Wedding Season

TL;DR: September 2021 was the craziest month I’ve ever had in terms of being involved with weddings… I had the honor of being in the wedding party for all 3 I was able to attend, and was able to make gifts for all three as well.

Without a doubt, 2021 and 2022 will go down as the crazy-busiest two-year timeframe for weddings in my life. If you haven’t heard, of it yet, a little thing called COVID19 came along and delayed most weddings from 2020 into 2021 and it seems like all the couples who didn’t drive each other insane during quarantine decided to get hitched.

September 2021 was undoubtedly my single busiest month ever—I had the honor of being in the bridal party for all three I was able to attend. I love weddings, they’re all always so much fun! For each of these three, I am proud to have crafted something special for each couple.

Early this year, my friend Jason commissioned me to design the party favors for his wedding. After going back and forth with a few Jason and his now wife Stephanie with a few design iterations, I completed the following final design–a sculpture of two swans with their initials (S & J) as the heads, which also doubled as a document holder able to display papers of arbitrary size.

These swans came in two colors and doubled as a namecard/document holder and as a practical favor guests could take home and reuse

I was very happy with how all of the favors turned out after several weeks of nonstop printing and finishing the parts by hand.

These swans can hold documents, photos, etc. of arbitrary size!

For the other two weddings (Jimmy & Cat; Solomon & Sabrina), I created very similar gifts—custom cards filled with words and phrases meaningful to the couples usable for a variety of games (monikers, charades, codenames, Pictionary, etc.)

In both cases, I am fortunate to have known nearly all members of both sides of the bridal party. I was able to I reach out and had everybody fill in a spreadsheet with words and definitions. Next, I gathered artwork to use for the front and back of each card–for the game Sabrina and SoloMonikers, I reached out to Sabrina’s brilliant designer sister who was able to whip up custom artwork.

Sabrina & SoloMonikers!

For Hao Peng Yu, I reached out to a caricature artist James and Cat previously commissioned for their Save the Dates and took some photos from their engagement shoots.

For Hao Peng Yu, I used engagement shoot photos for the front of the cards

I generated unique cards by populating the art files with words and definitions from the bridal party spreadsheets in GIMP via python script. Then I uploaded all the files to a fantastic card printer based in Hong Kong (makeplayingcards.com) who printed both ~500 card decks and had them at my door within 2 weeks! After the decks arrived, I sleeved all the cards and printed custom boxes to hold everything.

The box was custom sized to fit all the cards and a divider was included to help keep things a bit organized

I am very proud of how both decks of cards came out, and am grateful for all the help I had from all members of all four wedding parties. Things were too hectic at both weddings for us to play with the cards–a bit unfortunate, but EXTREMELY understandable. It’s just an excuse for us to all get together again in the near future though ;).

Looking back at this crazy September, I am delighted to have played a part in making the day special for each of these happy couples! The entire month felt like it was gone in the blink of an eye, yet I know we made enough memories to last a lifetime. Despite the exhaustion and a sense of relief of being “off the clock”, I wouldn’t have traded last month for anything.

Apiphany Design Launch!

TL;DR: I’m finally launching a store to sell my designs!! Check it out at www.apiphanydesign.com and @apiphanydesign on insta and facebook!   

It’s been a while since my last post because I’ve been working on an exciting new project which I’m finally ready to share. I’m finally launching my very own webstore to sell my designs!

The first product I designed was originally a sculpture I made for Tiff for Valentine’s Day—it’s a little plastic sculpture that says “love” and has this magic-like floating element attached. The first prototype was rough—I used thin copper wire to provide tension, but have since upgraded to using nearly invisible nylon since then, and have created several iterations.

I’m also incredibly excited about my 2nd product line available at launch—I’m going to be making a series of minimalist line drawing sculptures. The first design I’ve got ready to go is this shiba inu, but I’m in the process of finalizing a husky version next, and then I’ve got a couple more ideas that’ll be ready for Mother’s Day 😉

Oil Screen Hook

TL;DR: I designed and printed a custom hook to store our oil screen on the back of our cabinet door to save some space.  

Inspired by similar projects seen in various places online, I spent about an hour’s time measuring, designing, and printing a small custom hook to hang an oil screen on the back of a cabinet door.

Due to the simplicity of the part and the application, I decided to spend some time making deliberate choices to optimize performance. First was the design of the part itself. While I could have used a generic 3M command hook to achieve a similar effect, the tight custom fit of this hook prevents excessive movement and noise. Second, I decided to use PETG instead of PLA, a no-brainer for when strength is required. My last optimization was in the chosen print orientation. Despite requiring more support material, the orientation I used is actually ideal for the loading expected in this application. FDM printed parts are weakest parallel to the layer lines—that is, they are susceptible to delamination when loads pull the layers apart.

