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My 3D Junque Factory

Not MY Plastic!

I have taken a serious look at hobbyist level 3D printing. Two kinds of hobbyists. The ones tinkering with the hardware and software (firmware) still stuck in the RepRap phase (and loving it!) – building a “better” machine that can build itself. The other hobbyist is the plastic Junque maker (like me) printing tons of plastic on Chinese made hardware. 

No US manufacturer of 3D printers can really compete (in price) in the base hobbyist market with US made hardware. Printing Hobby Junque doesn’t make sense using a $2500 to $10,000+ commercial US machine.

Perhaps a few deep pockets may go there.

As a hobbyist at the Junque-maker level, I find it very difficult to create anything from plastic that has any real intrinsic long-term value for anyone but myself. Many clever and useful small items like a decorative vase, bowl, or other container, but nothing on a sustainable resale production level of great worth.

How many plastic skulls does one person need. Some 3D print-makers obviously require more than others.

The real hobby value of 3D printing is the design skills developed using 3D CAD or 3D Graphic Drawing software. The printer then provides the tangible output or proof of a drawn concept. It proves what was drawn on the computer can become a proof-of-concept item. 

The item may still be plastic Junque, but that is OK.

Making Junque with a $200 to $700 printer is not a crime. It’s a form of creative fun. A Nerd-Tech toy. The hardware (at that cost) does not have to make a substantial (or any) return on investment. For me it is an investment in entertainment and improvement of creative drawing skills. 

Just operating the printer is not a career move. However, it IS very good mental practice of problem solving involving a huge number of variables. As well as mechanical skills practice with near constant maintenance and repairs. All part of the “fun”.

I hope with all my heart that teaching 3D printing in grade school is not just about operating a 3D printer as a possible career. No more than the table saw is a tool used in woodworking. It’s the design-from-scratch and the PRODUCT CREATED that are the proper focus. Be a furniture design/engineer/maker, not a table-saw operator.

The hobbyist grade 3D printer is a good plastic model maker. As a kid I assembled a lot of plastic models. Revel, Bachman, etc.. I never asked myself, “What are these models good for?” They were models. End of reasoning. I was happy to possess the model… for a while.

The 3D printer is the same story. Now I make plastic stuff and plastic Junque that I design. It doesn’t come as molded parts in a kit box. I am no longer that 12 year old model builder, assembling someone else’s kit design with injection-molded parts.

I admit having put a lot of thought into how plastic 3D printing could become an income stream for for the advanced hobbyist. 

There are folks who use 3D printing to produce plastic models. Perfect application. But I see that as a very narrow opportunity for profit. War-game models and fantasy games. I have no idea of that market. For a personal collection I can understand. But… How many paying customers are standing in line waiting for a miniature Thor holding a hammer created by a guy printing them in layers of plastic in his garage? Surprise me.

If I were still a model train layout builder, I’d be making lots of model parts with 3D printing. That’s probably not a modern hobby for anyone under age 50 (or older) these days.

The 3D printing justification for me is to find a nice specialized plastic model-making niche and exploit it to the best of my abilities. Then just have fun doing it. That’s the only vision I could conjure. If it is making Junque, then that is just how it is…

The majority (51+%) of items made on a hobbyist 3D printer are either a model of something non-plastic, or a copy of something normally made cheaper or better with injection moulded plastic, or a prototype concept model, which is also a model.

I admit a lot of my printing is done “just because I can”.

The really professional end-use 3D Print-produced products, are made where high end commercial machines earn their keep. By definition hobbies seldom need financial justification, just pleasure for those involved. But sometimes a hobby can become much like a factory job if ROI destroys all the enjoyment.

HOW MUCH TIME?

I know I am not the first or only person to ponder this question. Probably every human on earth has given this some thought if they have had enough of time. 

When I was young, say before 20 years of age, I am sure I gave it consideration. How long will I live? It was of little importance. Old age was a long way off. Nothing of which to be concerned.

Twenty more years passed. I was saving for something called “retirement” But that was more than twenty years away. But I was thinking about time a bit harder.

Another twenty years. I am still working hard at my “real” job. I have started to create a garage workshop with all the “toys” I would someday have the time with which to be creative and “make stuff”. 

Age 67 my “employer” decided I was a greater age / health risk than an asset to the firm, so made the “retirement” decision for me. All cordial and stuff, but there was the door… Make room for younger minds with less caution and wisdom of age (and lower salary).

OK, now was the time to think about time in a real sense. Could I have now reached the future? Yes, in a way. It was the future from the view of younger eyes, but now becomes the present. The future is still out there.

Almost age 75 (in December), the future sure looks like a much smaller space in time. I appear to be moving much faster toward that vanishing point. Hmm… a strange way to consider the future.

After three quarters of a century, I have realized I no longer need to plan or put off things for the future. The distance to the future has become much smaller than when I first thought about time. In fact, I am presently living that early view of the future.

The new rules for life say to live for the present. As it has nearly merged with the future. I do not need to save anything for later. Later has arrived.

The future is now and may extend another 20 years. I have no real control over time. When it’s over for me, I won’t feel a thing. I will not be able to look back and think of what is left that I wanted to do, say, or happen.

Must take care of those thing today. Tomorrow never comes is a true statement. Tomorrow is the future and a totally non-reachable vanishing point in time.

Everything I do happens today. The future is a plan. Planning is totally fine but “doing” today is the only thing that produces tangible results.

My plan for the future is to be as tangible today as I possibly can. Usually called, “Live for the day.” Tomorrow never comes.

KautzCraft Studio

Originally I created the KautzCraft Studio website and brand name to identify and promote my lost wax cast silver jewelry. I created an on-line e-commerce website to present those jewelry creations for purpose of sale. 

Honestly, my websites have attracted more attention from promoters who think they can manage my micro business better than I can. It’s all about search engine secrets only they understand. There is way more business “about the business” than the business itself. 

I am not looking for world wide web dominance so the hundred SEO emails a month are barking up the wrong tree. The only thing it proves is that […] Continue reading » KautzCraft Studio

Tick – Tock

Got off on a mental side trip this morning

I have been doing some repair / time tuning on a long case pendulum clock (a.k.a. grandfather’s clock) in my home. I know the swing period of the pendulum is what regulates the accuracy of the time keeping.

Lengthen the pendulum which slows the period of oscillation and the clock runs slower. Shorten length for faster timing (which should be obvious.)

I started timing the “ticks” with the seconds displayed on my smartphone digital clock. I assumed the ticks should be related to the seconds ticking by. But this is not exactly the case!

The ticks were close to one […] Continue reading » Tick – Tock

Just Ask

Before it is too late…

I just read one of those “paid by the column-inch” web articles that proliferate the internet. I linked the column-inch term as many readers (the one or two) of this blog may not be familiar with the term. The articles are usually very trivial as the author is getting paid by the inch to fill the space available.

Here is the core of that story. Time changes peoples views and scope of what has meaning to them. The articles topic was. “Why there is no big interest in family heirlooms and hand-me-downs.” Precious old items old folks hang on to thinking […] Continue reading » Just Ask