TL;DR: Since the acute need for PPE has diminished, I am no longer producing parts on regular basis. However, I do have a reserve of face shields and earsavers remaining, and am more than happy to ramp up production if you or anybody you know need equipment.
Over the past 8 weeks, I personally manufactured about 1000 face shields and 1000 ear savers on my two 3D printers, delivering a quantity of about 880 of each to healthcare friends and friends of friends in places all over the country including: LA, SF, OC, Oakland, Tennessee, Oregon, South Carolina, Georgia, and New York. Furthermore, two local groups I work with have distributed over 75,000 and 22,000 face shields and other units of PPE, respectively.
However, it appears that more and more hospitals are getting their supply chains back in order, and the shortfalls do not seem as desperate as they were a few weeks ago.
I feel this was a huge accomplishment, and I could not have done it without the support of everybody who chipped in for expenses—it was incredibly generous of you. I plan to donate the remaining funds to the charity Good360 in a few weeks if the need remains low and seems unlikely to ramp up in the short-to-medium term.
I hope everybody has a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend, and stays as happy and healthy as possible. I sincerely hope enough of us remain vigilant and change our habits enough to ensure the gains and sacrifices we’ve made the past few weeks are not wasted. I pray that the worst of this situation is truly over for us. However, if there’s one silver lining to this, I know that if the need for more PPE arises again, we’ll be able to ramp back up much faster next time.
TL;DR: In addition to face shields, I’m now producing NIH-approved
earsavers. Let me know if you need some!
About two weeks ago, I upgraded my old cloggy 0.4mm nozzle to a great 0.8mm
nozzle courtesy of Micro Swiss (https://store.micro-swiss.com/).
Making this switch greatly increased my printing capacity—when you go from a
smaller nozzle to a larger one, the volume of material you can deposit
increases by r^2–you reduce both the travel count within each layer, and
increase the layer height at which you can print at. This leads to a huge boost
in printing speed, with the drawback of losing details. However, for what I’m
mass-producing right now, loss in detail is a very minor concern, so cutting my
print time nearly in half on one printer is well worth the trade off.
While I continue manufacturing and delivering NIH-approved face shields on
one printer, I’ve dedicated my other to the production of NIH-approved
for the next week or two. These popular devices are great for relieving
pressure off the ears of healthcare workers who need to wear surgical masks for
hours on end during their shifts. By the end of this week, I will have
delivered over 350 of them (including shipments to South Carolina, Tennessee,
Oregon, and NorCal!)
Here’s a snapshot of my life for the past few weeks:
Let me know if you or any of your healthcare worker friends need any face
shields or earsavers! I’m happy to ship them out.
Again, hope everybody stays safe and healthy out there!
TL;DR: I made a working respirator using a small stockpile of N95
replacement filters I have… However, since a local hospital has the appropriate
adapters and real respirators, for the greater good, it makes the most sense
for me to simply donate my materials.
Two weeks ago, I completed the design of, and successfully tested a
prototype N95 respirator. Before everything was sold out, I managed to buy a
small stockpile of about forty 3M 5N11 particulate filters, typically used for
industrial purposes. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any of the requisite adapters
nor compatible respirators.
Luckily, what I did find was this great project called S.A.F.E
(self-assembly filtration unit for emergencies) from the Medical University of
South Carolina (MUSC) (https://web.musc.edu/innovation/covid-19-innovation/safe-cartridge-system-and-masks)
to use as a starting point for my own design. In the original design, MUSC
recommends using part of a furnace HEPA filter as the filtering material
inserted in a replaceable cartridge system. What I believe was the true key to
their design, however, is the inclusion of a simple one-way valve. The valve
makes it easier to breathe out, prevents excessive CO2 buildup, and extends the
life of the filter, but it does not prevent the user from spreading COVID-19 if
they are already infected.
To speed up the printing process (and thereby the prototyping and
fit-checking stages), I broke the system into three main components:
The mask – this remained untouched from the original
The tube – This component was originally built into the
cartridge, and attaches the filter to the mask. The tube also houses the
one-way valve, which I thought was a particularly high-risk feature, so I
wanted to be able to test it separately.
The cartridge – I needed to replace the HEPA filter
design to fit 5N11 replacements.
Since the mask needed no modifications and changes to the tube were minor, I
was free to focus my energy on creating a cartridge to fit filter replacement
pads. To be honest, even this was a fairly straightforward design job… I took a
few measurements of my filter and made a simple enclosure, making sure that the
tube would fit into the back. One neat trick I employed to check my fit before
printing was that I took a photo of my pad and imported it into my design
software to ensure all my geometry looked correct.
