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Sean Aranda, Author of 3D Printing Failures, Captain America Print, and more

Welcome to 3d from nothing powered by metal mix. The show where you learn all about 3d printing and additive technology. I’m your host, Tom Gendich.  Metalmite is a full service machine shop that specializes in five and six axis. CNC, machining, CNC, grinding while your EDM and 3d printing. We have a 50 plus year.

History in this corporation started by my father.  I took over as CEO in 2009, and I’m continuing the manufacturing legacy today as a third generation owner. In these programs you’ll learn. What kinds of printers are out there? What kinds of materials you can print on, who are using these printers?

What kinds of things you should be looking at printing as well as hearing from experts in the field, through interviews that we’ll be conducting as always, you can go to our website, You’ll find some free giveaways, learn all about what we’re doing. See the links to different things we comment about and learn more about where our name comes from, which was my father, who always said someday we’ll make parts out of nothing. Go to

And that’s what we’re doing today with 3d printing and additive technology.

Welcome back to the show here. We’re really excited today to have Sean with us. Sean is the author of a book that I picked up recently called a 3d printing failures. And Sean, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and how that title came about?

Yeah. Hi. I started working for a 3d printing farm about 2015, early 2015, late 2014. That was started by my best friend. And that was why they brought me on, they needed to pay somebody a small amount, but needed a lot of skills or involved, but I didn’t have any of those skills. I was trained on the job.

I didn’t have any experience with 3d printing. I’m not an engineer. I always try to make, be open about that. I’m a technician and I slowly learned. I thought my impression of 3d printing was it was a lot more plug and play. And mostly because I think that’s how 3d printing companies market themselves.

And so that was a big shock to me, figuring out just how every single print requires different settings. Every single print requires something a little different and. I realized, I may not be an engineer, but I understand acceptable failure rates and other industries. And if you get to 1%, that’s way too high.

And on some of these machines, we were getting 10%, if you include, the first layer, not looking good, and that on top of the fact we would continually get calls. Do you repair printers? Do you repair printers? And so we actually did it for about a year. And how many times it was just your bed’s not level or?

I don’t know. A couple were just the nozzle needed to be torched out or, there was such basic things, but then we had to charge them for, dust just diagnosing it, taking some time out of the day. So I realized that there was plenty of YouTube videos, but at the time of writing my first edition, there really wasn’t any all-in-one resource.

There was like how to make money 3d printing and all this other stuff, but there wasn’t really a real technical all-in-one resource and the booklets they give you what the printers are pretty much useless. And so yeah, I thought I wanted to be honest with the title, I’m not representing any.

Manufacturer any printer company, and just be honest, Hey, you guys are experiencing failures. Here’s how to hopefully diagnose and fix them so that, it’s not just sitting in your garage, not being used anymore. Yeah and I think that gives you a lot of credibility. The fact that you’re not representing a specific manufacturer I think people see you as a real user in the market.

If now you said that you got into 3d printing with your buddy. That was how many years ago you said 10 years ago. No, not quite that long. It was, I think it was late 2014, early 2015. Yeah. Okay. And what kinds of things or were you bringing to market then as this more hobby market or?

Yes. Yeah. No, we worked with a lot of businesses. There was, I would say it’s hard for me to remember exactly, but I would say close to 50% of the people were prototyping different. Who knows a lot of them were just electrical enclosures that we didn’t even really know what they were being used on.

It was just, Hey, here’s a file. Can you print it for me? And then we did have a few clients that would do small pro product run. So similar electrical enclosures or stuff like that, but for, 500 units or, that sort of thing. And we worked with. At the time inexpensive printers, there are 3000 bucks now that’s a decent amount for the types of machines we were using.

But yeah, no. So we just what we were capable of printing. We tried to offer as many material options as possible with the inexpensive machines we were using. Gotcha. Yeah, no, it sounds like you guys made quite a business out of it. So predominantly what materials were you using to print those?

Is this all nylon or plastic? It was a range of somebody prototyping normally PLA just because it’s cheap and they don’t care. And then for electrical enclosures and stuff, we did a lot of abs. I don’t think, I think we stopped using it near the time I was leaving, just because it’s such a nuisance to print, but that.

Yeah. And then we worked with a lot of nylons and we had 16 different material options. So that was actually one of the things that helped educate me on this stuff. Cause I, I, like I said, no engineering background, no material science background, but it’s forced education when you’re trying to figure out why your nylon is and sticking to the build plate or why your nylon is.

