Tips of the Week: Finishing 3D Parts, Heating Flexi Filament, Building Irresistible Spaces, and Reducing Plastic Waste

Tips of the Week: Finishing 3D Parts, Heating Flexi Filament, Building Irresistible Spaces, and Reducing Plastic Waste

Tips of the Week is our weekly peek at some of the best making tips, tricks, and recommendations we’ve discovered in our travels. Check in every Friday to see what we’ve discovered. And we want to hear from you. Please share your tips, shortcuts, best practices, and tall shop tales in the comments below and we might use your tip in a future column.


Make Your Space Irresistible

I recently made a big change to my hobby work space and that change has had a huge impact. For years, I have had my hobby workstation (where I model and paint gaming miniatures and terrain) on a pull-down bookshelf desk in my library. It was cramped, uncomfortable, and out-of-sight. A few months ago, I moved my operation into my main office/workshop (onto a desktop that, for years, had basically been a dump site). I reorganized everything, found better storage and paint display solutions, and upgraded my lighting. The different has been dramatic. I can’t wait to find the time each day to work at the new desk. I only have to slide my Aeron workchair from my computer/writing desk to my hobby desk. During the day, when I need to take a break, I slide on over for 15-20 minutes and do some painting. It is the perfect break from the fast-paced daily action. So, if you can, invest some time, energy, and money (if need be), into making your space into a place you can’t wait to work in.

Using Filler Primer on 3D Parts

In Bob’s latest I Like to Make Stuff video, he shows you how to turn a kid’s drawing into a 3D printed toy. He also shares a tip about using filler primer spray paint as a way of quickly getting a smooth finish on your 3D prints. Filler primer is a thick primer used in the auto body industry. On 3D prints, it fills in the layer deposit lines. With several coats and sanding, you can achieve a very smooth result.

Heating Your Flexible Filament

Flexible filament (such as MatterHackers’ Pro Series Flex) is “hygroscopic,” meaning it tends to absorb moisture from the air, even more so than PLA (which is also hygroscopic). On this video on 3D Printing Nerd, Joel is building a giant, scaled-up 3D printed RC car. For the tires, he used Pro Flex. He discovered that, if not heated/dried out beforehand, the moisture in Pro Flex would vaporize as it hit the heated nozzle and the resulting boiling filament would compromise the print. He fixed this by drying out the filament in a food dehydrator before using it and that worked like a charm. You can achieve the same result by low-temp drying in an oven.

Backing Sandpaper with Duct Tape

In one of her recent videos, housing contractor Leah Bolden shows you how adding duct tape to the backing of your sandpaper can create a more durable, flexible paper for sanding in tight places and other situations where conventional sandpaper would be taking a lot of abuse and likely tear.

Getting in, Getting Out

Since we’ve been covering some media-making tips for makers (e.g. Don’t Overdrive Your Voice and Steering Into Your Weirdness), I thought I would share this gem, taken from my Gareth’s Tips on Sucks-Less Writing. This was first told to my late wife who was a jazz singer and needed help with her stage “patter,” what you say in-between songs. It was shared by a friend of ours who was a DC-area TV field reporter. He told her that, when speaking live and extemporaneously before an audience, always know how to “get and get out” (i.e. what you are going to say in the beginning and how you are going to end). Then, you simple B.S. your way through the middle. If you get stuck, you just go to your ending. This little tip instantly improved her stage presence. This can apply to any situation where you’re going to have an audience and are going to be largely winging it. I have found this even applies to writing. If you know your theme, and you know how you are going to set the piece up and how your are going to wrap, you are a long ways toward were you want to be. Now, just who/what/where/when/why your way through the middle, and you’re done.

Reducing Plastic Waste

It’s never a bad idea to think about your disposable plastic consumption and what you might be able to do to reduce some of that waste. This social media share-card is from Less Plastic, a UK org set up to raise public awareness about plastic waste and its impacts.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn
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