While I originally intended the design to be a snap fit to make it easier to
swap out the 5N11, I decided that simply sealing everything in place with hot
glue, and turning the cartridge into a single-use item would be safer. It is
simply much harder to guarantee a seal if end users are the ones making changes.
The tube only took about half an hour to print, so I made that first to test
the valve. The S.A.F.E. design called for the use of heavier rubber for the
flap, but the only material I had available were thin inspection gloves. Luckily,
the design was robust as-is! However, since my membrane material was much thinner
and tended to curl, I paid extra special attention to ensure the curl direction
defaulted to the closed position. Next, I made the filter cartridge. Since I
had checked all my dimensions electronically before, the parts fit together
perfectly on my first try—yay! I hot glued a filter in place to make sure the
only path for air was through the filter pad itself.
Since the mask took hours to print, I made it overnight. Unfortunately,
sometime in the middle of the night, my nozzle clogged a bit and/or my extruder
skipped a few steps. This resulted in some underextruded and weak layers, which
caused the mask to break as I removed it from the print bed and cleaned up
support materials. However, since the breaks were clean, I was able to fix the
mask in a quick and dirty way by simply smothering the interface with hot glue.
I then attached some rubber material used for sealing windows to the inside of
the mask to ensure I could get a tight airtight seal on my face.
Assembling the mask was simply a matter of attaching the cartridge with tube
into the corresponding hole in the mask. I put the mask on and breathed in and
out to ensure the valve operated as intended. Then, I did a vacuum test—I covered
the filter with a sheet of plastic, and breathed in extra hard… and… success! I
was able to hold the plastic up, demonstrating no leaks in my mask!
Despite some initial success, I quickly realized there were some potential
issues with my mask design. First, the positioning of the filter is non-ideal
for healthcare workers. Although the filter is out of the way for the doctor,
it is facing a potentially exposed area where it is super easy for a patient’s
cough to cover the filter itself. Second, my design lacks any sort of exterior
grating to protect the filter. Regardless, I saw the two units I did make as a
As an engineer, I really love designing and making stuff. However, in this
situation, I realized that if any hospitals actually had the real adapters and
respirators to pair with my 5N11 filters, then the filters would be better
utilized as donated goods. I contacted a few hospitals in my area, and UCI said
they could accept them.
As an aside, now that I have two printers running, my output has tripled (my
2nd printer has a bigger build area than my first), and with bigger
nozzles coming in, I expect my output to increase again to *FOUR* times what I
TL;DR: I’ve been busy making supplies for COVID. You can help!
Throughout this lockdown, I’ve dedicated nearly all my spare time to helping
out where I can with COVID19 (not even really taking time to doodle! T_T). I
doubt I need to educate anybody on the crucial need for PPE in the US.
Accordingly, the two main projects I’ve undertaken are:
N95 respirator design
Face shield manufacturing
While there’s a bigger shortage of N95 masks and respirators, designing one
that actually works well is tricky, and it’s a topic for a future post. On the
other hand, there are plenty of easy to make open-source face shield designs
out there, and hospitals around the globe are accepting them. In conjunction
with other PPE, face shields keep healthcare workers safe by preventing
droplets from sneezes and coughs from reaching their faces.
The face shields are comprised of three main components:
3D Printed Frame, ideally PETG, but PLA will work in a
Shield, made from transparent PET, PVC, or Acetate
Straps, optional for some designs
After searching around for a while, I’ve become heavily involved in a dedicated group of local Orange County makers. While we’ve just really started ramping up in the past week, we have collectively already delivered over 318 face shields to hospitals in Santa Ana, Long Beach, Norwalk, and Riverside, and we have orders pending from 24 facilities for over 1700 shields… This includes repeat commitments of 780 units per week.
Personally, I’ve delivered a small batch of initial units to local
healthcare friends on the front lines, while I’m working out the kinks in the
manufacturing process. This week, I’m on the hook to deliver 55 face shields to
local clinics. I’ve just published improvements to two popular designs to thingiverse.
The improvements allow parts to be printed in stacks, giving makers more
downtime between needing to fuss with printers, and allows for more fully
utilized overnight printing. I fully admit that this idea was shamelessly
stolen from other members of the OC makers group:
With my current capacity, I’m able to do between 10 and 15 frames per day.
However, to keep up with the increasing demand, I ordered another printer, so
hopefully I’ll be able to boost my production to nearly frames 30 daily this
week. Tiff has pitched in to help with hole punching shields, and she’s been a
trooper in allowing this to take over tons of my time (and a lot of the space
in the living room), so I wanted to give her a special shout out <3.
