ATR: Ramping Up 3D Printing

Disruptive Making In Sight?

If you’re an adventurer, time to put “another one on the pile.”

Since I’ve done so much in life already (multiple careers, kids, sailing, flying, inventing, computering, writing, webbing, building, metalwork, solar, engineering, broadcasting, scuba, turning…well, the list goes on for a while…) it’s NOT like there’s any shortage of things to do around here…

But, since there’s  magnificence in Madness (and mine  is considerable) it became clear that one more hobby couldn’t possibly hurt, could it?

Today, we launch our first “Build Companion” over on the stealthily developed website.

Thing is, 3D printing have become very affordable.  And since a printer only weighs 20-pounds, or so, it’s not like there are a ton of barriers to people of all age groups getting involved.

This could easily turn into my  second most favored  hobby.  After ham radio.

The reason is ham radio offers a bit more “randomness experience” than 3D printing.

In other words, when you go over to and start looking up designs, there’s hardly any “randomness” to what’s going to happen:

  1. You download the 3D (usually .stl) file.
  2. That gets extracted to it’s readable.
  3. You then “slice it” into what your printer likes to print.
  4. You pick the color of filament to print.
  5. Pre-heat the printing bed and extruder.
  6. Hit print from…
  7. Then go away for 1 to 12 hours while the printer does its work.
  8. When you come back, the print comes off the machine, any flashing is touched up.
  9. And you’re done.

Yes, you too can own a $200 unit to make $2 plastic parts….  But there is some logic to it…

Randomness In Hobbies

Not sure why people are attracted to randomness, so deeply.  

You take one of my favorite pastimes (pre-Covid) when casinos were open.  I could play most of the evening on a $100-bill.  Sometimes coming out with $600+.  Other times coming out with enough “free drinks” in us to make $100 seem like a decent tip for the free hooch.

So randomness is obvious in gambling.

It’s less so in fishing and hunting, but there when you look closely, nevertheless.

Whether that 12-point you’ve been putting corn out for all year comes by your deer stand is a matter of chance.  Unless you’re shooting a Barrett .50, in which case, if the deer happens into the same county.

Same with fishing.  You know there are some “lunkers” down at one end of the lake, but will they be biting on single-eggs, or will they be up on the surface where a dry fly (and a whole other type of fishing) would be more effective. (I gave away the fishing gear after 10-years of sailing.)

I’ll spare you by lecture on using 4-sugar cubes and a rubber band for single-egging.  We pioneered that when I was a kid and Pappy serious about catching the boat’s weight in fish every year.  Many years we did, occasionally including the oars and outboard to boot!

The Random Radio Bands

This being the Texas White Tail deer opener this weekend, I’ve been focusing on DX (long-distance) work on the 20 and 15-meter ham bands.  Conditions were good Saturday.

There, just like tossing bait out to fish (chumming) you’ll sometimes put out a call in the general direction of somewhere “interesting” (eastern Europe, for example) to see what’s coming in.

Other times – more in the hunting vein – you’ll hear some exotic faraway place and “stalk” that station.  All you’re after is a signal report exchange and confirmation for whatever award you’re interested in.

There’s very little of this kind of “randomness” when it comes to 3D printing…

Unlimited Creativity Matters

Both hobbies – ham radio and 3D printing (and we could toss in recording in our studio while we’re at it) involve gobs of creativity.

Where 3D gets interesting is when you start working on and coming up with your own designs.

As you may remember, I came up with a new improved-performance antenna system recently.  And I am debating how to reduce that to a 3D printable file to share with others.

You see, there are still “issues” in 3D – it’s a science but – like music and ham radio – wide open areas for “judgment calls” on the practitioner’s part.

For example, the spacers along the length of the antenna are easy tro render in 3D.  BUT, the ends become structural.  And since this is a heavier antenna than many, maybe it would be preferable to just leave well-enough alone.  Last thing I need to some squad of lawyers screaming “Product liability!”

Our Hobbies Reveal Us

Many times I’ve mentioned the Gregorc C Style Delineator (described deeper in an article over here).  It’s one of the reasons Elaine and I get along so well.

When we were dating (circa 2000) I was still in Higher Education, so we both did the Style Delineator.  What we found was that we are just about perfectly symmetrical.  Ideal partners. That means about equal parts of concrete random, concrete sequential, abstract random, and abstract sequential in our thinking.

Since we had both been previously married (twice!) we wanted to see how close we could find someone to match our own thinking styles.  (It was us!)

