3D Printing / Digital Fabrication

This is something I’ve been looking at for ages but my interest never crested above the prohibitive cost of entry point. That being said, after looking into printers recently, I saw there was a cheap printer explosion last year and I presently have a Creality CR-10s (slowly) en route from China.

I’ve seen bits and bobs on the forum here, so I’m guessing some of you are into 3D printing / digital fabrication stuff, so it might be worthwhile to have a thread on it.

I’ve got a list of things I want to print and experiment with, like @sergemodular 's Norns case, and an improved/tweaked version of my Novation Dicer snare bracket(Thingiverse). But beyond that I want to explore more music oriented things, like instrument modifications/extensions, controller related stuff, etc…

I think @Angela will have a blast too, using it to make art objects and such. (I remember being really blown away back when I saw PussyKrew’s 3D Printed art)

So yeah, what are people printing/making?


For a long while, I was slightly anti-3D-printing. I find additive manufacture a bit strange at times - it’s often used to make slightly shonky things that could be made subtractively (ie: cutting material/extruded forms) much better. It didn’t help that for a long while I find the quality of FDM printing - ie, filament + nozzle, a la Makerbot - pretty offputting.

A lot of my digital manufacture has, instead, been focused on lasercutting - primarily for panels, but also for enclosures, or building test jigs. I prefer to focus on these tools as part of rapid prototyping - being able to make exactly the right thing on demand - rather than making final forms. Also: cutting nice materials leads to things that still feel surprisingly high-quality when complete. Although I’m less interested in laser-cut boxes these days, because they just look so… bodged and handmade.

I’m coming around to 3D printing thanks to a few things:

  • actually learning CAD. I ended up learning this to make 3D things that could be made on the lasercutter, but of course, now I’ve learned enough to just design 3D things The Right Size and get them made. So that pile of skills (which was slow-going - similar curve for me to PCB layout) has suddenly made designing 3D objects much more viable.
  • not owning a printer, but outsourcing. For instance, when I built the half-moon switch for my Nord, I sent the CAD files to Shapeways and got them to SLS (selective-laser-sinter) them, and the quality of that stuff is great:
  • The firm I’m contracting at has picked up a Formlabs Form 2 which we’re using on my project and wow, I’m totally sold on SLA (stereo lithography). It’s gloopy and strange, but the quality we’re getting out… well, the full rig costs twice what a Makerbot Replicator+ does (high-ish-end PLA printing) but the quality feels, to my mind, at least 2x as good - and with finishing is very, very usable. It’s also fast, quiet, and the tooling is great. Really impressed. It’s been useful to be reminded about 3D printing beyond PLA, basically.

3D printing is also really useful as an interim process - one thing it’s been used a lot for in the past with my current colleagues is printing prototypes to make moulds from, and then cast at high quality with resin. Really handy for that.

Summary: I keep an eye on it, and do a bunch with rapid manufacture and CAD (especially these days designing forms to go around electronics I’ve designed), but the thing I end up using least is actually printing stuff - when I have a nice panel I want to make, I’d rather just do 5 minutes of cutting on plastic or metal than a few hours of fusing gloop together. But prototyping and manufacture is part of my work, hence joining in this thread!


Really interesting stuff, just did not find the time to dive into. But I am following the development 3D printing electronics. Those printers are still too expensive yet, but that may change in foreseeable future.

Just my 2cents

I’ve written it off for a long time as well, due to the ‘quality’ of the stuff, but after working with that guy on the snare bracket, it changed my mind in that it looks good, and would have been impossible to do any other way.

I also want to explore some of the more exotic PLAs when I have a design finished that I want to look good (like one of the wood PLAs or something).

It’s definitely not “sell to someone else” quality, but at the same time it would let me make all sorts of contraptions that will be very useful.

The SLA stuff looks crazy, but is way out of my price range and also looks way too complicated to keep around the house for an occasional print. That being said, if I nail a design I like, I can try to have it printed elsewhere and mailed.

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I’ve been at my local hackspace quite a lot recently laser cutting panels for eurorack and 3d printing a film camera. the process is long, and frustrating, but the closest thing to magic I’ve experienced.

It depends on what you want to make. My little CNC mill (Sherline CNC-ready 5400 mill + LinuxCNC and Gecko stepper drive) can cut steel or anything else (with the right tooling) to very close tolerances and costs about the same as an upscale hobbyist-grade 3D printer. That machine plus my manual metal lathe (also Sherline) constitutes a small machine shop capable of making virtually anything within the size capabilities of the machines.

A 3D printer can make stuff I’d need a couple of extra axes for (to say nothing of $$$$ controller and CAM software to run it!), so there are tradeoffs. Each can make parts the other can’t.

I wouldn’t mind having one of the cheap 40W laser engravers to do panel legends and such, but and engraving head for the mill might make more sense: is there anything prettier than enamel-filled engraving? :heart_eyes:

So finally got my CR-10s last week and set it up.

I have to say I’m pretty impressed with how functional it is. I totally screwed up levelling the bed at the start so the first millimetre or so was just getting mushed into the glass, but I manage to print a whole bunch of things that way.

