A Crash Course in Post-Production

Last week, Nancy and I assembled the “Transformer” USB drives, lovingly modeled by Duann, so we could offer them as giveaways at the office opening party we threw last week. What ensued was a fascinating crash course in how WSF responds to adhesives.

If you’re not already familiar, an earlier version of Duann’s model can be seen in action here.

In theory, this would be a relatively simple procedure, where we could just use a dab of hot glue on the edge of the USB stick, insert it into the 3D printed transformer and let it sit.

The problem was that even though Remco at our Eindhoven printing facility worked really hard to clean these things out, there was still a significant amount of SLS powder on the inside of them. So much, in fact, that it prevented the hot glue from keeping the USB drive in place. After a few failed attempts, we decided I’d take the transformers home from the office, run them through my dishwasher, and try again.

I returned the next morning with significantly less powdery transformers, but when we tried again, the hot glue still wouldn’t quite take. So I ran out to get some super glue. Creating an ad hoc assembling line, I hot glued the plastic end of the USB drive, then brushed super glue onto the metal part (being careful to apply it only where the metal came in contact with the WSF) and handed it over to Nancy to hold it in place while it set. After leaving them be for a few hours, I came back and tested each one to ensure that they not only stayed together, but that the USB drives were functioning properly.

The results were mostly great, but there were still a handful of stubborn models. At this point, hours before the party, I engaged in a quick regluing process.

The final result? One of the wildest party favors anyone had ever seen.

This informed me and the rest of the team a whole lot about what the cleaning process of SLS can look like, and where we can improve it. We’d like to hear, what’s the wildest post-production feat you’ve ever accomplished?



  1. Paul King

    I don’t think you’d call it a ‘wild’ post-production feat, but recently I painted my chain maille dice bag with silver acrylic – it took some 28 days dipping the bag in diluted paint 3 of 4 times a day!

  2. dhawktx

    Can you share? Where did you source the USB guts?

    Thanks from Texas!

    1. Paul King

      +1 to this

      If the source is plentiful and Shapways buying power good, maybe another item for combinatory manufacturing (or supplied with printed parts for a DIY build)

  3. Aaron Trocola

    USB drive designs are pouring into the gallery! This would make a great add-on piece. For an extra $5 or so they’d add a lot of value.

    Fantastic finishing feats? Well, more than once I’ve had to give a client a model hot out of the oven that’s not done curing (but is lovingly packed in wax paper and foam). From there I can only hope it’s not sticky by the time they have to go through airport security.

  4. Glenn Slingsby

    I’m with the above comments – I’d like to know where the naked USB’s can be bought, and it would be fantastic as a combinatory item.


  5. ana

    @GWMT do you think that would work even if you can’t see the space you’re cleaning?

    This whole raw USB drive thing is causing a bit of stir, and I can see why. Let me fish around and see what info I can dig up for you guys. ;)

    1. Donna

      ana, it would be GREATLY appreciated! I’ve wanted to make a series of artful thumbdrives, but until now I’ve had to buy cheap thumbdrives and try to pop the case off, with mixed results.

    2. Paul King

      I did find some uncased 8GB Samsung USB drives… the part number seems to be common to RS and comes in at £22 to £25 (+VAT) per unit depending upon the quantity ordered – this is more than double the price of a ready made cased 8GB Samsung drive :(

      Please let us know where you got them from :)

  6. GWMT

    @ana: try using a piece of wire (like a bent paperclip) to clean out the pocket the USB fits into. Alternately have Duann redesign the part so you can access the innards for easier cleaning (add some slots or holes so you can see and clean out the offending spots); maybe make one side of the USB cavity a separate part that is snapped or glued in place.

    If you find a USB drive that can be added to a part order please consider making a 3D model of the USB drive available for download so designers can build their cases for a perfect fit.

  7. Ana Hevesi

    Hey guys, I’ve been talking with the team about providing USB drives, and it looks there are some good possibilities here. I’ll report back soon, hopefully with good news. :)

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