The problem now?  (It’s minor, but expensive!)

We like to do everything.

Which is how we ended up in a double-wide in the woods.  Because it was the only place we’d have room for all the shop hobbies (wood, metal, now plastic printing, plus jewelry, plus have a room for writing, gym for working out or walking, electronics lab, recording studio, and on and on…

My (lame-ass) justification for 3D printing is that it will “fit into” a lot of our other interests.

(Umm…trying to think of an illustration.)

You know how when you have a cup of cornflakes and put a cup of milk on it, the result is not 2 cups, but more like a cup and a third?

That’s how I’m figuring 3D will fit.  It’s an augmentation of existing hobbies.  Like air conditioning, but more solid?

Let’s say I need something that’s a ham radio part (the front waterproof panel gasket for my Icom M-700 marine SSB for 60-meters which is a channelized band) and it’s totally unobtainable. Courtesy email from Icom Service to prove it.   Now I can print the gasket on the larger printer using thermal poly urethane  (TPU) – a rubbery material.  Emboss it with my call sign?  (A bit gauche, but WGAS, right?)

If Elaine wants to make faux wrought iron corner accents for decorating the (movie studio-like sets) in the house?  Well, 3D will do that, too.

If she needs some doo-dad for painting or drawing, they may be printed. Want to tinker with a spirograph?  Easy print.

And if the starter gear goes out on my Briggs and Stratton V23 lawn tractor motor electric starter?  Yeah, baby….hand me that roll of ABS, would ya?

Before Going to Ultra-Make

A few more points about 3D as our latest delusion:  In fact, I will hold it to 3 simple ones.


You can buy a 3D printer at almost any complexity level you like.  Here’s a SainSmart Ender 3.  About 50% assembly needed.  On the plus side, it was a $169 flash deal from Amazon Woot! earlier this year.

This is the second layer of stuff-in-the-box.


You need patience.  OK, it’s a weekend.  Beer and patience, then.

A print like the one going here can take 4-hours to complete.

Bigger prints can take 12-16 hours on the larger format printer.


Hobbies are like drugs and potato chips as we figure it.

Betcha can’t have just  one.

(I should have put in black filament for the top couple of layers, but a marking pen for the colors gives you the idea. “What, that Ure lazy???”  Shhh…)

If you’re not bored by now, click over to here as we offer a lot more background and lay out some work flows on the Ultra-Make site here.

Write when you make something besides money,

31 thoughts on “ATR: Ramping Up 3D Printing”

  1. I have a silly question…..
    I have a CriCut…..
    what is nice is .. I can take a template or a photo then log into my account on the website lay it out with their tools .. then cut out my design…
    load the paper or material and it will cut out my template.. pretty nice..
    I have been thinking about a 3D printer.. but wonder is there a program that is pretty much click and go.. or does a person have to go to cad school before hand…
    It would be nice if there was a click and play program similat to the cricut..

      • My wife is going to shoot me when the new toy comes..Or maybe a slow nagging death LOL.. LOL LOL LOL….I want one that has a nice big bed though.. it would be nice if a person could use a router with it to do do accurate cutouts..and contours..

        • Here’s why I went with a small ($200 class) CNC router (Genmitsu 3018 pro type):
          The 3D printer likes to be clean. A CR10 V2 is about $500 and will get you a build area of 12″ square by 15 high roughly). V3 is better – has direct filament drive -but just a note in passing there.
          Thing is, the cnc machines create dust and dirt. I’m setting the CNC up on one side of the shop (near the belt sander and hoses to the air handling dust collection) and the 3D on the other. For now under big bags – eventually fancy cases.
          Having said all that, you can find an adapter for it, but I’d keep the machines separate. Also, no tool change time wasted

    • You definitely do not need to go to “CAD school” to get value or if a 3d printer, but learning CAD is now easy enough that nearly anyone can and should do it.

      There are 3 main styles of CAD tools available for different mindsets (4 if you want to stretch it).

      Parametric modeling is where you draw a 2D shape with measurements (a 4″ square, a 2mm circle, a 5′ rectangle with one side having a 1m semicircle with an 8″ circle in the middle) and finish with a third demensional action; extrude an inch to add material, cut 1′ to remove that shape from an existing object. Add additional sketches and actions and you have an object. OnShape, Autodesk Inventor, FreeCAD, or Fusion360 are all options. Personally, I do parametric. Similarly, (I think) TinkerCAD, MS Paint3D, and SketchUp used 3D objects (cubes, spheres, cylinders) to build objects. Many people start with one of these.