Quick project to save space in our pan cabinet.

That’s pretty much all I’ve got–here’s to a year full of fun projects in 2021!

Bailey Slow Feeder

TL;DR: I printed a slow feeder bowl for Bailey out of food safe filament and coated it with an FDA-compliant food safe resin. It works, but I think she hates it and me for making it.

I’ve wanted to experiment with 3D prints out of PETG for a while, and finally found some time to do so during this long Thanksgiving weekend. PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol-modified) is a 3D-printable plastic with numerous advantageous properties:

  • High strength
  • High density
  • High temperature
  • UV resistant
  • Food safe

The drawback is that it is a bit trickier than PLA (the most typical home 3D printed filament) to print. I invested an hour’s worth of time to adjust settings and complete two quick test prints before deciding I dialed my printer in enough to start a real project.

Our dog Bailey is a voraciously fast eater and I recently learned that various slow feeder bowls existed. However, most of the products on the market seem designed for larger dogs, and I wanted to make something that would fit in our existing holder. Spoiler image below:

Bailey’s custom slow feeder bowl fit perfectly!

The design of the bowl was straightforward. I measured the dimensions of our existing metal bowl, added another mm of thickness of the bowl for strength, added an extruded “B” in the middle to act as an obstacle, and finally made some cuts in the B to allow Bailey to access all the nooks and crannies. I took care to fillet any sharp edges away to ensure safety:

Left: Top view, Right: Iso view. I cut the “B” into an arch so Bailey could reach all the food and made sure to fillet all sharp edges.

The quality of my first real PETG print exceeded my expectations… Based on troubles I’ve read about people having, I expected some blobs/zits or stringing issues, but surprisingly, I didn’t have any real problems at all. The ease of support material separation was shocking too–99.8+% of my support came off in a single piece, and the remaining two pieces were easily removed with pliers:

Top: 3D print in various stages of completion. Bottom: Removal of support material. I was surprised at the great quality, high strength, and ease of support material for my first PETG print.

After the print was complete, I coated the bowl with this neat FDA 21 CFR 175.300 compliant resin I bought a while ago but hadn’t tried out before. The biggest pain point with the coating process was the 48-hour cure time.  Luckily this was a long weekend, haha.

Right: Top view of bowl post resin. Left-Top: Showing off shininess of the bowl. Left-Bottom: Water beading up on the print after washing. Not pictured: 48 hours of waiting, and the popsicle stick, old tofu container, and paintbrush all sacrificed to make this happen.

After washing the bowl with soap and water, I tested it out with Bailey by putting in a few training treats. She did not look very happy…

She eventually came around to eating, but clearly wasn’t happy:

I hope she doesn’t hate me forever because of this…

Does she look most annoyed, confused, angry, or disappointed?

Quarantine Wall Decor

TL;DR: Tiff and I took advantage of a few lazy quarantine weekends to plan and create a few custom pieces of wall décor.

A few weeks ago, I posted photos previewing string art Tiff and I started working on. We planned a series of four. While she focused on making the most adorable one, three fell to me. For the background of pieces, we upcycled an old dress otherwise destined for Goodwill. This was my first string art project in about 7 years and actually found the act of stringing quite meditative and refreshing.

A series of four string artworks we completed during the Great Coronatine of 2020

As a bonus art project, we also created a shattered mirror piece. I purchased “sliceable” adhesive-backed plastic mirrors for a different project but first wanted to experiment with how easily cut the parts were. I doodled a geometric hummingbird design while Tiff picked colors for and assembled the background from cardstock we had laying around. Cutting the mirror was harder than I expected, but got much better by the end.

I originally intended to add a simplified geometric rose to match the rest of the aesthetic, but it was difficult for my friends to figure out what it was. We went with a bundle of curvy cherry blossoms instead, and I think I dig the contrast in shape and colors.

Upper Right: Finished work; Everything else: various stages of planning/making

Baymax Cord Lock

TL;DR: A cord lock for Tiff’s hat broke… so I made a replacement shaped like Baymax since I had white material installed in my printer and I was too lazy to change it, haha.

Tiff got a great sun hat from a friend’s beach birthday party last year. I use it almost every day when walking Bailey. I noticed that the cord lock was starting to break, so I decided to make something useful while scratching my maker itch now that the need for PPE has declined.

Since I currently have black TPU (an elastic material not really suited for this application) installed in one printer, white PLA installed in my other, and a severe lazy streak, I needed to design something white and ovoid.

White? Check. Ovoid? Check. Fun? Check Check Check.

