Skulls, trophies, lighthouses, oh my! | One 3D print at a time: Union Grove couple turns hobby into business | Local News
Miranda and Jack Jasperson stand in front of their home backyard garden in Union Grove. The married couple are the owners of SplinterPrintz, a local business specializing in woodworking and 3D printing, and found success online and in Racine County during the pandemic.
Jack Jasperson is pictured fixing one of the 3D printers that wasn’t working properly in their packaging room.
UNION GROVE — Miranda Jasperson always wanted her own skull from her favorite video game series, “Halo.”
She decided to design and 3D-print her own rendition of the skull by adding popular symbols found in the games on their foreheads. Her work got mentioned on the official Halo website’s monthly community spotlight blog twice, in October 2020 and February 2021.
Today, Miranda and her husband, Jack, have a business called SplinterPrintz, a 3D printing and custom woodworking company. They own 13 printers that seemingly take up most of their living space, from the kitchen to the garage in Union Grove.
“This was never expected or planned,” Miranda said with a laugh. “I’m just happy that Jack puts up with the fact we took over the house with 3D printers.”
The first printer
Miranda, 31, and Jack, 47, were born and raised in Kenosha and Racine County. They met in 2016 while working as firefighter paramedics.
Prior to dating, Miranda attended Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where she obtained her master’s degree in applied anatomy in 2015. There, she took classes along the biomedical engineering track and learned about 3D printing.
“I always liked making things and I’ve always been crafty because I used to do cosplay,” said Miranda. “When I had to learn about 3D printing, we had our own independent learning about prototyping and designing with 3D printers.”
One of 13 3D printers is printing out a customized skull inspired by the Halo video game series, using a white PLA filament. Miranda and Jack Jasperson are the owners of SplinterPrintz, a local business specializing in woodworking and 3D printing, and found success online and in Racine County during the pandemic.
In 2018, Miranda received her first 3D printer as a Christmas gift from Jack. It wasn’t until she had a foot and ankle injury the following year that she took a deep dive into the 3D universe.
“In October (2019) when I got hurt, I taught myself the computer coding of 3D printers,” said Miranda. “It takes so much work to learn all the settings and technical stuff.”
SplinterPrintz became an established business by August 2020, using Etsy as the primary outlet to sell its products. The two sold their first product to a customer in Sweden. Since then, they have sold to customers across the U.S. and in Australia, Russia and the U.K.
Miranda and Jack knew their business was a reliable investment when they made over $8,000 in sales their first month.
“When that happened, we reinvested into the business and I was buying more machines,” said Miranda. “It’s been nice to share something that I enjoy and there’s a lot of people that enjoy it as well.”
Can I print anything?
3D printing is no simple task, but learning the process behind making an idea become a fully fledged product is part of the fun, according to Miranda.
Before printing, you have to come up with an idea for a design — and it could literally be anything. 3D printers can print a range of items from action figures, kitchenware and medical devices.
Two of thirteen 3D printers rest on a counter next to a a customized skull inspired by the Halo video game series, using a multiple colored PLA filament.
“You have to do the majority of the work, using the computer to make the modeling design, creating shapes and editing of a mesh, the structural build, and creating a prototype,” Miranda said.
The designs will then be sliced into individual layers on a computer “slicing” program of one’s choosing. This is how the 3D printer learns how to print out your design.
“(The program) will literally slice it in layers of whatever filament width you’re using to tell the machine how to design it,” said Miranda.
From there, the designs are downloaded onto a memory card or USB stick. They are plugged into the printing machine, after which the user must adjust calibration settings for details such as temperature and speed, and off it prints.
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Designs can take anywhere from a few hours to more than three days to print depending on the size. The products are printed using thread-like plastic materials called filaments.
“We use PLA filament, which is the most biodegradable, non-toxic plastic,” said Miranda. “It still lasts quite a long time but degrades faster than most other plastics.”
The real challenge comes when the customer receives their package, anxious if it’s all in one piece or not.
“We shake the package to make sure it doesn’t move,” Jack, who packages all the products, said with a smirk. “We have to plan on the postal service just throwing the package.”
SplinterPrintz doesn’t just sell Halo skulls. The business works with other local businesses to design fun and beneficial products in the community.
Last summer, Miranda and Jack designed 3D-printed ear savers, an adjustable hook to masks to relieve pressure on ears, and donated 300 of them to faculty and staff at Union Grove Elementary School. More went to Gateway Technical College students enrolled in the Fire Medic program, where Jack is a full-time instructor.
In August 2020, many local businesses in Kenosha were damaged in the aftermath of protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Miranda and Jack created 3D-printed key chains with the message “Kenosha Strong” in the center of a Wisconsin state outline and red heart placed in Kenosha.
“We sold them for about $3 or $4 and gave 50% of the profits to the GoFundMe they had for the Kenosha Strong fundraiser,” said Miranda. “I think we ended up donating around $400.”
Miranda and Jack have also been able to partner up with local businesses to design and sell business-specific products.
Miranda Jasperson 3D-printed costumed Pokémon championship cups for Twin Dragon’s recent Pokémon tournament inside their shop.
