Acrylic Paint 3D Printing Inlay

I have made multiple attempts at colored inlay with 3D printing and CnC milling in the past. My best results have been with epoxy resin and dye. It is hard to work with. Either you slop it on or pipe it in with a syringe. Slopping it on runs the risk of voids and has a lot of surface cleanup. Using a syringe has better control, but the stuff kicks off quickly when placed in a container like that. I had experimented with Acrylic paints in the past with only modest success. I tried again on my 3D prints and had a bit of a breakthrough.

I picked up some craft acrylic paint for general purpose use. It comes in a bottle and is the consistency of ranch dressing. The previous stuff I worked with was in a tube and was very thick I poured some black into a 3cc syringe and piped it into a cavity of my 3D print.

I started with a 25 gauge straight needle, but the paint flowed too freely and I ran over on one of the parts. I dropped down to a 30 gauge needle and had a lot more success. The paint flows in, sticks well to everything, and doesn’t appear to run. You can use the needle to guide it up to a wall if it didn’t quite reach everywhere.

These prints are my corner radius templates for the router table. The text is face up and have 3 perimeters. Not sure if it will bleed through 2 perimeters or not. I suspect if you had inset text on the side of a print it would seep out and run along the Z-layers. I haven’t tried it yet though. If you do happen to run over, the paint wicks down into the top layer and never comes fully out. Sealing it with a spray lacquer, before you paint, might fill the gaps and buy margin for error. I was just really careful and used a small needle after the first screw-up.

Once I got the hang of it I didn’t make any more mistakes and was able to fill them out in a minute or two each part. Maybe some day I will get a multi-color capable printer, but until then, this is a really easy effective method of adding color to inlaid text on 3D prints.

Holiday Lighting

This is the second Christmas at our new house. Last year I didn’t get much decorating done because of how much there was to do still. This year has us in better shape from a maintenance standpoint. Last year I started with some printed cones to go around the carriage lights. I also had little inserts that went in the small lantern yard lights. I didn’t document those last year. This year I added the spotlights to the mix.

Cone Shades for Carriage Lights

I 3D printed some cone shaped shades that go around the LED light bulbs in our carriage lights. CFLs would likely be too hot for PLA plastic, and incandescent bulbs would melt everything for sure! They are a single layer thick which you can do with the vase setting on most bits of slicer software.

A single layer thick is going to make them delicate, but they spend most of their life in storage or hanging off a bulb. I printed enough to do all 3 lights as orange for halloween and have the two by the garage be red and green for Christmas.


Lantern Lights

I replaced all the incandescent landscape lights with LEDs really early on. That gave me the ability to add a color hood to each one. These also were a single perimeter width so they would be thin enough to let the light through.


Spotlight Colors

Instead of doing 3D printing alone I picked up some color gel plastic to filter the spotlights in our front yard. I figured this would handle the heat better and let a lot more light through. I printed rings to go around the LED spotlight bulbs. These were glued down to the light gels with E6000 and trimmed once cured.

The results were pretty spectacular. Our icicle lights are overpowering when shooting with my camera, but everything looks really cool. Lots of color all across the yard and front of the house.

At least it DID look good for the first few days. I noticed the reds were looking really pale. I pulled a few of the filters off to inspect. The reds must absorb more than the greens, it completely bleached the gel filter right where the emitters were. The green one got hot enough that the printed part deformed and stuck itself to the LED bulb. Clearly this is going to need a re-think. Next year. It is well after Christmas and I haven’t sat down to work on a solution yet.

I did print a canister that holds all the piece parts for next year. The cone lights stack inside each other to be really compact. The lantern bulb covers are tiny and jingle around the bottom. The spotlight filters are junk at this point, so they don’t need to be stored.

Overcome Sign

Now that I have my wooden wall up, it is time to do some decoration. You might notice this broken pipe fragment from a previous engagement with our house. That is the pipe that broke off in the wall when I was trying to change out the supply valve. It was a deep low point in the renovation, but just a few days later I got the pluming and wall repaired and a new vanity installed.

I found a nice looking plaque at the hardware store, but wanted the scale to be a little different. I measured and copied the dimensions and 3d printed a template so I could replicate it at any length I wanted. I could also scale it up and down. The template goes on with double sticky tape, and a router template transfer bit copies the shape over.

With that made I routed the edges using a roman ogee bit and made a little mounting block to hold the pipe section on.

