Dimensional Print Studio


IMG 0186Original designI was kicking back wondering what kind of Three-Dimensional Print project I could design before Christmas 2020. Time is getting short. Whoa! Did I just think about time?

Some folks design and print the operating parts of a CLOCK. But usually, the 3D hobby printing process is a bit crude for fine gear work. I wasn’t thinking of the operational parts inside the clock. I am thinking about the case that contains the clock and the face where the time is displayed. 

The display could be old fashioned round analog dial or digital. I can and probably will design cases for both systems. Analog has a traditional appeal for me.

I figured there were probably dozens of makers of the actual clock mechanisms. A look on Amazon.com proved that was an accurate assumption.

I wanted something for a small case that would be easy to print on one of my smaller 3D printers. I found a series of 70mm analog clocks that simply press fit into a 61mm round opening. Woodworkers use these clock “works” in their wooden-made cases. Certainly, a perfect choice for a 3D Printed case.

I made a few pencil sketches then I fired up my favorite 3D CAD, Autodesk Fusion 360. In short order, I had my design drawn in CAD and out-put to an STL file. The STL file is fed to another computer program, Simplify3D. There it is sliced into hundreds of layers for 3D printing. A new file called G-Code is created by Simplify3D, which is sent to yet another computer in the 3D printer. It’s the G-Code that instructs all the actions the printer performs to make a 3D print.

I have printed five of my original design and purchased clock “works” for all of them. The actual clock (from Amazon.com) is in the $10-$15 range. They are gifts for friends and family. 

I then got really ambitious about clock cases and designed a larger clock for myself. It uses the same “works” as the other clocks. My inspiration was the Texas “Lone Star” logo. This clock maxed out the build surface on my two-color printer. 

All but one of my new small clocks were printed blending two colors of plastic in a two-color single nozzle printer. The Lone Star clock is also two-color print using a 50/50 mix of beige and brown. It required 17 hour 15 minutes to print. I almost ran out of brown filament.

I love the design stage and the 3D CAD as much, probably more than the printing. The creative is in the design drawing and how the computer variables are set to cause the printer to do exactly what the creator / artist desires. 

It’s very technical but if you know me, it’s right up my ally. The actual printing is the results of a lot of advance preparation. A 3D printer is simply an output tool. Same as a text printer. Both printers need the proper input before they produce text or a 3D object.

Hope you find my “time machine” creation story, interesting.

IMG 0107This snowflake is an original KautzCraft design. It is 75mm in diameter. The bottom layer is 3mm high and overall height is 5mm. Designed for a two-color 3D printer. CAD software is Fusion360. Slicer Simplify3D. The 3D printer I am using is the Geeetech A20M, single nozzle, two color.

I had real orange and real pink filament already on the printer, so that became the colors for the first prototype print. Not a realistic snowflake color combo but who says it must be realistic. Certainly, not me…

I have some natural PLA so I swapped that non-color for the pink. First, I printed the snowflake skeleton using the natural. That looked interesting. But I realized the natural should be the base color. A couple of edits in the slicer file and the colors were soon reversed. Software edits are faster and easier than swapping filament spools on the printer.

Much better, but the natural PLA had a bit of orange glow from the orange skeleton. I replaced the orange filament with white and I have the white snowflake look I wanted.

That does not mean I won’t continue to play with other color combinations. The rule is there are no rules.

To display the ornament, there is a small hole at the edge for threading green florist wire through to form a loop or a simple wire wrap.

The center hole could be used for a single LED light, but that was not the intention for the hole. It is simply a decorative detail.

The back side is lightly engraved “Christmas 2020” as a reminder when it was made. Also note: The snowflake “skeleton” is a solid penetration from back to front.

IMG 0109

IMG 3536An excellent use / application of 3D plastic printing is creating replacements for small damaged OEM plastic components.

I have an expensive Kerr Ultra Waxer 2 machine that is an electrically heated hand-held wax carving pen tool. It is used to sculpt wax in model and jewelry making. This is the base unit and services two pens. The empty holes in the top are for storing various shaped tool tips. 

On each side are brackets for placing the hot pen when switching between pens. The brackets are held in place with a single screw and three plastic locating pins through the side of the case.

The machine fell off a small table where I had placed it as I was moving the table. The plastic bracket on the left side shattered from the two-foot fall to the floor.

It’s a small but rather complicated part. I made a sketch and took very careful measurements. I had a flat bottom, and this gave a good reference for locating the pins and holes.

I’ll admit I made two prints. The first one I missed a side pin placement my a few tenths of a millimeter. Easily corrected in Fusion 360 sketch and a new STL file was printed. About 80 minutes at 0.15mm layer and normal speed on my Cetus printer. Material is white PLA.

I gave some consideration to the hot pen storage and using the PLA plastic. I have a good STL file I could print again in ABS if needed. In use the bracket never gets warm. Should not be a problem.

This is evidence that I occasionally use 3D FDM (plastic) printing for practical applications. Not just Junque “stuff”. 


SONY DSCThree-dimensional printing can be far more than printing one-piece Junque trinkets and plastic dragon skulls. <grin>  Here, I go head-to-head with conventional CNC subtractive manufacturing.

I use a CAD/CNC program call Vectric Aspire. Wonderful application for 3D style 3 and 4 axis design and production using overhead routers and milling machines.  This project doesn’t use Vectric Aspire. Rather the user forum for this product generated a 3D print design idea.

A fellow in the “Vectric Design Lab” named Todd created this desk lamp. He uses “subtractive manufacturing” (CNC router) to create his design.  I took one look and decided it would make a good “additive manufacturing” project for 3D printing.

