Sometimes you go to the Conference,
Sometimes the Conference comes to YOU



For the first time ever, you don't have to rack your brain recalling what happened at an APMM conference - you can go re-live it! We recorded almost every session and premiered them on YouTube. If you were registered, you can go watch them right now. Don't worry if you didn't register, we will eventually make them available for non-registrants to watch whenever they like. There might be some of you who read this article and decide you can't wait. You didn't register but you want to see this amazing content now? - Good News! You can contact [email protected] and gain access! Here's the recap to tempt you into checking out the VCON videos.

Toward the end of the day on Thursday, March 11 (or very early in the day on Friday depending on where you were) the APMM Zoom HQ opened. It was to be the first stop every day for participants, the place to chat after each event, and the place you’d go if you didn't know where you were supposed to be and needed...



Our first event was a Zoom chat on How It Started, How It’s Going with Nathan McCaughan of Steelcase, in which he told us how they weathered the pandemic and provided PPE and support for their local first responders and others. Other members shared some of their experiences in the open discussion afterwards. We thank all of our members, both individual and representing companies, who donated goods, skills, and their time to help others get through COVID.



The conference formally started at the usual time in the morning (for Eastern-Central North Americans and no, I won’t be bringing time differences up anymore) with a welcome and a chance to do some digital troubleshooting.

Premiering on YouTube was a session on Managing Personnel and Projects from Paul Chabala, APMM Treasurer and Additive Manufacturing Lead at Crown Equipment Corporation. Paul is one of our inspirational examples of model makers who, using their shop project management skills, moved up the corporate management ladder to manage production on a larger scale. You can ask Paul and others questions about that on our APMM Forum if that’s a career goal for you.

It was back to Zoom for a presentation by one of our long-time APMM vendor members Reynolds Advanced Materials. We are grateful to them and all of our Vendors who contributed demos and other information to the conference. We didn’t record this session, but they have lots of videos on their YouTube page with similar content and much more.  






Our first tour of the conference was of an amazing place where over 5000 19th-century US Patent Office models are stored and preserved. The Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, DE has lots of interesting things besides patent models, but you will see Caroline Western giving us an overview of the model collection, and some fascinating detailed information on a few individual pieces.

Then, their Object Conservator of 33 years, Ebenezer Kotei showed us what his shop is like and all the variety of materials and mechanisms, etc. he has become an expert working with.

As an added bonus, we got a preview of Hagley's “Nation of Inventors” exhibition, a work-in-progress that will be opening this autumn. It features work by Steampunk artist Bruce Rosenbaum of ModVic, including the "Velocipede Time Machine", a massive kinetic sculpture. More information on Hagley and the Nation of Inventors elsewhere in the newsletter. 

We've all bent metal before, sometimes even on purpose! If you ever wanted to learn how to do that accurately and to understand why metal behaves the way it does when being formed, brand-new APMM Vendor VP Wayne Forsythe of Steelcase has made a useful video called Funda-metals of Sheet Metal Forming. In this video he demonstrates using a large hydraulic brake press along with other industrial equipment, and a small benchtop brake. Two lucky participants in the chat received the benchtop brakes donated by our friends at Steelcase in conjunction with MicroMark.




Our last scheduled Friday event was a visit to Accurate Pattern in Butler, WI. Bruce Williams and other members of his staff showed us their workspaces, tools and methods. 


You'll see Accurate Pattern does really nice work, but their stand-out feature is their capacity to do gigantic-sized really nice work. If you need someone with the capacity to CNC and finish a full-size car model, talk to them! Their contact info is in the "Find a Member" directory on the APMM website.

The Friday tours weren't over, as we found out later. During our discussion on Zoom, APMM member Miles Hale gave us an impromptu tour of one part of his extensive home shop - the antique/unique collection of tools housed in his... um, powder room. There was so much we didn't get to see that we recruited Miles to give us the full tour a few months later for one of our bi-monthly meet-ups. Keep an eye open for emails and posts announcing those! 