To hang this I was going to run a wire across the back, but the pipe valve’s weight would have the plaque leaning heavily from a center hang point. I needed some way to make two solid mounting points. I came up with this keyhole print. You drill a 1″ forstner hole about 1/4″ deep, and screw on the attachment. Now, a screw or nail head sticking out of the wall will register in the key hole. They make router bits for doing this, but my print is a lot easier to install. I mounted two in the back and hung up the plaque.

Last but not least this sign needs a word. I have always liked the unofficial motto of the Marine Corps. Improvise Adapt Overcome. This felt like an Overcome moment for me, so that is what I will use. I printed a two layer font white on black so that it looks like the IMPACT font with its usual white text and black outline. This is where a multicolor printer would come in a lot of handy. Instead I had to do it all with Z-height differences in color. Hopefully my next printer with come with some multi material options.

Now if I am ever in the shop working on a project that seems to have gone really belly up, I can look up and remember a worse situation I was able to overcome.

Garage Wooden Wall

The wall in our garage next to the house entrance has some issues. Multiple things had been attached and removed, and there was once a dart board. The result is a serious amount of holes. There are a lot of things I want to attach to this wall. They are often too small to use french cleats and I don’t want a million wall anchors. Why not use wood?

I picked up a pile of tongue and groove pine and covered the outward face in boiled linseed oil (BLO) to offer a little color and basic protection.

Everything got pulled away from the wall and I put in the first slat. I made really sure the first one was tight up against the wall and level. After that, things went pretty smoothly. I worked my way up the wall and got to some outlets that were disused. The house had a number of intercoms that were removed, phone jacks, and some switches I don’t need any more. I went through and measured everything’s position and saved it so I can reopen those boxes again if I want them in the future.

I put a corner mold on the outside edge and used a little scribe piece of pine to help smooth the transition between the door mold and the wood wall.

With everything up I could accessorize a bit. I bought wooden switch plates so the light switches and outlet would look nicer and blend in better.


3D Printed Enhancements

As I stated earlier, part of the reason for doing this is to support mounting options. I have a remote for my new AC system, an indoor/outdoor thermometer and a remote for the ceiling dust filter. The AC remote already had a mounting bracket, the others had to be designed and printed

While taking the garage door wall controls off the wall, the plastic started coming apart. The clips were breaking off and screw holes splitting. I printed a cradle that the housing would fit in and offer new mounting screw holes. The bodies were bonded into the cradle and allowed to cure overnight. The only place I had access to screw holes was under the main button. The base is thick enough to keep it from flapping under use.


I continued to add the signs and other accessories to my wall as I put the desk back and cleaned up. I was able to mount my shiny red metal first aid kit down low in easy reach. I also screwed a sealed CAT tourniquet to the wall. Hopefully that never comes in handy. Having the wall here has been nice. The space feels a lot warmer, and I have already added more items since taking this picture. I might pick continue this theme elsewhere in the shop, but not any time soon.

Under Desk Mess Wire Shelf

I will be honest, underneath my office desk is a hot mess. Wires everywhere and power strips piled up. I tried to push everything off to the sides, but it always migrates back to the center. I kick the stuff around and have switched off the power by accident before. Time to fix this pile.

I had an idea that trimming a set of wire shelves narrow would give me a good platform to hold up all the power strips and lots of spots to strap things down. This 4 foot shelf was only 10 dollars at lowes. It gives me a really great jumping off point. I started by taking off the longer rung section. This left me with a 6.5″ wide shelf.

From there I designed some brackets to go under my desk. They would strap down the shelf with zip ties, align with a shoulder to the desk’s back edge, and screw into the sides of the desk.

The shelf fit check went well and I pulled my desk out to install the brackets. That is where things went a little south. I had measured, but not realized just how far away from the wall I would have to pull my desk to accommodate the shelf. The gap behind the table top was big enough to allow a lot of stuff to get tipped over and fall behind.


I regrouped and cut off the next row from the wire shelving. That shortened it to a little over 4 inches which was a lot more manageable. I shortened up and reprinted the brackets. This let me retest the distance between the desktop and the wall. This size is going to work out.

With the bracket on I was able to slip the shelf into place and start wrangling wires. It took disconnecting everything and a lot of velcro, but I got it all organized and away from my feet. I don’t know how many places this kind of organization is useful. Certainly entertainment centers and computer stations, but beyond that I am not certain. I will have to keep this trick in my back pocket if I find myself with another big interconnected wire mess to straighten up. Brackets added to thingiverse by request. I only modeled one side, mirror in your slicer software to get the other side.