If you’d like to help, there’s a few ways you can pitch in:
TL;DR: I designed and printed a booklet maker for a friend.
Instead of completing the Inktober challenge I spent the month of October designing and printing gifts for friends… and I spent November writing about them, haha. I posted about a Darth Vader dice tower here, an Ironman figurine here, and the third project I completed is this booklet maker.
My friend Will reached out for help solving a specific problem: he likes to
staple papers into booklets, but needed a way to make them more easily and
consistently. We went back and forth with some requirements (number of sheets
at a time, staple placement, etc.), he drop shipped a stapler to me, and I
I began by modeling the classic Swingline 747 stapler from caliper measurements.
I needed an accurate stapler model to ensure a good fit for whatever 3D printed
part I would ultimately design. Capturing the draft of the side and determining
the clearance available during stapler actuation was of paramount importance,
so I created the stapler in two components and added movable mates.
For this project there were advantages to taking a top-down design approach. In a new part model, I created a layout sketch to place the staplers per the desired specifications 6 inches apart on a line ¼ inch away from the left margin.
With the staplers fixed in place, I focused my attention on the design of
the main paper retention body. The trickiest part of the design was creating an
attachment method that keeps a clear path for the stapler head to reach the
After completing a test print to check the fit, I made a few adjustments to
the paper backstop height, mirrored the body and connected the two halves with
beam extrusions. Pictures speak louder than words, so here’s the build gallery:
Will tells me he’s very happy with the results, and I couldn’t be happier
TL;DR: I uploaded my first Thingiverse share! I improved the design of an
existing Ironman model by adding pegs to allow for articulation and adhesive-less
I went on a work trip to Phoenix in early November. Fortuitously, my best
friend growing up lives there and loves Ironman like I do. I decided to squeeze
in a quick design and print project to gift him.
I found a decent looking Ironman figurine on Thingiverse here. This model is actually a remix of another project—the remixer made the part easier to print by separating the limbs. While this was a good step forward for printability, I further improved the design by adding pegs between the extremities and the main body:
The boolean tools available in Fusion360 make it incredibly easy to complete
simple changes like this. I undersized the peg in the CAD model, but small variations
in print settings and nozzle wear and tear make perfect fits a bit tricky. In
fact, it took me a few tries to get the pegs working really well, but the
prints were short, and the results were worth it:
Given that this project originated directly on thingiverse, I thought it was only right to give back to the community and share my very first remix here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3998580. The number of views and downloads of this model pleasantly surprised me, given the simple and obvious nature of the change I made. I’ll probably consider sharing more stuff going forward… we’ll see ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
I think the assembly with articulation turned out pretty well—the yellow
looks vaguely gold-ish, so the only thing missing is some red paint:
TL;DR: I made a villainous dice tower for a friend’s bday, combining two of
his favorite things—Star Wars and board gaming.
October was a pretty busy month for me with work and fantasy football both
ramping up. However, I’m very happy I was able to get some design and project
time in. My friend Nick’s birthday was earlier this week, and I wanted to make
him something practical yet personalized. Anybody who knows him at all knows
how much he loves both board games and Star Wars, so to me, printing a Darth
Vader dice tower was simply a no brainer.
For those of you who may not know, a dice tower is a very simple device to ensure
fair rolls while keeping dice from flying all over the place and messing up
stuff on the table. Dice towers can take on a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
All that is really needed is some sort of aperture at the top to put dice in, a
path which randomizes spins, and a tray to collect them at the end.
Before I started designing, I did a quick search on thingiverse and other 3d
print sharing sites to make sure I wasn’t completely reinventing the wheel. I
found a few Vader dice towers, but to be honest, I didn’t think they were very
good in terms of amount of detail and general aesthetics. I was fortunate to find
a great model of Darth Vader to begin with: https://www.myminifactory.com/object/3d-print-star-wars-darth-vader-30-cm-tall-60500.
Essentially my plan was as follows:
Reorient and resize the head to maximize the print area
on my bed.
Create the dice travel path leading from the top of the
head out of the mouth.
Subtract the path model from the head model.
Create a tray to catch the dice
Print the parts
Parts 1-4 went incredibly smoothly all within Fusion 360. I successfully
printed a ¼ size test part to ensure the path I created could be printed
without any internal support structures to minimize post processing work.