And why is it absorbing so much moisture and all that sort of stuff? find that really interesting. So you, here you are thrown into a real-world situation. You’re trying to print things and you have these these mishaps, these failures, and and so you put your experience together and you write a book out of it.

And one of the things when I started doing research on 3d printing and additive technology, I think your book was in the top three recommended by Amazon. Yeah it’s I’ve definitely been fortunate in that regard. My first edition wasn’t quite as popular and I realized some kind of errors I might’ve said in it.

And then, so this 20, 20 edition is actually the third edition of it. And that, and it’s also been helpful. I haven’t even mentioned, I I have a YouTube channel and that I. It was I wanted to try to think of a way where I could make money, 3d printing, but also be helping the community.

And so I try to make it so that my fault, my videos are either educational through tutorials or reviewing products. And then at the end of the video, I’ll mention the fact that I have the book. And so I think that helps get it ranked up on Amazon when I have a. A video with a hundred thousand views advertising the book at the end.

So I’m sure that’s why it gets ranked up there, but okay. And how do our listeners find you on YouTube? What’s your yeah, my YouTube channel is the 3d print general. And I just basically do tutorials and reviews and I actually just, mixing in some interviews as well. I have three different interviews now.

So I’m thinking about doing a little more of that as well. Yeah, fantastic. We’ll definitely check that out. What caught my attention when I was glancing through the book? You have a lot and you did sent you, you say right in the book that you’ll send anybody a digital copy so that the pictures are higher resolution.

And that’s initially how I contacted you. I emailed and asked you for that and you sent it right over. You’ve got a wonderful library of pictures of just about every error. Someone could run across. And is that part of the reason you’ve got three revisions of the book, you just keep adding to that and finding some more things to add.

So it’s a combination of first of all, yeah, so the photos this is self-published through Amazon and there’s really not much. I’ve gotten so many complaints about the photos and so there’s not much fine. Just so open with I. We’ll send you the full HD colored version PDF. So it’s interactive too, so you can click around on there.

But yeah each iteration I get from people, a failure that isn’t mentioned in the book, cause I offer actually offer free help to anybody who buys the book as well. I’m slow at responding nowadays cause I’ve been getting a lot of inquiries, but I always try to get back with as much help as possible, because if it’s not in the book, then, I’m going to try to figure out what it is and if it’s worthy of being added to the next edition.

And actually the, so I didn’t come out with one in 2021 just because I’ve been writing stuff, but I didn’t think it was enough content to justify a full new edition to try to sell to people. And I’m going to be adding new failures as people add email me and then also I’m going to try to add an SLA section as well, just because they’re becoming so affordable now that when I came out the first edition, you couldn’t get one for under a thousand and now, they’re $200 SLA machines that work pretty dang well yeah.

Yeah. Explain to me, we, I guess we skipped over this part, explained to me the printers you’re currently using. Are those all built custom or are you using specific brands? Oh, no. So yeah, I am I’m not sponsored by anybody or anything like that. I but I do reviews. And so I basically, my print farm is printers that have been sent to me to review.

And so they are, I started with my own, I bought a couple and use some of the company that I worked for SD3d. I use one of their printers for one of my videos, but They so now literally every single printer is different. I don’t have to have the same of any printer. And some of them are Frankensteined out because I the ones I really I put the exact things that I want on it and the exact way I want it.

And so it’s pretty Mickey mouse. The one that I actually use for my main printing, but yeah, so no, every single printer is different, but they’re all FDM. Desktop printers and they’re all currently they’re all under a thousand dollars. So they’re all that’s where I seem to, I focus. That’s who my boat, my book focuses on.

Yeah. People get under threes, that sort of thing. Yeah. Fantastic. I can’t help, but see, on the video behind you, I see a bunch of action figures on the top shelf. We have captain America and Batman, and I know my my kids and I love that stuff. So is that sort of, did you print some of those are those I don’t do as often, but I have a playlist where I print fun things and paint them because I actually a few of those, the captain America, the green lantern, the Batman, those were designed by my friend.

For our Patrion, we run the Patrion together where I offer my digital book for certain amount and he for $5 and he offers the designs for $1 and so yeah, sometimes when he makes a really cool design, I’ll try to print it and paint it for a video to get the word out and also just show it off.