After figuring it out, and levelling it properly I’ve been printing off some music bits. I prototyped a Dax from Hans Reichel’s Daxophone.

I want to get one made out of wood properly, but this was a way to test out size and scale and such. (there is a pdf of instructions online but the older version of the pdf I had didn’t have any details on the dimensions of the Dax, so I had to reverse engineer it from diagrams of the housing)

So yeah, nothing massively exciting (yet), but still a new world of possibilities to get into.

I totally forgot I made this thread a while back. I’ve been bumping the ///pictures/// thread like crazy with all my 3d prints.

For now I’ll stick the really 3d-printed posts here (including a couple of unification pics from the other thread).

First, my modified Dicer Mount which I adapted to be suitable for a DIY DJ Crossfader:

Then I designed and printed a bigger grip/holder for my Naiant mic, that I use for friction/feedback playing on snare:

I’m still iterating over the design, but the version I have feels really good as it stands.


Now onto some new pics…

First, I got really anal retentive over the “lag” on my DIY crossfader. Even though I’m using an external ADC (ADS1115) and the Teensy code I wrote has a calibration routine, I found that I had about 2mm of dead space at each end of the fader throw. I took out a multimeter and figured out that for the first 2mm (or so) of the fader, the values of the slider pot actually move backwards!

Eventually I want to upgrade this to a fancy Rane Magnetic/Contactless Fader, but for now I printed up a bunch of little shims in various sizes to physically solve the problem:

Here one is inserted into the fader:

(as an aside, this approach actually worked too well, so I came up with some clever Max patching to apply a schmitt trigger to the amplitude scaling, so it cuts in immediately, and then cuts out at a higher threshold than it cut in, for best-of-both-worlds response)

Next up, I got the idea to make a little housing/weight for my Leafcutter John contact mic so that I can easily move it on/off the snare (or other surfaces) without having to use adhesives. I’m surprised I’ve not come across this before, but after iterating over it around 5 times I got something pretty slick:

The sketches and a few of the prototypes:

An inset 8mm nut to hold the “screw hat” on, as well as add a bit of extra weight:

The outer body is threaded for 20mm / 2.5, so I was able to just screw this huge nut onto:

Here it is fully assembled:

The bottom, with 6 holes for some neodymium magnets which I’ve ordered off eBay. I may also experiment with some inserted Moongels too, to kind of mechanically hold it put too:

I played with dimensions a ton, getting it super low profile, so only a tiny bit of the contact mic sticks out:

Here it is on the drum. The idea will be to keep it hanging off the side of the drum until I want it, then pivot it over and go to town, then move it out of the way again.

Quick demo video:

It weighs 83grams, which is heavy enough to keep it put, but not so heavy that it dampens the mic. Will see how the magnets respond, as it would be great to be able to slap it onto a (non-horizontal) metal surface easily too.

If anyone is interested I can share the .stl file, but still working on it I think.


New to 3d printing myself.

I bought an Ender 3 after seeing this project which was done using the same machine, and realizing how inexpensive they are:

I have yet to complete that project, but I just designed and printed a snap together 3d case for my fates:

That uses a couple dollars worth of plastic and takes about 8 hours to print. It’s definitely hard to iterate on a design when the speed is so slow (it took me 3 tries to get to something workable). Still it’s a lot of fun to be able to design something and hold it in your hands a few hours later.


I’ve worked in a fabrication studio for my local library, as a technician for about 6 yrs. We’ve had a lot of different 3d Printers and part of my job has been maintenance and education. I have a lot of experience and opinions on 3D Printers so I am happy to answer any questions folks might have!

My current obsession is 3D printing with ceramics. I’ve been very inspired by the work of Bryan Cera in particular. I’ve done some experiments making speaker cones from clay, with transducers. I am interested how far I can push this technology. I am working on a Tripteron (like this) design to try and realize this. They are similar to delta’s like the kossel in that the bed doesn’t move and the motion is almost entirely linearized

Attached is a pic of the first 3D printer I ever built, circa 2013ish


This could probably have just have easily lived in the Teensy based DIY projects thread, but I was most excited about solving a functional problem with my (ever improving!) 3d design/fabrication skills.

I bought a Dunlop DVP4 (mini volume/expression pedal) for the express purpose of modifying it to be a passive volume pedal and/or a 14-bit USB-MIDI Teensy-based expression pedal, with direct USB out.

The pedal has loads of room inside, and has the perfect amount of available jacks for what I have in mind.

The tricky part was finding a way to (elegantly) mount a USB jack. Because of the size of the enclosure and how the jacks line up, there’s definitely not enough room for the typical extension cable I use. I experimented with some threaded-type approach where I “wrap” the micro-USB breakout board and insert that through the 1/4" opening, but that didn’t work too well.

In the end I came up with this flat washer-type solution that holds the breakout board in place, and is itself held in place mechanically by the other jacks threading through it:

I then threw in some new jacks (the original design has everything coming off of a single PCB, jacks included) and wired up the passive volume pedal part, then ran all the wiring for the Teensy (and ADS1115).