Unfortunately, I then ran into printer issues I had never previously
My Monoprice Maker Select Plus (aka Wanhao Duplicator III Plus clone) has
been a workhorse without any major issues for years now. Of course, she decided
to act up when I was up against a deadline since birth dates are immutable. My
printer would randomly stop working and send bed temperature errors before
rebooting. I pinpointed the problem to the thermistor on my print bed, but I
didn’t have time to mess around. Luckily for me, my neighbor across the street
literally has a print farm in his bedroom (15 machines and counting) so I was
still able to get the parts made on time. The only unfortunate thing is that
his machines are smaller than mine—so he had to scale the size down by 5% to
get them to fit. (I found out later that the fix I needed on my printer was
incredibly basic: the kapton tape holding the thermistor to the bed loosened
over time, thus the printer received intermittent temperature readings.)
Luckily, the 5% reduction in size did not severely diminish the part’s
I’m incredibly happy with the results of this project. I enjoyed the challenge of modifying an existing mesh to create a new, meaningful, and practical object. Even though UPS spoiled the surprise by giving Nick a notification about the arrival of a package sent from my area, and the package arrived late, I’m pretty sure he was very pleased upon arrival.
Thanks for making it to the end of this post—here’s an incredibly sparse
TL;DR: I made a robot whose only purpose is to hold up a spotlight… At
least it’s a step up from passing butter :D. I am extremely pleased with how
this guy turned out. The light is adjustable both in leaf rotation and tilt
A few weeks ago, I desperately wanted a lamp for my nightstand to keep me
from needing to stumble around in the dark trying to find the bed while
avoiding squishing the dog after turning off the lights at night. Thus, I
decided to do the most practical thing, and began designing my own.
I began my design around the idea of creating something in a modular manner.
I knew I wanted to have some sort of character holding up the light source, but
was unsure about the specifics of what was going to be feasible, and what would
be accepted by my landlord to have around the house. I landed on the idea of
building around a spotlight—I like the simple shape and general aesthetics and
the character-neutral nature.
Over the next few weekends, I kicked around a few ideas and asked some
friends for inspiration when I had my eureka moment—THE BUTTER BOT FROM RICK
AND MORTY IS PERFECT FOR THIS!!! I am a huge fan of the show, wanted to use up
my silk silver plastic filament, and thought I could give this little guy a
better purpose than just passing butter. Really, it was a win/win/win scenario.
I don’t have any photos detailing the electronics, but I’ve got a simple ATmega32U4-based
Arduino board with a micro-USB interface. I found this awesome inline DC jack
power switch and paired it with an even cooler DC jack to micro-USB cable to
provide power and add the ability to turn the light on/off.
Designing and implementing my idea was relatively straightforward after
deciding what to build. The trickiest part was designing the parts in such a
way so they could be broken up and printed in different jobs—the overall size
is roughly 7” x 8” x 18” (although the 7” width can change depending on how the
spotlight leaves are oriented, and the height can change depending on the tilt
angle). I am particularly proud of my insight of creating a domed peg to enable
the printing of the main body without the need for supports.
The only thing missing from the completely finished design are a red wire, a yellow wire, and a red led bulb. Anyway, here’s a gallery of my design and build process:
TL;DR: I made a divider for our new laundry bin using material from our old
bin and printing some threaded pins to hold it in place.
We used to have a stiff cloth laundry basket, but there were two main
problems with it. Whenever I tossed my clothes on it inaccurately (this
happened all the time, let’s be real), the walls would buckle a bit under the
weight. Secondly, there’s just a single compartment, and I’m allergic to the
laundry detergent Tiff likes to use.
To fix the first problem, we actually used the ubiquitous 20% off Bed Bath
and Beyond and bought a new hard plastic hamper. To address the second, I got a
bit more creative. Since our old laundry basket was cloth-based, I was able to
fold it up using binder clips. The divider fit very tightly near the bottom, so
I only needed a way to hold it in place closer to the top. I created a pocket
on each side by adding two binder clips around where I wanted to place the
The custom design I went with was very simple—it’s a simple threaded pin and
retaining nut. I measured the hole I needed to fill, extruded a few cylinders,
and added threads, ezpz. About two hours on the printer later, I installed two
pins with nuts on the basket and put the divider into place.
I’ll be the first to admit that this isn’t my sexiest design ever, but it’s
TL;DR: I finished the EL headbands I’ve been working on :D.
I finished up the electroluminescent headbands I described in my post a few weeks ago here. Since my prototype was close to the final product, completing the production was fast after I received the custom fabric components.
As in the prototype, EL wire was passed through the printed channels and
connected to a DC to AC inverter for power. I found nifty coin battery sized
inverters, which fit directly on the bands without too much interference. The
most time consuming portion of the build was attachment of the plastic to the
fabric, since I’m bad at hand sewing.
Here’s the build gallery:
Here’s a bonus gif, with a little preview of a flag project I’ve been working on as well…