Daily Mini Interview: Miniature 3D Printing by Lance Abernethy

Lance Abernethy’s 3D-Printed Works in Miniature

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Lance-2015-04-3D-printer-shoot-020Tell us a bit about the conception of The World’s Smallest Circular Saw

It was just a natural progression from the miniature drill. I like to make and create things. Using power tools and 3D printers help me bring those things to life.

There are lots of things that get me excited and when I see something or come up with an idea I just want to have a go. The idea stems from joining multiple interests together but turning them into something different.

You wowed the tech world just a few months ago with your World’s Smallest Cordless Drill. Could you tell us a bit about the conception of this piece? 

It progressed from a general chat at our shift change over at work. We were sharing stories and jokes that are spread through the engineering field. Apparently a country made the smallest twist drill and sent it to another who drilled a hole down the center. Well, I thought: I can make a small drill to do that.

Lance Abernethy’s 3D-Printed Cordless Drill now holds the Guinness World Record for the smallest working power tool at 17 millimeters.

What’s your background and how did you get into 3D printing?

I’m a maintenance and diagnostic engineer… well, that’s what my certificate says. I have always liked technology and general mechanical things. The world of 3D printing is the ultimate way to create something. You can make things that were never possible before and with no waste. I would love to get more into that field and thought the best way to start was to get a printer of my own.


What urged you to transition from full scale 3D printing into miniature? 

Tiny things are interesting, funny and can be surprising. I still print large and full sized items but it’s always fun when you pull off a cool tiny print. The type of printer I have isn’t suited to printing such small items, so it’s also the challenge to make it possible.

20150316_175150Approximately how long did it take you to create the saw and drill? 

Three days each, from the idea to a complete item. I don’t wait around, I just get to creating.

Do you plan on selling either tool or mass printing these? 

It would be nice and may become a option. But I’m not sure if people would be willing to pay enough to be worth my time.

Any other 3D-printed works or “World’s Smallest” creations to come from Lance Abernethy?

I’m always working on something, that’s for sure. Whether it interests other people, I don’t know. The problem is, I have more ideas than time in the world. The list grows faster than I can pursue my interests and the cost comes into play a bit too.SAMSUNG CSC

As for miniature items, I have a few ideas that I hope to work on some time soon. More tools, but a few other things that I’m not ready to share yet. Mainly as I’m not sure if and when I’ll be able to complete them.

Any inspirations you’d like to cite? 

I don’t really follow anyone’s footsteps, but all the people at Ultimaker and on the forum make up a good community that I enjoy being a part of. There are lots of talented people that share their creations. It’s very inspiring.


Career highlights thus far?

Just being employed is a highlight. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with some very talented people and I really enjoy modifying machinery. SAMSUNG CSCSeeing people struggle operating or working with equipment and coming up with improvements to aid their jobs and improve overall performance.

Advice for beginner designers and entrepreneurs?

Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t worry about not being trained or taught how to do something. Just give it a go. You may start off rusty but the skills you will gain outweigh any of that. If you are passionate about something or something excites you, then pursue it. Life’s short so live it. If you wait for retirement then you may not be fit to do the things you would have loved to do.


Other hobbies you enjoy?

I have many hobbies: fishing, hunting, doing professional firework displays, playing banjo and bird watching. I also grow, harvest and make different products from sugar cane.

Lance Abernethy is based in Auckland, New Zealand. Watch his miniature creations in action on YouTube.



Daily Mini Interview: The World’s Smallest Portfolio by Michael William Lester

Michael William Lester Creates The World’s Smallest Portfolio
A tiny book of visual ideas

Website + Portfolio  |  Instagram  |  Twitter  |  Behance  |  Tumblr  |

How did you devise such the brilliant concept of The World’s Smallest Portfolio?

13The idea came from a great little self-promo brief by London illustration and animation studio, jelly London. The studio team asked students and graduates coming to their D&AD New Blood festival talk to get people talking about their own work. I knew I wanted to not just get people talking about my work as a whole, but specifically about the concepts rather than the style. So I set myself a challenge: “How could I present more of my ideas and less of my visual style?” My answer was to make something so small that only a really strong idea could still be communicated.

How long did it take to make each miniature portfolio?

The actual making took around 3 hours once I got the hang of it, but getting the first one right took a couple of days. The designing and prepping took about a week. I made 5 portfolios, each by hand, and each hand-signed.4

What type of work is featured in The World’s Smallest Portfolio?

The work inside is a mixture of work I’d made previously and work that existed as a quick sketch or idea. A few of the ideas were created as part of my ongoing illustration work for IBM and Ogilvy, for example the Brazil flag eye was made during the world cup last week for their blog, and the Europe flag was a poster and animation I made earlier this year for them. The girl keyhole was literally just a sketch I had lying around. So it was a fun process to take these pieces of work, all at different stages and try and bring them together.

7What materials went into the creation of The World’s Smallest Portfolio?

Here’s the complete list of things I used after printing, in the correct order: cutting board, craft knife, ruler, Wenger swiss army knife (reamer to score), bookbinding awl, needle, thread, bookbinders tape, magnifying card, Sharpie, and an elastic band. Having a bit of prior book binding experience was useful, but like most things in the creative world, skill is only a small part of it.

An interesting fact: the rainbow-esque strip at the end of the book was created by accident, the thickness of the card meant each page stuck out a little bit more. I originally planned to crop this down but in the end it became a memorable part of the design, I guess it’s good to not completely know what you’re doing!


Career highlights thus far?

Having the opportunity to work in Paris for a year with Ogilvy straight from graduation was incredible and I wouldn’t be where I am without it. I’m still incredibly grateful to Chris Rowson (now creative director at Ogilvy NY) who saw my work, believed in me, and got me over there.

Advice for beginner designers?

The only thing you should be focused on is making good work. In this age of social media, it’s easy to look around and think you’re behind everyone else. To think you’re not doing enough and spend too much time trying to promote yourself or gain a following to catch up…. Relax! Focus on making great work and everything else will follow.

6Fellow designers that inspire you?

One of my favorites is Alan Fletcher. His book The Art of Looking Sideways is an incredible homage to imagination, and really got me into visual playfulness. There’s no order to the pages, it’s just a huge collection of stray (but very intelligent) thoughts. I actually found it lying abandoned on a street corner which is the perfect way to discover a book of randomness!

Plans to work with miniatures in the future?

The World’s Smallest Portfolio served an idea. It came from a problem and that was the best solution I could devise. If another brief requires some small thinking, then I’d definitely go in that direction again, but we will just have to see what crops up!

Other miniature work you enjoy?

As a kid I was obsessed with Kinder egg toys (okay, I still buy them from time to time). My studio desk is full of all kinds of little plastic figures.3

Other activities you enjoy?

I dabble in guitar and enjoy reading existential philosophy.

Upcoming projects planned?

I have a big exhibition coming soon which right now I can’t say too much about but it’s very exciting!

Flip through The World’s Smallest Portfolio by Michael William Lester, a freelance designer and illustrator currently based in London, UK. You can check out more of his work online, or follow along on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Behance.