      Next is for the potentially more artistic; 3D sculpting. Just like real sculpting, you start with a basic shape (cube, sphere, etc) and using different shaped tools, add, remove, pull, or push material into your desired shape. This is primarily used to make creatures, faces, characters, or organic shapes. ZBrush, Blender, and Maya are examples of 3D sculpting CAD tools.

      Finally, if describing your object using specific terms and syntax is more your style, programmatic CAD tools might be more your style. Similar to parametric design tools, but done textually, one can describe an object using terminology similar to a programming language. One major benefit of this style is that many websites allow these kinds of models to be shared with custom measurements. Something like a drawer handle with a user specified width, or a desktop name placard with user specified text. OpenSCAD is the only programmatic tool I know of offhand, but I know there are others.

      Just like any hobby, there is always room to grow and improve, but many people can get by with very simple and rudimentary CAD skills..

  2. “If Elaine wants to make faux wrought iron corner accents for decorating the (movie studio-like sets) in the house? Well, 3D will do that, too.”

    What if she wants to make real wrought iron accents?

    If’fn you can melt the iron, you can use the 3D piece to make a sand mold, or make a “casting negative” out of any casting or potting medium, to then make a bunch of sand molds…


      Ray… I had to have some parts made for an old cook stove.. you couldn’t buy them anywhere.. I made up some cardboard box parts that fit and then sent them to tomahawk.. great place prices definitely cheaper than you can make them at home.. super people to work with.. and the quality of their workmanship.. wow..

  3. Hey George, I was in meditation and I saw a wherehouse full of votes for Trump. Like and piles and piles. I some how jumped a day I didn’t know it was Sunday. I thought today was Saturday when went to meditate. I have never jumped a day. I don’t know how long I was meditating for. Couldn’t have been a while day. Idk.

    I was thinking about the elephant in the room nobody was talking about and as I slipped into that inbetween awake and asleep state, it occurred to me a while back that I read Trump had bought an old post office at some point in the past. then all the sudden I was standing in a werehouse and I could look around but nobody saw me and there was armed guards and big box trucks and all piles and piles of these bags that had mail in votes. All open and had the little line drawn with a pen over to Trump. Not one for Biden. All Trump votes from what I saw.

    Yesterday I volenteered over the VA and I was sorting boxes of hangers for clothing. Tons and tons of them.. I must have sorted 4000 hangers each according to their kind. Sometimes in Meditation I see nothing of value and soemtimes it’s just feelings I get and soemtimes it is super HD clarity. Occasionally I see some semblance of a task I performed early that week and everything is an abstract of what I was doing that week in some symbolism that I have to try to make sense of.

    That was Friday or at least I thought and some how I jumped to Sunday when I came out of my meditation and I just kept thinking this is Armasist day. The day I go live on my sight.

    So I went to look when it was as Armasist day. And that is Monday and noticed today was Sunday. Which I thought. How the hell did I jump a day.

    The vision I had of all the Trump votes was super super HD. Like I feel myself breathing.

    And I thought, Someone needs to know about this. And I got all paranoid. I never get paranoid in meditation. Then someone said send in the trucks. We have to get these all over to that abandon wherehouse that the Bidens own. I thought what the hell is going on. Then another fella said, the world is gonna shit there pants when they find out over 2 million votes for Trump were hidden in a wherehouse that is related to the Bidens.

    Trump’s a mastermind. He is gonna just destroy those Main Stream media idiots.

    Then I got the sense that this whole count vote shit show was a sting operation on deep state preformed by Trump to see who was loyal and who was really deep state. That he stashed his own votes to root out who was really the bad guys working against america in the government. To find out who all the bad players were. And that once they knew? All them voted would be discovered for Trump in a werehouse owned by either the Cinton’s or the Bidens. And that all would happen on Armasist day.

    And the Main Stream media whore would never be trusted again. There credibility would be completely gone. Even got the liberals because 2 million votes in bags being discovered would rock the nation.

    Rarely do I see that perfect clarity in a vision. Like I’m actually in the place. I was because I was meditating. And I don’t think I have ever had it be so real that I dodnt remember what day of the week it was when I came out of Meditation. It was disorienting.

    That is just what I saw. And I saw it as I remembered that Trump bought an old Post Office before he became president.

    Then I remember that book about Baron Trumphs time machine written in the 1800s.. because Trump bought that post office long before he ran for president the first time.

