Dimensional Print Studio


Daltline: 4/11/21

51VssWWk7KL SL1000 Trying to come up with ideas on what to print with my new MSLA printer. I stated before, number one plan is for printing castable items. That is top of the list. I have not yet accepted the reality… well, yes, I have… that the good castable resin costs about $300 per liter. Standard resins are in the $50/liter range.

It’s just hard to imagine paying out that much for jewelry making. Because I charge far too little for my custom work. Pricing an items’ value is only semi relevant to the cost of the metal such as silver. Gold is a different story. The real cost is ALL the materials consumed in casting and the extreme amount of labor for a hand finished piece. 

I have no issue with passing through the cost of production. However, I subsidize myself immensely, as many of my designs are given away as presents by both my spouse and me. That’s not an issue. We do it because we want to. My craft hobby is not intended to put bread on the table.

But recovering materials cost helps keep the hobby going. There is also overhead keeping the books and paying taxes. KautzCraft Studio is a registered business in Texas.

Back to Printing 

What this all implies is the product (the jewelry) must be of the highest quality I can produce. If the use of high cost and quality resin is necessary, then it is just a part of the production costs. The finial sell-price and value must be somewhere above the cost of creation.

The MSLA resin printer can produce acceptable jewelry quality (smooth) master models for casting. Lest expensive resins also print well.  My issues with lower cost casting resins are with obtaining a clean burnoutof the investment in the kiln. With all the pre-work required before casting, anything lower than a 99% casting yield is not acceptable. I am very close to that expectation when doing lost WAX casting. Wax is figuratively the “gold” standard.

I have a good supply of non-castable resins. I will continue designing items not intended for casting. The type of non-castable resins I have are primarily suited for on the shelf “display” prints. Unsuitable for real world structural applications. Stuff I usually call display “Junque” as it is more suitable for looking at than real durable use. 

The resin printing items in the previous post are examples of display only Junque.

A complete set of detailed chess board pieces would be a good example of light to medium duty resin printed objects. One step above fragile display only Junque. There are good uses for MSLA resin printed items. Specialty resins are available for producing strong and durable prints. It is all the makers options of material choice. One size (resin) does not fit all needs.

IMG 0473A second crafting Idea I am considering is one step above jewelry casting. I am thinking of small size cast metal collectables. The cast-brass gnome is one of my first examples. 

Also considering awards and tokens. Things cast of metal are far higher intrinsic value than the plastic original model of the same item.

My thinking is that a 3D printed item can be utilized as the master model in a quality casting, produced by the lost (wax/resin) process.  I see 3D printed item used as an intermediate step rather than the finished product.

My home residential workshop is not suitable for any large-scale foundry-type casting.  I live in a HOA residential neighborhood and a back yard foundry would not receive approval by the HOA-STASI Estate Security Ministry. It is my choice to live here

Of course, this is not the only way 3D printing is presently being used. The only limitation is imagination and suitability of purpose. Three-dimensional printing is not suitable for every end use item. I think about all the options.

Perhaps I could switch to a cast gold standard. The cost of gold will certainly keep the projects and cast items small. I wonder if solid gold is as popular in these times as silver. The items made will certainly have to pay their way into creation. Gold can be plated to a base metal. Yet another process to investigate. I am not headed in that direction at this time.

My Next Step

ZBrush LogiSo what’s next? Whatever I find interesting. I have some professional grade 3D CAD and 3D Graphic software with which I can design almost anything. Pixologic ZBrush is a drawing tool with which I desire to become far more capable. I have used it many times for editing 3D models. Next step is “from scratch” creation of 3D printable models. I will get there as I have already printed a few (very) crude attempts.

ZBrush is a complicated professional level 3D drawing tool. I will get better with practice. So, “what’s next” for me is practice to become more masterful with ZBrush. It is a very good alternative to formal 3D CAD. The organic form in ZBrush is usually more important than exact geometric dimensional accuracy.  However, dimensions are not absent in organic drawing, and precise scale can be maintained.

I think I have made this same “next step” ZBrush decision before. That’s OK. I don’t chastise myself for changes to plan. Life is too short. A plan is just that, a direction to take at a certain point in time. Personal plans can change without pain if I am the only one affected with the change. That’s a freedom of personal choice. If my free will has no effect on others, there are no issues to anyone but myself. I can live with that. 

Where have I put that drawing pad…  ??

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.

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