly sometimes items will fall over …

Tipped Over Items in the Roll-Out Drawer Under Kitchen Sink

Tipped Over Items in the Roll-Out Drawer Under Kitchen Sink

Used SolidWorks to designed a quick solution for use with a rubber band …

Screen-Capture of the Rubber Band Hook

Screen-Capture of the Rubber Band Hook

Created a 3D-Printing .STL file and printed the item on the AFINIA Printer …

3D-Printer Software Showing a Pair of Rubber Band Hooks Ready to Print

3D-Printer Software Showing a Pair of Rubber Band Hooks Ready to Print

Installed the 3D-Printed hooks and then attached a rubber band …

Testing the 3D-Printed Rubber Band Hooks to Hold Up Items in Drawer

Testing the 3D-Printed Rubber Band Hooks to Hold Up Items in Drawer

One can tighten or loosen the rubber band by rolling it to the correct tension …

Closer View of the 3D-Printed Rubber Band Hook

Closer View of the 3D-Printed Rubber Band Hook

Rubber band flexes to allow items to be removed from & returned to drawer …

Top-View Showing the Rubber Band Support Holding Items in Drawer

Top-View Showing the Rubber Band Support Holding Items in Drawer

Close-Up view below shows how the hooks attach to the drawer side rails …

Close-Up View of Rubber Band Hook Connected to Drawer Side Rails

Close-Up View of Rubber Band Hook Connected to Drawer Side Rails

Hooks seemed to work so I printed some more to separate items in drawers.

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

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

Close-Up View of 3D-Printed Rubber Band Hooks

Close-Up View of 3D-Printed Rubber Band Hooks



Hair Ties Work Great and Come in Different Colors

Hair Ties Work Great and Come in Different Colors

Found that stretched Hair Ties work great and look better than rubber bands.

Rolled Hair Ties used instead of Rubber Bands

Rolled Hair Ties used instead of Rubber Bands

Also made several Taller Hair Tie Hooks for the Lower Shelves …

Taller Hair Tie Hooks Shown in AFINIA's 3D-Printing Software

Taller Hair Tie Hooks Shown in AFINIA’s 3D-Printing Software

Longer Hair Wraps are used with the taller hooks to reach across lower shelves.

Six of the Longer Hooks after printing on the AFINIA 3D-Printer

Six of the Longer Hooks after printing on the AFINIA 3D-Printer

By rolling the hair ties the bottles slide in and out of the area between the stretched hair ties on each side, because of the slight spring back action …

Longer Hair Ties are used on the Lower Shelves and Short on the Upper

Longer Hair Ties are used on the Lower Shelves and Short on the Upper

It will be interesting to see what the next 3D-Printed project item will be?

3D-Printing Area with an Older Laptop Running the AFINIA 3D-Printer

3D-Printing Area with an Older Laptop Running the AFINIA 3D-Printer

The .STL files for the Hooks can be found on GrabCAD ( Click Here )


Made some even longer 3D-Printed Hooks that hold taller items better …

A Longer & Wider Version Shown in the 3D Printer Software

A Longer & Wider Version Shown in the 3D Printer Software

This new version of Roll-Out Drawer hook is taller & wider and also has a tab which sticks down so the hooks can not slide side to side … In addition, a second lady’s elastic hair band can be attached to the hook.

Longer & Wider Version of Hooks that Use 2 Elastic Lady's Hair Bands

Longer & Wider Version of Hooks that Use 2 Elastic Lady’s Hair Bands

This is all just for the fun of it … The shape of the hooks lets them flex but not break to keep more tension on the bands to better hold items in place.


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