    So I guess we will see if that is the Elephant nobody is taking about. And if my vision pans out. Not sure. I have honestly never had one so detailed. If it happens it blow the Dems out of the water and be the biggest scandle that has ever happened in the USA. And I remember that dude I saw shoot another dude on the House floor and I saw Nancy Faint again the other day. And I don’t know how or if any of that fits.

    Sorry so long. Just what I saw.

    • Many things will bring that about wishful thinking or mushrooms ,for the sting operation that’s all over the net was planted there by the Trump people, and if the CIA is involved then its a dead horse from the gate for the only thing they are good for are coups and killing sitting presidents.Trump will go one way or another kicking and screaming being dragged out by his heels or leave with some dignity,and it will be the later.!!!

    • Andy…you don’t need to meditate to see what is right in front of your eyes. Trump likes to project. So, to use the theory of Occums Razor…what is more likely…75 million people and growing, realize that they were being governed by the dumbest human in world political history And voted his orange face out, or there somehow were 70 million people that thought having a dumbsh*t as President was a good idea for another 4 years. If anything, the fake ballots were from the Trump side. Trump has a tell…and that tell is his projection…He has been doing it his entire life. His daddy taught him, because Donald wasn’t smart Or talented enough to back up his claims, he had to lie and cheat to get there. Read Mary Trumps book. 70 million votes? I refuse to believe America is that dumb.

      • There’s a worse than this possibility: Both sides are crooked to the core and are merely following calls from off-stage by a globalist cult. And, since Americans are being “managed into lockdowns” the preconditioning is managed below the perception threshold of most.
        Which is why – every morning before I write a word – I ask “What planet am I on today?”
        Sounds absurd, but when you do this, you’ll see the ebb and flow of public manipulations and it will become clear that yes, people (r’s and d’s alike) are blind-sided by a much larger game in play.
        For the next 75-odd days, I will be looking at this whole screwed up mess and a latter day iteration of the gang warfare of the late 1920’s. Playing, oddly, in the same towns as then.
        There is such a rhythm to it all…
        Remember the lyrics? “Nobody’s right, but everybody’s wrong”? “Stop children, what’s that sound, everyone look what’s going down…”
        I have been telling people for 20-years to live with “one foot out the door…” That’s the only genuine “urban survival” plan. Plan B is as independent in all aspects of life possible including food and making repairs on the things we can and dispersing manufacturing unto ourselves.

      • Oh this will blow over the Trumpster’s will hang around for a while but like the Reagan cult they too will disappear,until another one will come along selling his own special brand and the people will be drawn to that like a moth to a flame, and it will be a few years before they see just how much damage he did to the country.

        Will Biden be any better hell no for that’s already baked into the cake,oh the Russia,China,Iran bashing will probably pick up,like with Trump you won’t hear any of the important things being discussed like health care,infrastructure,job creation,education and rapid transit,AI or G6 because that money will still go to the MIC for projects that well don’t really work that well,so just settle down things aren’t really going to change that much.!!!!

      • “managed into lockdowns” the preconditioning is managed below the perception threshold of most.
        Which is why – every morning before I write a word – I ask “What planet am I on today?”

        Speaking about that George.. went in to get banana’s.. anyway .. the store manager was telling me that they are the last place in town that still has some toilet paper .. the shelves looked like they had been cleared and the boys in the backroom were busy stocking with what they had just gotten off of a truck..
        CostCo went through three forty foot trailers of toilet paper.. three.. that is a roll or two.. and the vegetable isle was cleaned out.. I was going to get some meat but decided not to..
        My thought is..IF.. the who and cdc say lock down then there will be the country lock down and rationing. what was funny though is on the way home on the radio there was a news announcement that one of the major pharmaceuticals say they have an affective vaccine.. ok.. where did that come from all of a sudden.. and how do you make a vaccine for a virus that mutates as fast as this one does..

  4. Trump is posting on Gab:
    He is serious about contesting the election results in a lot of states.

    I’m thinking a Gab channel would suit you as well. You could use your website to organize and store reference material, and use Gab as your place to post your usual stream of conscious posts. With Trump posting on Gab, that gives the forum more credibility in some quarters.

    • Trumps own wife and Jared Kushner are asking Trump to concede. The leaks within the White House are rampant as they all want to be released from the shackles of this corrupt as hell President. I have the perfect venue for that. Maybe he and Rudy the Rat can RE-book the parking lot of that Philly Landscaping business…( convenient for Rudy to visit the porn shop across the street) and finally concede. Maybe even a one on one interview with Borat can follow . It would be an appropriate ending to the laughingstock sh*t show we and the rest of world had to endure for the past 4 years.