They don’t really do that. Views wise, but yeah. Fantastic. That’s great. And we have a, one of my, one of our guys here at metal might ha is a hobbyist, a 3d printer. And so we’re all big star Wars and he always does these rat themed Sculptures and molds. And so he’s doing the Rat-A-Lorian  right now.

And so he’s got a little rat Mandel, Laurie, and so he 3d printed the helmet and he’s got a fork and place of the spear and yeah. So he’s been playing with that. So I know that’s a big field and it’s amazing the software and different things that are available online to do these things.

I think it, it really launches into industry pretty quickly, as you said, you start out doing. Hobby type things, then you’re making electrical boxes and whatever somebody sends you. I should ask you that too. Now, if somebody wants to get ahold of you to print something, where’s, what’s the best website, is it still the 3d print general or so I actually don’t do too much contracting work.

I, I will, if it’s a specific job, that makes sense. So I’m actually making a video right now for a video game company making. Something from their game. And fun, really fun projects that make sense for me to, I like I’m more into a one-off print that you might need painted or something.

Cause I actually have fun doing that. And but my company that I worked for, my, my best friend still runs it. And so I normally refer people to them. They get, 15% off when they mentioned me, but I for actual jobs that require. If you want a hundred parts or some, a real prototype in a unique material, I normally just refer to SD 3d, but, okay.

So I’ve asked most people I’ve interviewed these same two questions. I’m going to, I’m going to pop them at you. The first one, if you can think off the top of your head, what is the most difficult print job you’ve ever had to do? So we’ve had difficult in the sense of the model just wouldn’t print.

But I feel like that wasn’t quite as fun as the difficult. We did a when I was with SD 3d, we did a city for an insurance company for a display in there at a trade show. This thing was massive. It was like I don’t know, it was like eight feet by eight feet. I don’t know something ridiculously big and it was a full city of They were trying to show all the different things they insure.

And so they actually, they built a really cool rig where they, so we only printed it white and they had this light show above it that would like highlight different buildings and kinda make them look like the building should yeah. Color. It was really cool. But anyway, project itself. Wow. That was a, we had all 20 printers running 24 seven, me coming in at, four in the morning to scrape off prints because they needed it quick.

And We may have overstressed ourselves a little bit on the, and then just delivering it, because we put it in four sections, but each section is still like four by four. And we had to get these huge trucks and it was, we were so afraid the thing was going to break and. It ended up working out, but that was by far the most stressed I’ve been on any sort of 3d printing project.

Oh yeah. It sounds huge. I know my brother-in-law lives out in New Jersey and they have a model train museum right. Near his house. So when you’re talking about printing an entire city, I’m thinking about the detail that goes into these little miniature cities and to print that and it’s gotta be, we couldn’t do big novels.

Yeah. We couldn’t do big nozzles. They ought to be good quality and. A lot of it, we turned into Lego pieces, so the buildings would fit into the land that we were building. But yeah, it was, it it was more the timeframe, I think, too, if we had, four months to do it, it would be a different story.

But we, I think we only had three weeks to print it all. And so it was just cranking it out well, and that, that goes right into my next question then. So that was the most difficult. What would you consider the strangest or just most off the wall thing you’ve ever had to print?

Man. It’s hard to remember. Yeah. It’s also, I feel weird making fun of people’s inventions. Certainly. Don’t you don’t have to mention but so the last episode that guy told me, he had to, he was hired to make a pair of. Tweezers for a medical company that actually opens up your back to be able to operate.

And he said, just printing it. He and the rest of the guys printing, it were freaked out about the abuse. Yeah. Yeah, that’s weird. And I feel like I definitely had a lot of inventions that I very much, Hey, you’re paying us, I’m not going to make fun of your invention, but we definitely had quite a few that.

It’s hard for me to think of one in particular, but there’s definitely quite a few where I was like, this is not going to sell. It’s but I’m going to help you make it. Who knows? I’m not, I’m no wizard in the market and they end up selling, but exactly.

I like to also do a part of the show where we look at a couple of current events and I call it current events. Current 3d printing uses out in the market. And we’ve had some interesting ones in the last week alone. We reviewed that. Kentucky fried chicken is actually now 3d printing chicken nuggets.