With proper source material in place, knocking out the design was straightforward for me. I decided to use the sculpting tools in Fusion 360. Sculpting is great for quickly making organic shapes that don’t require a lot of exact dimensions. Fusion makes it super easy to combine sculpted forms with parametrically defined features as well. I split Baymax’s body into two parts, one main body and a removable front plate to install the spring and legs.

Sculpt and boolean tools in Fusion 360 made designing and cutting the parts up for 3d printing a breeze!

Since the part was very small, I initially had some troubles with Cura deciding some areas (primarily the cut out for feet to retract into the body for cord installation) were so thin that I must not have wanted material there. I solved this problem by reshaping the Baymax body a bit and scaling the parts up by roughly 15%.

Functional? Check.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the results… despite it looking slightly terrifying, IMO… like Baymax lost a fight. Maybe I should have gone with some sort of squid ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

As always, hope everybody is staying safe and healthy!

UPDATE: 7/25/2020:

Looking at the Baymax cord lock I made last week depressed me because it looks like his body is getting pierced by some sort of tentacled foe. I decided to replace it by designing a Blooper (the squid thing from Mario games), since it is also white, but looks natural with long arms:

I think Blooper looks better than Baymax cause the strings are tentacles XD

I used all the same tools I used for Baymax to make Blooper, but it was much faster the second time around. While I like this cord lock looks better, but Tiff doesn’t like it because of all the legs, hahaha ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Window Sill Shelf

TL;DR: It gets hot in SoCal so I overengineered a shelf to hold a fan to blow cool air into our bedroom at night.

Just a quick post this time—I decided to put my printer to work making another functional print! SoCal is a desert, so it gets very hot during the day, but cooler at night. A few days this past week were especially brutal. To help circulate the air at night, we use a little Vornado fan, but its effectiveness wanes when it doesn’t have access to cooler air.

A simple, but effective design. I originally intended to print the shelf itself too, but I found a piece of wood that I’ll cut later to eliminate the use of this piece of cardboard, haha.

I designed a very simple shelf comprised of brackets, a brace, and the shelf itself. I sized the brackets specifically for our bedroom windowsill. There is a very satisfying click during installation, but the shelf is very easily removable in case we need to close the window.

I didn’t end up printing the shelf part because I found a piece of spare wood which will work perfectly, and I installed a piece of cardboard until I find time to cut it. Although this specific design isn’t super generalizable, I decided to upload it to thingiverse anyway in case anybody is inspired to made minor modifications to fit their needs:

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4462927

Stay safe and healthy!

#BlackLivesMatter Gear

TL;DR: I believe #BlackLivesMatter. I still can’t say anything more eloquently than what has been said by others elsewhere, so I’m going to chip into the cause in my own way. If you’ve donated to a reputable social justice charity, I’m more than happy to send you some 3D Printed #earsavers or touch-free door openers.

Despite law enforcement agencies across the country telegraphing they don’t believe so, black lives do matter. To help the cause in a small way, I designed a new earsaver and a touch-free door opener/keypad stylus.

The earsaver is a modified version of the NIH-approved design found here: https://3dprint.nih.gov/discover/3dpx-013615. No critical outside dimensions were altered, and the part remains very flexible. Earsavers are very useful for anybody who needs to wear a mask (aka EVERYBODY WHO LEAVES THEIR HOME). You put this on the back of your head and hook your mask straps around it instead of around your ears. This takes the pressure off your ears and makes wearing the mask much more tolerable.

I modified an NIH-approved design to allow wearers to show solidarity with the movement.

Creating the door opener/stylus was a bit more involved; I created the design from scratch, using a few existing designs as inspiration. The hook is useful for opening door handles without touching the surfaces. A strip of copper tape wrapped around the fist allows the stylus to function on capacitive touch screens, as long as you touch the bottom of the strip with your thumb. This is useful for pressing buttons at the self-checkout line in grocery stores.

This touch-free door opener doubles as a stylus useful for hitting capacitive-touch buttons at self-checkouts. The strip of copper tape is the secret-sauce which allows this functionality.

If you’d like some of these doodads, I’m happy to send them to you free of charge. Since I literally finalized the design at lunch today, I don’t have a huge stockpile right now. For now, I’m going to prioritize those who have donated to reputable social justice related charities, but I aim to eventually provide these for anybody who wants them, so feel free to reach out!

COVID: Endgame

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.

This is what ~50 lbs of empty filament spools looks like

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.

Quick update — now with earsavers!

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 earsavers (https://3dprint.nih.gov/discover/3dpx-013759) 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:

Left: 75x frames and 260x earsavers ready to be delivered this weekend
Right-Top: I’ve chewed through quite a bit of material… each spool is 2 kg >.<
Right-Bottom: 100x frames and 400x shields delivered last week

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!