Adding magic to the mundane, one filament at a time.

Tag: 3D

Another Bump in the Road

Delayed Launch

Welcome back! We had hoped to announce our Etsy shop launch in today’s blog, but sadly we need to postpone it a bit. With luck it’ll only be a short delay.

Blocked Nozzles

Our 3D printer extruder nozzle became blocked, and then so did our back up nozzle, leaving us with no way to print anything. We’ve ordered more replacement nozzles which should arrive today, and equipment and supplies for nozzle cleaning which should arrive later this week, so we should be back up and running very soon. (Is the word “nozzle” starting to sound funny to you? It is to me!)

Themed Game Pieces

We do have the designs complete for our first two custom themed sets of game pieces! We’re very excited to launch our Etsy shop with them, but of course that only works if we can actually produce them. We’ll showcase them here as soon as they’re available, but since that’s not yet the case, we’ll avoid posting spoilers for now.

Photo Studio

Despite our new production delay, we’ve continued to get things set up in other areas. We had fun setting up our mini photo studio, for taking good quality photos of our products. We started with these instructions, and then modified them to suit our needs.

Here is our result!

Business Progress

We’ve also gone ahead with setting up the business side of things. We already had our business properly registered as “3D Orcs Printing Company, LLC”. This week we opened our company bank account, set up our bookkeeping records, and acquired packaging to fulfill orders.

On Your Mark, Get Set, …

We’ve now got everything ready to launch our business! Except, of course, the ability to actually produce anything. But that should be resolved today, and by next week’s blog we really should be ready to announce our launch!

3D Roller Coaster


Welcome back to our blog! This week we’ll talk about our 3D roller coaster. No, not a cool toy we printed, but rather the emotional ups and downs of our first week getting to know our new 3D printer.

It began last week with the printer’s arrival and set up. But the real fun started when we turned it on and tried to use it.


Before we could print anything, we needed to have something to print. Like with a traditional printer where you need to have a document first. So, what to print?

I mentioned last week that our initial focus will be board game accessories. We wanted something simple to start with, so we decided on a road piece from Settlers of Catan. In case you’re not familiar with the game, this is what the piece looks like – just a thin rectangle about an inch long.

The first task was to create a 3D model of it. We had looked at a couple tools for that, and settled on Blender. It’s an incredible tool, especially considering it’s free. Blender can do amazing things far beyond the requirements of 3D printing (animation, rendering with textures, and special effects like smoke, just to name a few). The downside of such a complex tool is that sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to do something relatively straightforward.

Although we’re still early in that learning curve, we managed to come up with our first 3D model.

It turns out you can’t just send a 3D model to the printer. First you need to convert it to a set of instructions the printer can understand. This is called “slicing” (because it slices your model into distinct printable layers), and produces a g-code file. There are several slicers out there, but our printer manufacturer recommended Cura so that’s what we went with.

The final thing we needed to do before printing was prepping the printer. We had set it up, but it still needed the glass print bed to be properly cleaned and leveled. The latter was another challenge, but finally we were ready.

The First Attempts

So with our model created, our g-code file prepared, and the printer ready to go, we initiated our first print!

And this was the result.

Our roller coaster had taken a major drop.

But we kept trying, and learning, and tweaking things here and there.

Another early attempt was at least starting to show some promise.

Picking Up Speed

Eventually we did it! We had created a small plastic stick! Woo hoo!!!

Once we had the hang of it, we were off and running. Soon we had all of the basic Catan pieces.

It was time for something more challenging. We decided on a train piece for Ticket to Ride. There were some minor missteps along the way, and we’re still making small adjustments, but it’s coming along nicely.

The Big Drop

Things were going well, but there were some seemingly minor issues with the first layer of each print. We determined that the problem was with the leveling process we were using, and so we found and followed this helpful leveling video by YouTuber Tesla Filament.

But in doing so we discovered a problem with the way the print bed was physically attached to the printer. I made the required adjustments, re-leveled the bed, and suddenly the filament would no longer adhere to the bed at all.


More than a day passed, full of research, tweaking, and failed print attempts. It was also full of doubts and questioning whether this whole endeavour was actually viable.

In the end though, we persevered. A trip to Home Depot for some washers to use as spacers and an increasing understanding of the printer’s leveling interface were enough to get the prints to start working again.

With a growing string of successful prints we are once again confident that we can make this work!

Our experience with 3D printing brings to mind how the early days of the automobile must have been, once they were readily available but you still needed to be comfortable with a wrench if you wanted them to work.

Next Steps

Now that we’re up and running again, we’re back on track to opening the Etsy shop. With a little luck, that will be the topic of next Monday’s blog. Plus, we’re working on an exciting new seasonally relevant product design!

Unboxing Our Future


Hi there! Welcome to our journey into the world of 3D printing!

For a while now, my wife Lois and I (hi, I’m Kevin!) have been talking about starting our own business. We’ve had lots of ideas (we’re both very creative people), but none of them really materialized. Until now.

Lois was browsing the internet one day and excitedly called me over to look at something. She had stumbled across some really amazing 3D prints. When I saw them I was blown away!

Then I started thinking – that feeling I had when I saw them, that’s the feeling I want people to have when they interact with our business. Amazement, wonder, and “I want that!” Could we do that with 3D printing?

Besides being creative, we also both have technical backgrounds. It seemed like a good fit. But creating a business takes a lot more than desire and aptitude.

Research and Decisions

There’s so much to learn! Both about 3D printing, and about running a business. We dove into the research, taking notes, making lists, creating spreadsheets. (We both love our spreadsheets!)

We finally decided on the Anet ET5X 3D printer . It seemed like a good balance between cost, features, and ease of use. With a click of a button, it was ordered, and we were on our way!

While waiting for it to arrive, we looked into all the requirements for starting and running a business. We’ll be selling on Etsy, and operating as “3D Orcs Printing Company, LLC”. Yes, we’re aware that it makes the URL for our blog site look like “3 dorcs”. That pun was kind of the point.

We also needed to decide where to focus our business. There are so many things you can 3D print! But after considering a lot (and I mean A LOT) of options, we kept coming back to games. We’re both avid gamers (one day I’ll tell you about our wedding – trust me, it’s connected), and so we’ll start with board game accessories.


Our printer arrived yesterday!

Our first glimpse was very exciting!

But we soon discovered why the manufacturer uses the term “DIY”. It came partially assembled and we needed to finish putting it together.

The instruction sheet that came with it would probably have been fine for someone who has worked with other 3D printers, but it left many questions for us noobs. YouTube to the rescue! Videos for the ET5 (by YouTuber “Find Discount Price”) and the ET5 Pro (by “Mr. NVC Restoration”) were both close enough to our ET5X that they were immensely helpful. Thanks!

Our 3D printer is ready to go!

Now we need to play with it and learn what it can really do. Come back next Monday for a look at our first experiences with our new tech toy!