I’m back from a long hiatus… The second half of the summer was busy with travel, and the beginning of the semester is always a difficult time. Only now are things settling down, and I can (hopefully) get back to regular posting.

In the last few months my design consulting business has really taken off, and I will be writing soon about some of those projects. Unfortunately, right now none of them are at a state that can be talked about, so I’m going to go back to one of my oldest experiments with 3D printing.

When he was about 6 or 7 my very creative son had made a little game for himself by taking wine corks and turning them into little characters. He’d stick toothpicks in them for arms and legs, use thumbtacks for shields or hats, etc. He called them “BOBs” (because they float!). Not many have survived in the intervening years, but recently my younger son was cleaning out his room and came across these.


These were made around the time I started experimenting with 3D printing, so it was natural to try 3D printed cork accessories. It was also before I started using Rhino3D. All modeling was done with Cheetah3D, an inexpensive  CAD program only available for Macs, which turned out to be surprisingly good for this sort of project.

I made two experiments: “Hiker BOB” and “Top Hat BOB”. Each had pants, a hat, and a little accessory. Hiker BOB’s accessory was a belt with a water bottle, and Top Hat BOB had a collar with a bow tie. Both were printed at Shapeways.


The ironic thing is that shortly after making these, my son stopped playing with his BOBs. One explanation is that he just outgrew this sort of toy. But I also wonder if I’d somehow spoiled it for him. Maybe the act of making his BOBs was the real fun, and by providing him with pre-made parts I had ruined it. I created an object that would sit on a shelf and be looked at, rather than played with. Or maybe he just discovered video games.

For years I contemplated trying to mass market my 3D printed BOBs. However, I don’t know the first thing about how to start that process, and I was more interested in other pursuits than trying to find out. Recently my wife came across a product called “Corkers,” which is basically the same thing: plastic accessories to turn corks into little characters. Oh well… I guess I missed the boat on that!

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