A non woodworking tool that already paid for itself in cost savings.

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  • A non woodworking tool that already paid for itself in cost savings.

    I know I have talked about the 3D printer a bit, mostly because I am having fun making stuff, but I just wanted to put some perspective out there.

    The printer I got is the Voxelab Aquila, not an expensive unit at all at $160.00 ish on sale, and of course filament.

    I have been knocking projects out trying to tidy up the house and finish installations for doo dads. Specifically my Echo Dots, get them off of table tops and such, replace the missing / broken mount for one of my security keypads, my WiFi mesh routers, My cable modem (I am doing a dual WAN setup as I work from home and need absolute reliability). And a couple of gift items, most notably the PS4 controller and headset stands (x4 of them).

    I got to looking at what these items cost purchased commercially and found something interesting, I am actually saving money.

    The PS4 controller / headset stands are currently averaging depending on the design about $20.00, for the really nice molded shape stuff like what I printed though, they go for $35.00 each. So $35.00x4 $140.00 just in PS4 controller / headset stands. Merry Christmas to certain family members! Yeah I know early...

    The 3rd Generation Echo Dot Tie Fighter stand (my wife and younger brother in law are huge Star Wars fans) x2 are going literally with the design I printed for $59.99 each $10.00 shipping, so figure these at $70.00 each, or another $140.00

    Eero Pro 6 WiFi mesh router wall / ceiling mounts. There are a LOT of designs, I did not want one that attached to the power / wall plate. Comparable ones are available on AliExpress not even gonna look at shipping, but they go for $35.99 so round the pennies and call 2 of them $72.00

    3 more basic, clean Echo Dot 3rd generation wall mounts. And 2 basic, clean Echo Dot 2nd generation wall mounts. These are cheaper than the others, but they go for $6.00 each, So another $30.00

    The Motorola MB8600 cable modem wall mount. Not really commercially available, couldn't find one except on Etsy and that maker wants $20.00 after shipping...

    The mortiser chisel caps, which simply put, is not available anywhere so I would have had to rigged something up. Not a good option...

    Lastly, The BT3x00 SMT fence caps. I believe they sell for something like $10.00 after shipping on Ebay. So $20.00 for 2.

    So let's look at what I have in costs total so far.

    Printer $160.00
    3 spools filament $60.00
    Total $220.00

    Total value of products printed out $422.00

    Yes, for several of the items there are cheaper alternatives, but there is a certain, look, and feel I am going for, some items are just copies of existing stuff I.E. the miter fence end blocks.

    This does not include the save of the security keypad and the mortising chisels which IF the parts were avaialble would likely be cheap, but still add up...

    Oh one last item I printed out before the order got cancelled. Raspberry Pi 4B full case with mount tabs. I want / need to run local DNS for "Daves.LAN" sort of stuff, and wanted to use Pi Hole DNS for its add blocking. I really don't want to dedicate the power needed for a regular desktop / server running Ubuntu so I ordered a Raspberry Pi 4B 8GB, printed this out, and then got the notice the Pi was out of stock for the forseeable future. Rats!
    Last edited by dbhost; 07-13-2022, 11:38 AM.
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  • #2
    Following .....

    I want to get into 3D printing too. So trying to learn. Will like to follow your progress. Thanks for sharing.


    • #3
      I was really hesitant to start because I had kind of assumed 3D printing being a new technology was going to be stupid expensive and complicated. It shockingly enough isn't, except for the 3D design part.

      The process is prettty simple, Make, or obtain your 3D design that is within the limits of your printer, You can't print for example an object that is 400mm wide on a 200mm wide printer bed, export it in STL format, (STL stands for STereoLithography),

      You then take that stl file and import it into a piece of slicer software. Slicing basically takes the 3D design and converts it into the commands the printer uses to print the object, including options such as supports, adhesion aids etc...

      The slicer softare I am using and everyone seems to be recommending is Ultimaker Cura https://ultimaker.com/software/ultimaker-cura

      There is a guy on youtube that tells you how to do all of this. 3D Print SOS, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=is89...nel=3DPrintSOS
      He shows a custom printer profile for the Voxelab Aquila, the Aquila is for all intents and purposes the same exact printer as the Creality Ender 3, and you can use the Ender 3 profile with no problems, and that is exactly what Voxelab support told me to do.

      Voxelab does have their own slicing software, Voxelmaker, but honestly, the results are not as good as with Cura...

      I've done a good number of prints now with various iterations and found a common problem with 3D printers is build surface, or bed adhesion. Simply put, the first layers on the bed don't stick properly and the whole thing gets ruined because of it. There are printer settings that Voxelab recommended, Print head / extruder temp of 200 deg C, print bed temp of 60 deg C, and cooling fan speed of 50%, and use rafts in the slicer software.

