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…
TL;DR: For my friend Teddy’s birthday, I made him a hypebeast worthy (if I
do say so myself) Supreme EL box.
My good friend Teddy is one of the biggest hypebeasts I know, so I wanted to
make something he would like. I went back to the EL wire well again for this
project (see: headbands http://www.andrewpip.com/2019/03/28/el-wire-lighted-headbands/
and sign <http://www.andrewpip.com/2019/04/07/faux-neon-signage>).
However, I needed to dig into my paint supplies dating all the way back to my
Iron Man Mask (http://www.andrewpip.com/2018/05/06/infinity-war-masks).
Conceptually, this project was relatively simple:
I made a box.
I cut some channel shaped holes in the box.
I painted the box.
I put my wire through the box.
I gave Teddy the box.
For this project, honestly I think the gallery will explain things better than I can in words, so here it is (it looks nicer if you click to open the full-sized images):
TL;DR: For my friend Gina’s birthday, I made her a faux-neon sign to
decorate her new condo with. I ended up making a few different versions of this
sign and through the process, I learned several useful tricks to speed up
vector image modifications, which will definitely make it easier for me going
I continued playing with el wire since I bought so much for my headband project. Since my friend’s birthday was coming up, I figured it was a great opportunity to make something cool with it. I decided to make a faux-neon sign reading “Mama G’s House”.
I started by searching for neon sign fonts on google and downloaded a few to
try out including “Warnes”, “La Patio Script”, “I am online with u”, and
“Fenotype Neon”. All of them were free to download, but not all of them were
free for commercial usage, which is fine for this project as I’m not selling
The first prototype I made used Warnes as the base font. I really liked how
the letters all connect at the bottom. However, I needed to do a bit of surgery
in Inkscape to connect the disparate words after vectorization:
I imported the SVG directly into a sketch Fusion 360 and resized it to
ensure I had a ~3mm wide channel all over. Next, I modified the sketch to
remove areas near the bottom where the lettering overlapped. In a fashion
similar to what I did for the EL headbands, I extruded a positive model of the
letters. Next, I needed to move the apostrophe body and combine it with the
rest of the lettering. Then, I created a sketch, offset the entire object, and
cleaned up the line overlapping lines created by the offset tool. After
extruding the outlined body, I cut the positive lettering model out:
After slicing the STL in Cura, and waiting about 3 hours for production, the
print came out pretty well:
However, with the physical model in front of me, I saw the font I used had a
few issues. Primarily, although the channels I made fit the el wire, there were
too many places where stringing it required a double back, which was not
accounted for. Oops. Luckily, I hadn’t spent a lot of time on this, and I
figured Gina could still use it as a nice decoration even without lighting
The next font I tried was called “I am online with u” which had the
advantage of being a single connected line. Although this font was more ideal out
of the box, I still needed to tweak the vector version to make it work
properly. Essentially, I just modified the “corners” of the letters to allow
for more space wherever they changed direction, I adjusted the spacing between
words and letters, and I moved and combined the apostrophe to overlap with the
My workflow in Fusion 360 was essentially identical to the one I used for
the previous version of the sign: import svg, scale, and clean up sketch ->
extrude a positive channel -> offset the body and extrude the outline ->
use the combine tool to cut the positive channel away from the outlined body. Unfortunately,
this part was a bit too big to fit on my printer in one piece, so I needed to
split it into two. The split created a physical weakness which I shored up by
creating a small base to hold it together and help the entire assembly stand
The print didn’t take very long—maybe about 4 hours in total for all the pieces. I was pretty happy with the results, and I think she was too 🙂
TL;DR: My friends asked me to make custom light up costume headbands for
them in the style of Naruto… so I did. I 3D printed channels through which I
fed electroluminescent wire to make logos of their favorite DJ’s. While the
project is simple in concept, I needed to dust off a bunch of tools I hadn’t
utilized in a while to complete it. While I’m not quite finished with these, I’m
too excited about how the project is looking NOT to share.
In the anime Naruto, the characters wear headbands to protect their
foreheads while they fight. My friends wanted ones that light up for their
costumes, and asked if I could help. If you want to skip over a lot of unnecessary
detail, just go to the gallery at the bottom where I put the build photos 😛
El wire is a fantastic way to add lighting effects to projects since it is
very bendable, easy to install, and does not require any programming at all
(just add power!). Before this project, I hadn’t played with electroluminescent
(el) wire for years, so I was excited to jump back in. The technology has
become a lot more common and widely available than I remember—there’re tons of
vendors for wire and the requisite DC to AC inverters. Unfortunately, the
inverters still make an annoying high pitched buzz whenever they’re on.
In terms of the mechanical design, the headband was very simple. I created a
base in Fusion 360 CAD to reuse in each version with a different logo. The
majority of my time has actually been spent optimizing the image preparation
pipeline. To go from a 2D-logo to a cut channel, the process I went through was
Prepare an outline image in Gimp (a free Photoshop competitor). The easiest way I found to do this was by using the fuzzy select tool to select the outline of the image I wanted to convert, then using the stroke selection tool.