Are you looking to hire or be hired someday? (Who isn’t?) How would you like to know which traits you should emphasize on your resume/CV and in an interview?  Will Strange, Senior Lecturer at Arts University Bournemouth in the UK, and also APMM Education VP, shared the results of his exhaustive study and survey of The Skills of a Model Maker. Both a study and a survey were conducted to verify how different skills are perceived in our industry. As you can see below, the study (ranking in gray) and the survey (overall ranking in blue) didn't always correlate. For more details, check out the video.

After that, Peter Mack, Principal Model Maker at Steelcase and APMM Vice President climbed into the back of a semi-trailer full of furniture models and told us about the challenges and best practices involved in Managing Large Prototype Builds. Watch this video if you want to find out about the added steps in designing, fabricating, scheduling and transporting. Did you pack everything on pallets that will fit side-by-side in the truck or will you need more trucks? 

As we’ve done in all the most recent conferences, we asked an occupational safety expert to share some information on OSHA procedures and resources, to help our member avoid the dreaded fines or work stoppages. Daphne Boston, CSP, who is an Environmental Health and Safety Practitioner and Educator did an amazing job of that with a hazard control hierarchy strategy, a list of useful resources and more.


Daphne also had an interesting "Spot the Hazard" exercise for us. She showed us an image of a room with at least 10 safety violations and gave us some time to identify them. For those who want to play along, there’s the same image with 10 arrows indicating the hazards farther down. To have them all explained, you’ll have to watch the video!

For our Keynote Speaker, we reached back into the misty origins of the APMM. Once upon a time in 1981, a young kid named Jeff Hoefer moved to the Bay Area to start a career as a model maker with The Model Studio, building models of products like the Apple II using “acrylic, bondo and a tablesaw.” He eventually became the Industrial Design Manager and Head of Digital Imaging at Google by way of Atari, Lunar Design, Satellite Models and, eventually Apple itself. On the way, he also co-founded the APMM with Kelly Hand in 1993 as a means of getting industry discounts for model makers and educating designers on why models cost as much as they do. Jeff mentioned in his speech that he was proud to see the organization still going strong! He also built the CAD surface for this memorable APMM photo backdrop at the Chicago conference in 2004. Thanks, Jeff! And thanks for a great Keynote speech! 

After the Keynote speech we jumped on the virtual bus for a trip to visit the Microsoft Advanced Prototyping Center in Redmond, WA. Apologies to anyone who missed this tour, we couldn’t record it due to company policy so there won’t be a future opportunity to see it - but a huge thanks to Mark Honschke, 3D Print Lead and John Haley, Principle Manager and the rest of our hosts at the APC.  A lot of what we saw was equipment you’d see in any well-equipped shop. Maybe not all of it in the same shop, and you probably wouldn’t see a femtosecond laser in most other shops, but we found that even at Microsoft their model making work is still bound by the constraints of time and space.

It was the end of the second full day of conferencing and time for the traditional Saturday evening Vendor Expo! We had a solid plan where each of our participating vendors would be available via their own Zoom link for members to visit for as long as they liked within the hour and a half. You could visit any or all of them in that timeframe, just like walking from table to table at an IRL conference. Thank you very much to Aves Fine Clay and Maches, B9 Creations, Camera Graphics, McCausey Specialty Products, Reynolds Advanced Materials, ShipandInsure and Ultimation Precision Sanders for staffing your Zoom sites and being ready to inform and help our members. Participation was low on this event (maybe we were all just looking for a longer stretch-break!) so we welcome any and all suggestions to make the virtual Vendor Expo a more rewarding experience next time for everyone involved. Please send your ideas to Vendor VP Wayne Forsythe [email protected] 

As promised, here’s the Hazard Exercise with arrows indicating the problem areas:

Those who stayed on or rejoined after the Vendor Expo were able to join in on a far-ranging discussion of topics including model making, design, finding inspiration and seeking opportunity with our Keynote speaker Jeff Hoefer and Steampunk artist Bruce Rosenbaum of ModVic. This inspired us to bring in more outside "heavy hitters" for our bi-monthly meet-ups. Our first success in that area was getting acclaimed model maker for Star Wars films Fon Davis to join us at our May The 4th Be With You meet-up last month. More info on Fon here: 



Do you realize how easy and inexpensive it is to get monitors and run them off "obsolete" laptops and transform your facility to an interconnected digital powerhouse with all the information anyone would need at their fingertips? Mike Elsholz, Model Shop Manager at Steelcase realized this and has set up his shop with total access to project schedules, staff and resource availability and shipping information. You can learn to Do More Digitally with more than just office communication by watching this video. He also showed us how important it is to consider whether there are any essential functions you can perform more quickly and accurately with other digital equipment. In Steelcase’s case, cutting fabric was one such function and getting a computer-controlled cutter has saved them a ton of time and money!