Oh, they have a completely, just as real as the regular tickets. I’m not exactly sure. I, either confirm or deny how good that sounds, but a fairly completely plant-based printing. We also talked about there are 3d printing human organs and skin. And actually using it for COVID testing to try to help with the COVID medical stuff.

So there’s some 3d printing uses that we’ve never heard of in the manufacturing world. I’m sure you probably haven’t really heard much in your yeah. W when I got into 3d printing it’s w when you’re coming out from an outsider, it was a hundred percent outsider and you.

You don’t realize that there’s different types of 3d printing. I don’t know. It just like in your brain, you’re just thinking, Oh, I could print anything. And it’s no, we’re just working specifically with melting plastic and yeah. And yeah, no I’ve been hearing about printing cells forever, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an actual machine in person, so yeah.

Yeah. We I’m combing the materials today or the articles today. There was a a lot of 3d printing for phones. Next generation iPhone cases and even the iPhones themselves obviously that seems like a great way to lend to that technology because you’re trying to get the ergonomics and there people are trying to get it to sit in a holder in their car or in their pocket.

So it’s perfect to 3d print. A representation of it and carry it around for a day and see if that’s a good size or not. I think there’s always a race to make a bigger phone and then to make a smaller phone and then to make a thinner phone and then, and all that. And then there was a 3d printed carbon fiber bicycle out in California.

There’s a company now advertising that you can, it’s just like ordering a custom suit where you take every measurement of your inseam and your shoulder and your waist, and you give them all these dimensions and they make the perfect bicycle. They actually print the frame and the bicycle and the whole thing weighs like four pounds.

And it’s the carbon straight carbon fiber. That’s what it says. Yeah. And it’s a $2,200 bicycle, but it’s custom. That’s actually not, that’s actually not insane for what you’re getting. I know bicycles are, thousand bucks anyway. Yeah. Yeah. I was, I, I said I was impressed with the price and I think that’s a good deal.

They have a $4,000 version. That’s an electric hybrid. And so as you puddle the motor kicks in, yeah. It’ll go 50 miles, I think on a battery charge. So he, actually, my old boss had a bamboo bicycle and that was a $3,000 bike and, and it’s not absurd to, for something that cool and light.

Yeah. Yeah. Probably the most interesting we talked about yesterday was they are now 3d printing homes in New York. And they’re using a material, a cement type material, and they’re printing a three-bedroom model and a two-bedroom model. And a, we talked about it. You can get the wiring and the The plumbing, right inside the walls and the in is basically a cement home.

So it’s the best, soundproof and an insulation you can get. Yeah. I’ve always wondered if it’s, I always hear about 3d printing homes. I’ve always wondered if it’s that much easier than building a home normally. Cause it’s, I feel like it’s not that, obviously I’ve never built a home, but I mean that insane to think about.

They’re just putting wooden frame. I don’t know. It’s I’ve always wondered if it’s. Necessary. Yeah, sounded. I said the same thing to me. It sounded like a marketing gimmick when I first heard it. But the article yesterday, it says, especially this builder in New York Riverhead, New York for less than $300,000, we’ll build you a three bedroom home.

All lot of cement the photographs they have online, it was on CNN photographs. They have online, it looks just like a normal house. I’ll have to check them out. Yeah. So it’s some pretty cool uses. I like it’s interesting how you and I are in slightly different markets with our printing and and then say there’s these other markets 3d printing, chicken nuggets and houses and bicycles that we hadn’t even thought of.

Yeah. I definitely appreciate. The time you spent with us today. And I definitely hope our listeners will check out your YouTube channel and and look for your book. You also gave us a little hack here that that we can find join Patreon and get the book a little cheaper than Amazon.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, no the physical copy I’ll send you an addition. It’s 15, instead of. 20. And then the it’s hard to get the word out about this, but yeah. And then the the book I started, the PDF version is $5 instead of $10 and all tears get access to my friend. Kong’s designed files as well, excellent. Excellent. Yeah. It sounds like you’re a great resource for anybody getting into 3d printing that wants to find out, what to avoid and where to save on it. It sounds like We’ve learned a lot here about your career and how you’ve come to come about from selling to the public to now, I guess you’re more in education and the how to side of it.

Appreciate your time on that and appreciate you educating our audience a little bit now. Thank you for having me on. I really appreciate it. Fantastic Sean, and best of luck to you. Thank you.