After saving the image as a bitmap in Gimp, I imported the file in Inkscape (similar to Adobe Illustrator) and stroked the bitmap to a path. I resized the vector image to fit my headband base, and manually edited the nodes until all parts of the path were approximately 2.5mm in width to fit my el wire.
Initially, I was exporting vector images as 2D
CAD-friendly DXF files. However, I made the groundbreaking discovery that
Fusion 360 actually lets you directly import and use SVG files. Using the
vector files (svg) directly is a lot more computationally friendly and MUCH
easier to work with. For example, the dxf version of the Illenium logo had
upwards of 670 line elements, whereas the svg file had two curves.
Within Fusion 360, I directly extruded the imported drawing.
Next, I did a few manipulations with the combine and move bodies menu to create
a “positive” model of the channel I wanted to CUT from the headband.
One of the limitations of working with el wire is that there is a minimum bend radius before you can actually break the wire and cause shorts. Unfortunately, since I was making headbands most of the detailed bends weren’t physically possible to make in a single piece. To maintain sharp edges required for the logo designs, I created pass through holes. This allows me to bend the wire in an unsightly loop where it can’t be seen in the final product. Positive models of the pass through holes were created by extruding cylinders from behind the headband up to the channel model.
Lastly, I created some “channels” on the back of the
headbands to accommodate the loops. In an early prototype, I created actual
channels out of spline sketches, but that proved to be a lot of work for no
reason. Now, I’ve simply created large inset areas that can fit the el wire
loops. It’s much less effort to achieve the same result. The positives for this
were extruded initially as separate bodies to the channels so I could shift
them backward about 0.8mm before joining to the rest of the positive channel
A simple combine, export as STL, and slicing in Cura
resulted in a pretty decent print, if I do say so myself ;).
The first prototype I printed was in black PLA before I received this gorgeous silk silver shiny PLA made by Hatchbox on Amazon. I quickly realized that I didn’t have a great way of making the fabric for the bands since I don’t have any sewing skills. I am incredibly lucky to have super talented parents (check out my dad’s website here… he’s much more artistically talented than I am: www.bounsaypipathsouk.com) who are always willing to help. I Facetime called them to explain what I was making and mailed them my first sample. A few days later, I received some photos of my prototype solidly attached to a custom headband they made, and should receive them next week :D.
While there are still a few improvements left for me to make before I deliver
my final product, I’m pretty stoked at how well the project has turned out so
far, and just couldn’t wait to share.
TL;DR: I made a lithophane lamp shade for my sister’s birthday. I used an
online tool that combined multiple images with specific measurements to create
a part that fit around my particular desk lamp. This was probably my longest
single part print to date—about 60 hours, but the results were well worth the
I continued playing around with lithophanes and made my sister a birthday
present—a litphophane lamp shade! I found another online tool at: https://www.lithophanemaker.com/Lamp%20Lithophane.html.
This one lets you enter various parameters to create an entire ready-to-print
part very quickly. While I would design this part a bit differently if I were
to do it from scratch, the speed of use was pretty undeniable.
I only had a two small hiccups—the size of the lamp retaining lip didn’t
quite match what I expected. That is—the cylinder turned out undersized for
what I needed. Luckily, I had the foresight to first print only the inner
cylinder for a fit check. After I started the print the first time, I realized
that I forgot to add supports for the cylinder retaining lip to come out
properly, so I had to restart the print after a few hours >.<.
Once I started the print for real, I had the full lamp shade in hand after
about 60 hours. This was my longest single part print to date, and I think it
turned out incredibly well 😀
The gallery with descriptions below shows the process:
TL;DR: For Valentines Day, I made a lithophane—a 3D object which reveals an
image when light is shined through it. The operating principle is
basic—different “pixels” are created since thicker areas block more light.
Lithophanes are really cool. Essentially, they’re 3D photos that physically encode pixels of an image by varying the amount of material. Thinner sections of the lithophane allow more light to pass through. I discovered a simple to use, yet highly customizable online lithophane generator at http://3dp.rocks/lithophane/. Upon making this discovery, my mind immediately went to the perler project I worked on last year… I saw I could reuse most of the components (back plate, switch, LED backlight), only making a new front plate. Since I designed the perler project housing in Onshape using top-down design principles, all the modifications only took a few minutes to complete and export for printing.
It took me three tries to finetune my print settings. In the first print, I
inadvertently made the image inverted:
For the second print, I ended with a lot of blobs on our faces. Clearly this was because the nozzle dwelled a bit too long on the top surfaces since I printed this part flat on the bed:
To correct for this, I reoriented the part on the print bed. I was worried
about the part falling over (hence my original print orientation), so I added a
really large brim to keep it rooted:
The third time really did turn out to be the charm, and I was very pleased
with how it turned out:
There’s a ton of ways in which the lithophane idea can be expanded and
improved upon. First, I need to redesign the housing unit to incorporate the
switch and battery. Others on the internet have wrapped lithophanes around
objects like cylinders to make custom lamps, trophies, and other neat projects.
The possibilities are endless… as you can see in the summary photo below, you
can use pretty much any light source and have the images turn out well:
I’m excited to play around more with this type of stuff!