Late Summer 2019 Prints

Kind of a big span of time with a smattering of prints. I am always printing one little thing or another, but only occasionally remember to document them. Let the disjointed presentation begin.

Reciprocating Saw Spray Can Shaker

One of my weirder ideas that was spawned by being locked away waiting for a hurricane to come. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could use a saw to shake new spray paint cans for you? Turns out some folks weld something like this together and sell them on ebay. Not sure I want the full metal version, but a plastic one screwed down to a de-toothed saw blade would be ok. A large hose clamp keeps the can in place.

So far it has worked well the 2 or 3 times I have tried it. Probably one launched can away from it being my worst idea ever, but until then, it feels pretty clever.


Pole Scraper (Paint Handle Threads)

Also while waiting out the storm I had time to experiment with threads. Specifically I wanted to make threads that would go onto any standard mop/cleaning brush/paint roller/etc pole. I did some research and it is an ACME 3/4″ x 5tpi. Turns out Fusion 360 only had that diameter in a 6tpi version. I found a guide on their help area that tells you how to set up custom threads. (Link)

My first project was simple, but useful. I made a little scraper that would go on the end of some extension poles we had. I used it to go all around the house and scrap off the mud dobber nests that had built up all over the house. The printed plastic will not hurt anything on the house, and the extension pole lets me get to everything without leaving the ground. Now I can attach any kind of hook, grabber, poker, or whatever to an extendable pole.


Calking Plug

While working on the rock project I went through a lot of tubes of landscape adhesive. I bought it in the large 28oz tubes (instead of your typical 10oz) because it is way cheaper per ounce that way. My big calking gun had issues sometimes though. The diaphragm in the back of the tube would fail, and I would end up with the plunger pushing through the glue. It almost ruined my gun.

The first time I thought it was a fluke. The second time I got kind of mad. Once the diaphragm fails, you basically can’t do anything with the tube and have to toss it. I cleaned the gun up again, and noticed that the plunger is quite a bit smaller than the inner diameter of the glue tubes. By only pushing in the center of the glue plug, it could be causing them to have a blowout more easily. I printed a larger disk that fits around the existing plunger, and just fits inside the tubes. After that, the glue tubes behaved themselves.


Inside Transfer Calipers

Sometimes you need to measure the inside diameter of something, but the shape makes it difficult to get that measurement. Inside calipers can help, but if going into a flared hole or other situation, it is not easy to pull the tool back out without disturbing the caliper distance. This simple design will produce the same dimension on either end. Stick it in a tapered hole, and just measure the part sticking out to know what that size is. A very special usage case, but I have needed one in the past, and with a little print time, I have one.


Wind Chime Clacker

The house came with a few really nice sounding wind chimes. They are blocked by the trees and screen, so they don’t chime often, but the long tubes make a deep soft song. The wooden clacker on one has fallen apart a few times. I keep gluing it back together, but the wood is really shot. I thought about making another wooden one, but wanted to try a printed one instead. It matches the diameter and thickness. The two halves are the same print just turned around to key into each other. This way I don’t have to untie anything, just glue it into place. The keyed insides align both pieces to center and add additional glue surface area. I am curious to see how long black PLA will last.

Swiveling Dust Collection Fitting

My dust deputy cart is doing a reasonably good job of helping me keep clean. One place that falls short is the hose that attaches to the inlet of the dust cyclone. The inlet part is tapered and the plastic is quite slick. A picture from my original post shows that I originally held it in place with zip ties. I moved on to a hose clamp, but that didn’t work either. It always gets twisted up during use, and it falls off constantly. I need a connection that can swivel and stay attached.

My solution to this issue is to 3D print a tapered ring with threads (red below). A loose tube butts up against that (yellow), and is held down by a nut (green). I did a cross cut shot to show what it looks like when assembled (lower right). My CAD software introduced a few new colors to confuse the issue.

I had a lot of blue filament lying around so I made everything out of that. The tapered base goes on and screws into place to keep it from falling off. I then screwed on the big nut to capture the 2″ hose adapter. The nut threads interfere heavily, so it won’t move without a lot of effort.

I tightened the nut down enough to form a reasonable seal, but loose enough to let it swivel. To connect the hose to the swivel section I again used a hose clamp. This time I printed and glued on a little handle so you don’t need a tool to loosen or tighten the clamp. Ask me in 3 months if I like it or not.