If you open the video from Todd, the first part his microphone is off. Don’t be alarmed about no sound. He figures it out… 

The video is rather long winded for non-Vectric users (and me) but skip towards the end and you can see the finished design. He says to modify and build it any way you want.  So, I did…

My first version is an exact copy of Todd’s design.  I had to dig deep in his Vectric carve files for dimensions. He uses 2D and 2.5D routing so there are no 3D parts. I redrew all parts from scratch in Autodesk Fusion360 (F360) to create 3D models of the components. 

I had to experiment a lot in F360 to get good 7/8-9 thread design to print properly. I made the (prototype) screw knobs round like the original in RED PLA.  Rather ugly.  I called it my clown lamp. I later did three more sets of “bolts” in white with my new original design and using the very nice working 7/8-9 thread I developed in F360. PLA required a 0.040 gap between 1A and 1B dimensions. Thread design in F360 is a whole other topic for another day.

My STL files have the correct threads.

The lamp uses a battery “puck” lamp so there is no line voltage wiring. If you are interested in this design, you can decide alternative electrics if you desire. The head opening is 60mm and uses the “AAA” battery puck lamps of that size. Source Amazon.com.

The lamp is larger than it first looked to me. All parts were printed on the Cetus build platform, so a large printer is not required. Longest part is 6 inches (152.4 mm) The original lamp head nearly maxed out the build height on the Cetus, but the new design should not be an issue for any printer capable of printing the base or arms.

I built the original “Todd” design in white PLA with the red bolt connections. The color combination did not “grow” on me. I was re-designing the lamp and decided the white Ver.1 lamp needed the new design “knobs” in white. I now call it Ver.1.1.

Lamp Ver.2.0 (in black) removes a lot of material from Ver.1.1. I think it is more suitable for 3D additive manufacturing. The open jointed arm is plenty strong for the application. Version one was intended to be a simple project routed from solid wood stock. Todd recommends builders modify his initial design. 

There can be many ongoing variations from my Version 2. The limitation question is: “How may battery lamps does one need?”  I am good at two and hope to give them to someone.  I can always print more if required. No need to build an inventory. 

This lamp is a durable product. Not a minimalist material, lightweight display piece. I don’t try to see how much material I can save when printing.

Printing Specifications

I print at 0.20 mm layer height with (minimum) 3 layers top and bottom. Four would be better. Sidewalls are 0.50 mm print width with a 0.40 mm nozzle. The threaded connector bolts and nuts are printed with five (5) shells (layers) 2.5 mm (total) thick sidewalls. This is to produce good solid threads.

All other parts are three (3) sidewall layers (1.5 mm, total) thick.

Infill on arm components is 50% - 60% for added strength.  Base and lamp head are printed 10% -15% fill. 

PLA plastic is more than adequate strength and prints nice and flat. Feel free to experiment. Exotic materials like carbon fiber are not required but could be a printing brag point… Ha!

Other Design and Application Ideas

The head with puck light design can be used with a smaller base with no arm links. Just the two short stubs. Could be a good accent light for seasonal decorations. The puck lights can be purchased with colored LEDs and will produce many colors and variations as well as remote control.

The pucks are also made in various diameters. The larger use AA batteries for longer life. There are also low voltage A/C wired puck lights for more permanent lighting use.  Variations on this theme are many.

Download STL files


Version 1, Exact copy of CNC version. Gaudy red knobs!  All the printed parts. Red knobs replaced next day.
IMG 3410 IMG 3407
 Original head maxes out Cetus print height.  Base maxes out Cetus build plate at 6 inches dia..
 Version 1.1 with improved joint knobs  Version 2.0 Nice improvement IMHO!


The new design (Ver 2.) looks less like assembled from 2x4 lunber. I am happy with both. Puck lights can have other uses. Some of them can randomly change color and would be great for holiday decorative lighting. A base and head (no arm) could be used for decorative up-lighting. Many ways to use the lights and 3D printing.

2020 Show and Tell

IMG 24743D Printed Table DecorationsThis is my latest design/build project. First for the new 2020 year and new decade. 

The CAD used is Fusion 360. Not bragging-up F360, but it got the job done. Since I am using a free “Startup” version, I can’t complain too much. It does have quite a few weaknesses and this project crashed several times while refining the lofting. I like the F360 workflow and the price (free). So, it’s not a perfect CAD, but (again) gets the job done.

Enough about the CAD. This is about the project.

My printer is a 2 color Geeetech A20M. Single nozzle color blender type extruder. This allows me to blend two filament colors while printing. A free software application called (Duh?) Colormixer is available from Geeetech. I can control the mix between 2 (or 3 if I had them) colors as the filaments flow through the single extruder. (Single nozzle extruders only!)

I used Simplify 3D for the slicing. The project STL is sliced as if using a single color, then the gcode file is passed through the Colormixer app where the color variations are added to the gcode. The end results are what is seen here.

I enjoy the color control and as shown, adds a lot of pizazz to a 3D printed item. The two colors are dark green and a dark (fire engine) red. Christmas colors. The blending moves from solid (100%) of green to solid (100%) of the red. The between color is a fabulous brown shade.

The small bowls (candle holders) are 50% reduction of the large (original size) bowl. Remember, a 50% 3D reduction decreases volume by eight (8).

The candles were designed (F360) to fit the small bowls and hold the tea lights. The white candles are printed on my “MamaCetus” Tiertime Cetus mini printer. The color candle on (of course) the A20M.

IMG 2462 IMG 2476
Two version of the small holder Muliti color candle version
IMG 2463  
Large base on A20M.  Starting at solid green.  


Copyright © TEDatum Publishing . All Rights Reserved.