The business works with Twin Dragons, located on 500 Wisconsin Ave, to sell a collection of their Halo skulls and other video game-related creations. The two even created miniature championship cups for the shop’s recent Pokémon tournament.
SplinterPrintz is the process of making prototypes, from Wind Point Lighthouse replicas for Lighthouse Gallery & Gifts, located on 306 Main St, to 3D-printed hand prosthetics for Team Unlimbited, a charity organization focused on designing prosthetic hand and arms.
And the duo have no plans to stop collaborating anytime soon.
Establishing in Wisconsin
The business hasn’t been able to take advantage of the custom woodworking due to CNC (computer numerical control) machines and wood prices skyrocketing during the pandemic last year.
The sale of 3D printers also increased during the pandemic partly due to the medical necessities of creating 3D-printed personal protective equipment, nose swabs and emergency isolation wards for patients. Meanwhile, the phenomenon of 3D printing has become more accessible to the average consumer.
“Up until five years ago, the average cost of a 3D printer was floating around the $50,000 mark … You can now purchase a respectable 3D printer for the substantially lower cost of $1800-$4,500,” according to 3D Printing Industry.
However, as 3D printers become more mainstream, it’s more difficult to find reliable information on how to use them.
“It doesn’t come with good instructions,” said Miranda. “If you’re not mechanically minded, it tends to be difficult when things break if you don’t understand how it works.”
This leads to Miranda and Jack wanting to establish their own 3D printing business in southeastern Wisconsin to sell 3D printing materials, to be a sort of “GeekSquad” of how to repair printers and hold classes on how to use the printers.
“I know a lot of people know about this but aren’t educated about all its capabilities,” said Miranda. “You can make anything. It’s literally up to your imagination of what you can create.”
In photos: African American Chamber of Commerce hosted business expo over weekend
Members of the AACCGR
From left, GeorgAnn Stinson, Nikki Payne and Anita Cruise are members of the African American Chamber of Commerce Greater Racine. They are pictured here on Saturday during the chamber’s business expo.
Tre Williams of the Racine Family YMCA-George Bray Branch and Dasheika Kidd, program manager at Housing Resources Inc., dance during the African American Chamber of Commerce Greater Racine’s business expo on Saturday.
Big City Brims
Delicia and Carter Evans of Big City Brims were at the African American Chamber of Commerce Greater Racine business expo on Saturday.
A purchase at Plush Clothing
Yolanda Coleman, owner of Plush Clothing in Downtown Racine, speaks with a customer after she makes a purchase at the African American Chamber of Commerce Greater Racine’s business expo on Saturday.
2 Swift Suits
Eric Dogans, owner of 2 Swift Suits in Downtown Racine, was at the African American Chamber of Commerce Greater Racine’s business expo on Saturday.
Bling & Things LLC
Bling & Things LLC held a table at the African American Chamber of Commerce Greater Racine’s business expo on Saturday.
X’Zandria Weil, owner of Besifai and creator of a guided journal, was at the African American Chamber of Commerce Greater Racine’s business expo on Saturday.
Black Essence Candles
Pattee Graves, whose daughter Shakeeus owns Black Essence Candles, works the table at the African American Chamber of Commerce Greater Racine’s business expo on Saturday.
Cops ‘N Kids Reading Center
Heather Ortiz and Sue Smith of the Cops ‘N Kids Reading Center were at the African American Chamber of Commerce Greater Racine’s business expo on Saturday.
Buses and pencils
Two little boys grab some goodies from the Cops ‘N Kids Reading Center’s booth at the African American Chamber of Commerce Greater Racine’s business expo on Saturday.
Cassandra Sweet Breads
Cassandra Sweet Breads was at the African American Chamber of Commerce Greater Racine’s business expo on Saturday.
Prepping Beauties was one of a few food vendors at the African American Chamber of Commerce’s business expo on Saturday.
Harper Tax & Financial Literacy Group
Kenny Harper, agent/financial specialist at Harper Tax & Financial Literacy Group, smiles for a photo during the African American Chamber of Commerce Greater Racine’s business expo on Saturday.
M. Dika Dermatology
Women in healthcare
Dr. Sharee Chance-Lawson, Family Medicine & Weight Loss, IPW, and Debbie L. Reddick, Blue Door Dental, pose for a photo at the African American Chamber of Commerce’s business expo on Saturday.
Relay For Life
From left, Ivana Alaniz, Kyara Johnson and Jerrilyn Johnson were at the African American Chamber of Commerce Greater Racine’s business expo on Saturday.
City of Racine Vaccine Champions Whitney Green, Maliyah Miller and Berenice Lorenzo were cheering those getting vaccinated at the African American Chamber of Commerce Greater Racine’s business expo on Saturday.
Sylvester Williams gets his COVID-19 vaccination at the African American Chamber of Commerce Greater Racine’s business expo, where City of Racine workers were stationed to give vaccinations, on Saturday.
Professional Women’s Network for Service
Urban League of Racine and Kenosha
Racine Family YMCA-George Bray Branch
Greater Racine County/Business Lending Partners
Rob’s Fragrance Oils
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