Here’s what the guts look like when done:

And the slick look of the micro USB jack from the outside:


Do any of you have a laser cutter and/or CNC machine?

I’ve been seeing a whole bunch of cheap CNC machines showing up in reviews, and although they are fairly compact, and I’m sure modest/moderate quality, it would be a fantastic addition to other stuff I’m doing.

Stuff like this:

So if anyone has any experience with budget machines like this (or similar), would be great to hear your thoughts/experiences.


On a more general note, I’m kind of wondering whether I would be better off with a laser cutter or a CNC machine. I’d say 90% of what I’d want to use it for is for enclosures and mounts, similar to things I’ve been posting in this thread. So I’m wondering if laser cut wood/plexi would be able to do the trick, or if having the option to do Z-axis work is worthwhile (making pseudo-monome-esque wooden enclosures).

Also, is it naive to think that you can use a CNC in a similar way as you would a laser cutter? (like cutting out thin wood/plexi enclosures, as one might with a laser cutter). I’m guessing it’s harder to get hard 90degree corners(?), and presumably it takes longer too?


In terms of software/machine, almost all the CNC/laser videos I’ve seen have people using dinky (Windows) netbooks as what appear to be dedicated gcode serving machines. Are there no octoprint equivalents (that play nicely with a mac)?


(Ok, so after a couple days of passive research I’ve found answers to some of my questions, so I’ll just respond to myself on here in case anyone else comes across the thread and finds it useful.)

Looks like there are a ton of “3018” machines out there. Lots of variations, improvements, “pro”, and “new” editions. The ones with the black frame appear to be the “new” ‘sturdier’ version. In the end I think I’ll go with something like this, that comes with some extra fixings, including an additional laser which you can swap out with the stock spindle:

It looks like some variants of the 3018 say that they can’t cut through acrylic, and only ‘engrave’ it. I’ve seen people do it, so maybe it’s a combination of using upgraded machines and/or having appropriate speed/feedrate/etc… settings so you don’t just melt everything.

Similarly, for wood, it appears that laser is better for making enclosure things (hence my finding one that comes with a laser too).

It appears that all these (3018) machines use GRBL, which is an open source gcode serving platform. This only runs on Windows (and maybe Linux?). However, here are newer/“pro” versions of the machine which come with an “offline controller”:

That lets you not only manually control the machine, but also serve up gcode from an SD card.

I did find a plugin for Octoprint that runs GRBL, which I will look into if/when I get a machine:

(So there you go, maybe some of what I’ve found isn’t accurate, but I at least have some answers to some of my initial questions.)

Did you come across the mostly printed CNC (MPCNC) in your research? I don’t know much about it, but within the realm of low cost CNC solutions it seems like an interesting option (albeit one that requires some DIY and a 3d printer): https://www.v1engineering.com/

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Only seen it a bit. In principle it’s a good idea, but after seeing the video below I was put off. Primarily because apparently the “easily available” parts, aren’t really the case in the EU, which brings the price up a bit, but also how he handled copyright stuff is pretty shitty too:

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Ah, I wasn’t aware of those things!

Check out the Cyclone PCB Factory for a compact, open source 3D printed mill. It can be built for roughly the price of the Chinese kits with the added benefit of being entirely customizable. I use mine for PCBs and panels

I would steer clear of laser if you are a home gamer. Online kits tend to oversell their capabilities. At best I would call most engravers not cutters. Also eye damage and carbon monoxide poisoning (more powerful lasers) are nothing to mess with.

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I’ve built an MPCNC, I wish it was more rigid.

I’m not really sure what to make of this copyright issue. It feels a little like creating internet controversy for Youtube views though. There are so many derivative MPCNC parts and improvements that go beyond the original design, and there has never been an issue from Ryan. Potentially the non-commercial clause is warranted to discourage people pumping out cheap MPCNC kits/parts through ebay that he will end up supporting through his forum? There’s obviously a ton of work gone into the original design, and the proportion of MPCNC builds that purchased parts from him are pretty low. He’s got to protect his living somehow.

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Ah, cool to hear someone has built one of these! What do you mean, when you say you wish it was more rigid, and how does that manifest itself with regard to the quality/precision of the cuts?

I was reading some Xcarve vs. Shapeoko comparisons, and one of the complaints about the former was that is not as “rigid” – so maybe this is a common problem with CNCs?.

Also, do you think the MPCNC is a worthwhile investment (time + $$$) given the issues you had…?


I have read the fumes are really bad, so was thinking of putting it somewhere outside when laser cutting was required.

With the perils of home laser-ing in mind, what do you reckon of being able to CNC/mill interlocking enclosures out of acrylic/plywood ala what one would generally do with a laser?

I had no idea about any drama until seeing that video (which I thought was about something else initially). By the time I saw the video the tweets/thread had been deleted, so hard to take it in in context. Thomas doesn’t strike me to be overly dramatic, but I only recently started following him on Youtube.

I get that, although that seems philosophically out of step with open source design (even if non-commercial).