3D Printed Castle cookie cutter. Source: WhiteClouds
3D Printed Castle cookie cutter. Source: WhiteClouds

Tell us about the project you’re working on.

Well, right now I am working on cookie cutters trying to find unique designs that are not available out there. I am also looking at customizing some of them like putting names or dates on them. I am also working on desktop toys and games. I have a gyroscope that had the planets on each ring as well as the distance that planet is from the sun. I also have a variety of puzzles; for instance, I have a 24 piece burr puzzle which traditionally is a wooden puzzle. I have a couple of pencil holders with gears on them.  I have also tried to get the walls thick enough on a home design and temples so that it will print on the Z Printer.

What inspires your designs?

With the cookie cutters, I have just searched on the internet to see what wasn’t out there that I could design. I was also thinking about what holidays there are as well as special occasions that someone might want a special cookie cutter for, like anniversaries, Halloween, baby showers, and different stuff like that. With the desktop toys and games, I have searched to see the stuff that is offered and what I could take from that. I also love little puzzles that are challenging so I thought how cool it would be to be able to print them. The pencil holder idea came from knowing how much Jerry (our CEO) loves moving gears and the need to organize things, so I took the gears that Krista (another designer) had and I put 4 sides on it and a bottom on it.

How is this design different from other products out there?

The cookie cutters offer something unique, something that is not easily accessible, and making it easy to find. I can also take and customize names and dates on different cookie cutters, something that not many people offer. After the use of the cookie cutter, it turns into a keepsake, something that you will always have to remind you of that special occasion. My gyroscope not only is a fun toy which is not unique but I turned it into an informational desktop accessory, something that has some fun facts on it. Nothing unique about a pencil holder really except mine is going to have moving gears on all 4 sides. I can make any kind of pencil holder that you could ever want.

How do you think your designs will help people or fill a need?

Well, the cookie cutters can be used for special occasions as well as some holiday items. If someone is unsure what to serve during a baby shower or book club I will have some special cookie cutters for them that will make figuring out what to serve easy. When I sit at a desk I like to fidget, so I am always playing with something so to have a gyroscope or a pencil holder with gears gives my fingers something to play with as well as a great conversational piece. My pencil holders are also functional for that exact purpose. There are certain areas in the state that require a 3D model of your home design before it can be built and we will be able to offer that.

What software do you use to create the designs?

I have been using Solid Works to create cookie cutters, pencil holders, desk top toys, and games. I have also been using 3ds Max Design to help with the houses/temples; this program helps to thicken objects and hopefully make them printable.

What 3D printer are you using to print the final design?

I have been using the Fortis as well as the UPrint to print the cookie cutters and the pencil holders; some of the other stuff I try out on the MakerBot first because it is a cheap way to test things. I have also used the Z Printer with the house and temple designs as that is the only printer we have at the moment that will print in color.

Tell us about your process from the start of a new design to finish.

Well, I start by researching online to find good designs or ideas. Then I take that idea and start to design in Solid Works making the adjustments that I think that it will need. From there if it is something that hasn’t been tried before like the pencil holder I print it to make sure that I don’t need to make any changes to the design.

What are your thoughts when you see your design 3D printed? Do you look for flaws and improve the design?

I think it is pretty cool to see my designs come to life. To be able to touch and feel them and examine them for flaws that needs to be changed. It is exciting to hold something that you created that you came up with.

What, if any post-production processes do you do?

For the ABS machines, you have to soak your parts in the ultrasonic tank to dissolve all the support material. For the ProJet, you have to stick the part in the oven to melt the support material off, then it goes into an ultrasonic tank to finish getting the wax out of any tight crevices. Then it either gets dyed or left transparent, then it gets a coat of lacquer.  For the Z Printer, it is a matter of blowing as much of the powder off as you can and brushing to finish getting the last layer of powder off. Then it takes a dip in a super-glue-like substance to harden the object.

What is the most common problem you’ve encountered and how did you solve it?

The problem I ran into with the pencil holder was just that it was so big that is was not cost effective to print. The problem I have had with the houses/temples was getting the walls thick enough so that they don’t collapse.

What is the most exciting thing about your work?

The most exciting thing is that I am not doing the same thing every day. I get to work on new stuff all the time, even if it is just a new cookie cutter. I am not designing nuts and bolts over and over again.

Finally, what tips would you give to home users trying to design the same type of thing?

Just use your imagination, the sky is the limit. If you can think it, chances are it can be drawn up and printed. When learning a 3d software, Google is your best friend— you can answer a lot of your questions there if you are struggling with a command. The forums are very helpful as well; if you can’t figure it out chances are someone out there knows the answer. 

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