      • “Trumps own wife and Jared Kushner are asking Trump to concede. ”

        Having to endure the unlimited attacks that they did the last three plus years.. I would be begging him to concede..
        Unfortunately He doesn’t take loosing very well.

      • Looking…you left out a word on your response.

        It should have read..
        Having to endure the unlimited JUSTIFIED attacks that they did the last three plus years..

      • “Having to endure the unlimited JUSTIFIED attacks”

        Possibly…. OTFLMAO.. we will never know for sure Mark…

        It is what it is.. the president has been picked now we wait and see what is to come.. I respect the office of the presidency and I will totally support the candidate that the country has picked.. I think Kamala is actually doing what she feels is right.. I still think the drug addict sadistic pedophile kid should be punished for what he has done to his Niece and the contents of his hard drive…( He won’t they probably will make him the director of a national daycare or something just to rub in in everyone’s face. a photo of him sitting in a chair with a book a couple of kids on his lap and kids sitting all around him. A photo like that would paint a pretty convincing photo of him as a good guy to sell to the masses….) but it is what it is.. we live with it.. it was America’s choice from two of the best of the best that this country has to offer us… and our lives move on.. we will see soon enough just what he has planned for us..

      • Come writers and critics who prophesy with your pen
        And keep your eyes wide the chance won’t come again
        And don’t speak too soon for the wheel’s still in spin
        And there’s no telling who that its naming
        The Loser now will be later to win
        For the times they are a’changing
        Bob Dylan

  5. George

    ” Last thing I need to some squad of lawyers screaming “Product liability!” ”

    I wonder how many products died a’borning because of lawyers?

    I had one. It was of a personal pleasure type. I had spotted a market gap and saw a way to fill it.

    I had prototype parts in casting wax, a microprocessor circuit board and 5200 line of C code plus 25 AutoCad drawings. I was well on my way to a unique product with safety of the user the number one goal.

    Then I started seeing the ads on TV from the slip and fall lawyers. I packed up my project in a box where it sits to this day. I realized that no matter how safe your product was someone will sue you! The profit to loss ratio on my product could not withstand that.

    Shakespeare got it right, “First we kill all the lawyers” !

  6. The problem with 3D printing is “economies of scale”.

    3D printing is OK for a one off production run, maybe even a five off production run, but it never can compete even closely with the 50,000 unit off production run or 10,000,000 off production run.

    Need a specialized part that is made in very limited quantities already or for a part that can’t be shipped to you? … 3D printing can be not just good but your savior (think about needed part at the Antartic Research Station during the 3-4 months that aircraft can’t land there, forget about the ships – or a part needed on a navy ship when it is at sea).

    In real life think about all the parts that go into a counter top “Coffee Maker”. I can buy a basic one at Krogers today for under $10, or a really nice Mr. Coffee, with heater off timer, clock, and that has better temperature control so the coffee is better, for $25. Does anyone think that they could fabricate up even a basic one of those 3D printing intheir own shop for under $10? (not even counting the time that the person making it would have to put into setting up the printer for making all the different parts so in the end they would have a working coffee maker).

    3D printing is an AMAZING development. GE is using it extensively for the manufacting of parts for it’s new turbin engine for turbo prop airplanes. The use of the complex parts that are makable via 3D printing, which were NOT makable via traditional manufacturing processes, is cutting the parts count for those new, and more efficient than anything out there, GE engines by more than 80% (though they are way over budget and several years behind in getting the engine actually certified for aircraft use). How many of these engines will GE be making a year? Under a thousand a year at full production … first 3 years or so probably 100 per year or less.

    For everyday products “economies of scale” still rule and I do NOT see anything in the foreseeable future (next 40 years) where 3D printing can operate with the economies and efficiencies of mass manufacturing for products that involve many tens of thousands of units.

    • “3D printing is OK for a one off production run,”

      What I like about 3D printing.. I had a part to a mixer.. the mixer was awesome NINJA.. paid a good penny for it..anyway .. the kids made some salsa and didn’t add any fluid to it and broke the piece on the bottom.. the screw pins.. ( never run a blender dry.. with solids.. ) anyway.. they changed the format for the bottom pin.. ( to save money and changing it just slightly means you buy another one) now the replacement part for it was eighty bucks and shipping.. with a 3d printer and scanner.. print up the piece and move on..( do that two or three times and you just paid off the equipment)
      How many times does that happen.. all the time for me at least….

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