      A trick folks recommend for adhesion is to use the purple disappearing school glue on the print bed. I have not had any luck with that...

      I worried a bit about wasting / creating plastic waste, But before I jumped on the 3D printing bandwagon and found that the main type of filament / plastic I am using, PLA, is plant based, biodegradeable, and compostable. It is literally plastics made with bio waste from I believe it is corn and sugar cane.

      I have done a lot of looking around on these and yes PLA is fine and durable for certain applications where long term water or soil exposure are not going to be present as those are the keys needed for the composting...

      Anyway, with what I have laid out here, including the links to 3D print SOS and a hearty recommendation of the Aquila as a starter printer, and for me it might be all I ever really need, I believe you've got the info you need to get started.

      If you get stuck on anything let me know. The documentation on the printer itself aside from how to set it up is actually pretty bad or downright lacking, things I think are obvious might not be to everyone... Different perspectives and all...
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      • #4

        Thanks for the overview, it was quite informative.

        I looked into 3D printing about seven or so years ago and left a bit confused by all the hype of the time. There were so many YouTube video's hyping equipment that simply did not exist or never came to fruition. Many were great, even showing equipment at trade shows, meetings, etc., but when you looked into actually buying it, they weren't on the market or claimed delays; and, they were several hundred or even thousand dollars. Now, I see the prices are down to a few hundred.

        From my interest back then I was more interested in printing materials like nylon or more durable plastics than PLA. A few years ago I worked with another forum member to come up with an SMT slide design. He came up with a really nice design and printed several in PLA. They were pretty nice and certainly useable but the PLA print though quite useable, looked a little rougher than I'd want for other projects. Recently I saw a fellow on another forum print some tool holders that appeared to be quite smooth and almost 'commercial' looking.

        So while the printers have come way down in price, today I'm facing software pricing, which seems ridiculous compared to just a couple of years ago, when I used Google Sketchup and Autodesk 360, both free at the time. Now we're looking at several hundred dollars for SketchUp and frankly, since this would be a hobby like my now-retired interest as a Technical Illustrator, I simple can't justify that kind of expense. (Software now cost several times more than the 3D printer itself.)

        Still, I have the interest but I'm thinking that maybe at my age (two weeks to 78 yrs old), I should not buy another thing that someone will have to get rid of.

        I'll be watching this thread though, Thanks,

        Think it Through Before You Do!


        • #5
          I am still using the free version of Sketchup 2017 and have no intention of changing before it becomes unusable. The free version of Sketchup now is horrible by comparison. I don't have the time to learn yet another package at this time, but once I finalize my RHCE for RHEL 8, and my AWS Architect certs I will dive into FreeCAD. I have played with FreeCAD a bit and at least some of the tools work exactly like Sketchup, but it is not the same...

          Honestly, if Trimble would charge a more reasonable fee for solo use / hobby use I would stick with Sketchup, but their fees are stupid high now... And what makes me madder, a huge part of what brings value to Sketchup is the 3D warehouse, that I contributed mightily to over the years...

          The Aquila and Ender 3 both are highly extensible, and there are hot ends / extruders available for Nylon printing as well. I believe the Aquila / Ender 3 will both print PLA and ABS just fine, it's when you get to Nylon that you need to achieve higher temps than the extruder can achieve.

          Again check out 3D Print SOS as he has a few videos on printing nylon on the Aquila...

          And yes, PLA does print with a certain stripey look, but it doesn't bother me at all. YMMV...
          Last edited by dbhost; 07-14-2022, 01:51 PM.
          Please like and subscribe to my YouTube channel. Please check out and subscribe to my Workshop Blog.


          • #6
            My son has been doing 3D printing at work since the technology came into commercial use. He does stuff in all sorts of materials now. His Harley has a bunch of custom printed parts that he designed with CAD. My neighbor recently bought a 3D printer as his son does it as a business in France. My neighbor has been bringing me things he prints out from designs he finds on the internet. He's making custom beer tap handles for a micro brewery here. They were so popular, the brewery owner is now selling them in their pub. That's gonna pay for the printer and supplies pretty quickly.
            Jim Frye
            The Nut in the Cellar.
            ”Sawdust Is Man Glitter”


            • #7
              Pretty sure it will. And to be honest, I am having fun doing this because, well the shop is too hot to work in right now. Plus I can print out things that help me organize / repair items in the shop....
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              • #8
                Working on the build plate adhesion issues. Reprinting where the Tie Fighter Echo Dot holder glitched a bit. Thoroughly scrubbed the build plate and reinstalled, re-levelled the build plate, the corner that was having the biggest adhesion issues was a shave lower than the other 3, got it all levelled up, And ran the build plate and extruder temps up by 5 deg C. Changed the adhesion support type to brim instead of raft, no joy.

