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 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 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.