TL;DR: I made custom Nintendo Switch Joycon Controller holders in the shape
of Star Wars Y-Wing and A-Wings.
I’ve been traveling quite a bit this year, and my Switch has been a great
companion surprisingly easy to bring around. However, the biggest gripe I and
everybody else has with the device is that it is no fun to use the controllers
in single joy-con mode. I found and printed some neat grips that make it a bit
easier to use them in this mode, but I’ll cover them in a future post.
In this project, I made some ridiculously tardy birthday presents for two of
my Switch-owning friends: Y-Wing and A-Wing Joycon holders. Honestly they aren’t
that practical, but they technically *are* functional, and I think they look
pretty cool. I started by downloading STL
files from thingiverse of various Star Wars ships and a simple dual-joycon
In Fusion 360, I chopped off the joycon rails and saved the bodies as
separate components so I can reuse them in multiple projects. Next, I started
processing the Y-Wing by simplifying a lot of unnecessary mesh details, cutting
off the engines, then making the mesh into a solid body. I inserted the joycon
rails where the engines used to be and played around with the scaling of the Y-Wing
body to fit well. From there, it was a simple merge bodies, slice, and print…
or so I thought.
Unfortunately, I messed up some of my slicing settings in my first attempt,
and part of the print fell over. Even though part of the print had failed, I
was still able to do a geometry check, and I was pleased with how well the
joycon and strap both fit into this model.
My slicing error was in a boneheaded misconfiguration of adaptive layer
settings. Using adaptive layers in slicing software allows for faster prints
since the printer is programmed to use larger z-steps if it is safe to preserve
model details. The base layer height for this was 0.12mm, and by entering the
deviation to 0.2mm, for some reason I thought I was setting the absolute height
limit for the print to 0.2mm, but this was not the case, and my printer was trying
to print with 0.32mm layers, which it just was not able to do. On my subsequent
attempts, I dialed the deviation back and was able to get a really nice print.
Y-Wing gallery here:
The A-Wing model took a bit more pre-print processing. First, I noticed a
small hole in the surface, so I used meshmixer to mirror the better half of the
model. Second, the model I had was hollow (there was an internal surface),
which would have caused issues later on in combining with joycon holders and
printing. The hollow body was simple to rectify—I created a block larger than
the A-Wing then used combine to cut the A-Wing from the block. This left several
bodies, including one that was the ship model cavity, which was added back into
the main ship model. Just as for the Y-Wing model, I imported the Joycon rails,
scaled the Awing body, and moved everything in place before combining the
I’ll admit the joycons on the A-Wing are less than ideal, but I still think it looks cool. 😛
TL;DR: I printed and painted Peach from Mario Kart for a friend’s birthday. The
model came from the video game and I think it turned out pretty well.
Back in the ancient days of Sophomore year of undergrad, my drawmates and I
spent hours playing MarioKart 64. My roommate would always grab Peach before
anybody else, so I decided to make him one for his birthday. I got surface
models from a Mario Kart video game then did a bit of patching work to make
everything into a nice solid model. The Kart and Peach came as two separate
files which I combined into a single model for printing.
During support clean-up, I had an unfortunate accident with our dear
Princess, and she pulled a Marie Antoinette on us. This actually turned out to
be advantageous since I’m not sure how I would have accessed a lot of the body
for painting without the decapitation. The only truly custom parts I made for this
project were the wheels, which were printed in black and simply hot-glued on.
I already missed the birthday of the other drawmates, and I feel bad… but I
have prepared the racer models for both him and the last of the drawmates… We’ll
all be getting together in June 😀
TL;DR: I printed and painted a Totoro Ocarina for my girlfriend’s birthday. There
are 4 finger holes and is actually tuned to play notes correctly. After that, I
created a positive model of the cavity so I can use a Boolean subtract to make
ocarinas out of custom models :D.
I came across this amazing model on Thingiverse (https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1798728)
while looking for inspiration of things to make for my girlfriend’s birthday.
She loves Studio Ghibli films, and this is a cool application of 3d printing I
had not really seen nor tried before.
In 2016, Autodesk research developed a software package called “PrinTone”
which analyzes any arbitrary 3D model to add a cavity and holes so you can play
tuned notes. Unfortunately, they have yet to release the software, so I couldn’t
use it to transform any custom model into an ocarina. Luckily, the only
customization I wanted to make was the addition of a birthday message through
an extruded text cut.
The poor settings on my initial print attempt led to some underextrusion on
some of the walls, and some small gaps in the head, which is no good for a wind
instrument. I also tried printing a larger version at 1.5x scale, but the holes
became too big for my fingers. I’m very happy with how the present came out
after painting J.
After I finished this part, I still wanted a way to design and print custom ocarinas. Inspired by physical molding techniques, I was able to use CAD tools to create a digital model of the cavity, finger holes, and mouthpiece. I am now able to subtract this new “core” model from any custom model, as long as it has a similar-ish shape. The very first custom ocarina model I created was Snorlax. I admit… it looks kinda disturbing since the air inlet is basically his butthole, but I still think it’s a neat idea. Unfortunately I probably need to bring the cavity closer to the surface since this ocarina is broken as a PokéFlute.