                So that was a bust.

                I am not going to give up until I get the adhesion issue solved, I might change to one of the flexible metal plates. Something....
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                • #9
                  I have the Creality Ender3D printer, bought it a bit over a year ago and like dbhost, have been finding it so useful - it's like one of those tools you get and can't figure out how you ever got along without it.
                  Some of the stuff I have done with mine:
                  • wall art when I first got it to see what it could do
                  • Various fairy garden items for the grand-daughters (which they have loved having)
                  • A 'lot' of reloading items
                  • Various wrench and socket holders to organize things in the shop and garage
                  • Custom drill/driver brackets for hanging the tools above the workbench
                  • Electrical wall-plate spacers for outlets in the new place we bought that were not done correctly (ended up having to print 3 different depth spacers)
                  • Curved card holders for card games that have you trying to hold too many cards in one hand
                  • A ton of other do-dads.....
                  And just this morning, I found a model to print a replacement for the lens release button on one of my Pentax DSLR's that had somehow popped off and got lost.
                  According to others in a Pentax forum, it costs around $200+ to send the camera in and have a replacement installed (granted, a factory replacement is guaranteed to be waterproof - but this camera is not the one I use in bad weather conditions).
                  Printed the button, popped it into place - works like a charm! That alone almost paid for the printer.

                  As far as plate adhesion, the best thing I have found so far is to buy a cheap hairspray (with the least amount of odor possible). Wash the plate with warm water, allow to dry, spray an even coat of the hairspray, allow to dry (I put it on the bed and have the bed heat it up to speed up drying).

                  If you have a few smaller parts to print, staggering their location on the bed with the slicer software will allow you to do multiple prints between hairspray applications.

                  I didn't see any mention of sites to obtain models if you don't have the CAD software to make your own, I use Thingiverse.com to find a lot of stuff.
                  From the NW corner of Montana.


                  • #10

                    Thanks for bringing this subject to the forefront, I'd forgotten about it.

                    After reading the original postings back in July as well as some lengthy "3D Printing" postings over on the Ridgid forum I decided to look into the subject again. So I asked my 23 yr-old grandson if he'd be interested and with a positive reply I ordered a Prusa MK3S back on August 29th. They had just announced their "enclosure", as well as a free 5-spool encentive for buying at that time.

                    So here I am, two months later and I still don't have either the printer or the enclosure and checking the order status the other day, I see it is now scheduled for shipping sometiime in December. Disappointed that it is taking so long, but in the mean time I'm cleaning or organizing the shop in preparation.

                    I ordered the 'kit' as opposed to the fully assembled model. First off, it was $300 cheaper, and I thought it would be fun if the grandson and I assembled it together.

                    I ended up purchasing the latest Sketchup Pro when they offered a slight discount back in August. Of course, it's only a yearly 'rental', but at least it gets me 'off the ground' so to speak. It's been a few years since I used the original free version, back when it was a Google product. I hate these annual software subscription things, but that is the way of the world these days. Hopefully by next year I'll have picked up on another design program.

                    Think it Through Before You Do!


                    • Stan
                      Stan commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Sure hope you get your printer and supplies soon, waiting can be..... a pain.

                      I am not good with Sketchup or other CAD software, but I have been using Tinkercad for some small edits to models that I have downloaded that don't quite meet what I need. I tried OpenCAD, but my old brain just had a heck of a time figuring things out.

                  • #11
                    One of the many 3D prints that came in handy and saved money.
                    Made a couple fishing rod holders for the grandsons, the 3D printed clips worked great to hold the rods in place. Click image for larger version

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                    From the NW corner of Montana.


                    • #12

                      Thanks, that is the kind of things that I am hoping to use the 3D printer for. I used to be sort of a 'gadget' guy, and was known for always being inventive, both within the family and at work. I like creating things that are useful and, if I can figure things out, Lord knows there's enough challenges in my life. Seems like things are always breaking, not well designed, or just plain junk to begin with.

                      While cleaning up my shed/workshop this past week I notices that the plastic collar on my Ridgid drill press had cracked. I only snugged the two bolts which hold it on the column, but the increased temperatures of this past summer was obviously too much. I could of course draw a new one and print it, rather than make one from wood. I do have a few things that a 3D printer might be useful for..

                      Think it Through Before You Do!