After that we were off to Kansas City - actually Olathe, KS to be precise – and I should be precise because we were visiting precision navigation equipment makers Garmin International. Senior Prototype Developer at Garmin and APMM Secretary, Michael Scribner gave us a thorough tour of all the different components of his model shop.


Sadly, company policy again prohibited us from recording this live Zoom session, but here are some cool pictures from their website. Happily, one of their most interesting capabilities is small-scale electroplating and Michael made an entire video covering that, which was recorded.

Next up John Zell from Camera Graphics in Portland, OR gave us a live Zoom tour of his shop and explained his capabilities. You may know him for his excellent dry-transfer (rub-downs) services, but there’s a lot more that Camera Graphics has to offer. Check them out for various printing services and see if you can’t utilize their in-house graphic design abilities when you don’t have a production-ready Illustrator file to submit for your work. Check out their website.

Then it was speaker time again and Chris Stanley, who was going to be our host in Seattle, was our Featured Model Maker. You can read about his illustrious career in an article about him in the APMM Newsletter (Spring 2019). Unlike other Keynote and FMM events in the past, we conducted this as an interview with questions posed by APMM Executive Director Samanthi Martinez and Conference VP Bruce Willey (your humble correspondent.) It went very smoothly and gave us a chance to get to know Chris better. He demonstrated an Arduino-powered light-up hat that he made, though! (pictured above)

Chris took the "stage" again and gave us a tour of his primary workplace these days; the Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network (BARN) near Seattle. This is the place you’d want to be if a Zombie Apocalypse breaks out. You can build things in the Electronics, Glass, Woodworking (pictured) and two different Metalworking studios, keep the team fed in their Kitchen Arts studio and communicate your experience in the Media, Print and Writing studios. Plus it’s on an island and we know Zombies can’t swim! It's truly an awesome facility and would make a great "working" conference destination all on its own.


Our last event on Sunday was a quick trip to the other side of the world for the sequel to the 2018 workshop “Model Making in India.” Like many sequels, this one was more in-depth and really fleshed out the background. It started with a report from Sharad Dahake, Founder and Director of Ideal Mockups on how his company fared between 2018 and 2021. He then showed us his commute into the city of Nagpur, eventually arriving at his facility. The two main differences I noticed between there and most shops I’ve seen in the US is that Ideal Mockups has to make more clever use of space, and they are willing to give some of it over to nature, with a prominent fish tank at the entrance. 



After our usual check-in and brief morning discussion, we returned to Garmin International, where Michael Scribner taught us virtually everything you need to know to set up and run a small-scale Electroplating operation. A lot of you will be amazed at how accessible this valuable technique can be. If you can’t immediately access this useful video and you want to know more about electroplating, you can also find a written primer, also created by Michael, on the subject on the APMM Forum under Electroplating and Anodizing. He’ll also try to answer any questions you post there. 

In a couple clicks of the mouse, (saving ourselves a 34-minute car trip) we were then transported from Olathe to the National Toy and Miniature Museum in Kansas City. Model makers will be interested to learn they have the largest collection in the world of what we could think of as "very small, realistic models". Whether they count something like this 1:12 scale architect's classroom -as one miniature, a couple dozen miniatures or well over 100 miniatures, it’s a valid claim. There are rooms and rooms, containing rooms and rooms, of miniatures. Additionally, be prepared to hurtle back in time to your childhood, no matter how old you are, when you see the toy collection. Bring the grandparents if you can – there are plenty of antique toys from their childhoods as well.

We then left Kansas and traveled, like MC Hammer, to London and LA (but also Seattle and Columbus OH) to visit the studios of NBBJ Architects. In this video you'll be introduced to the principal model maker at each location and get a quick overview of the spaces in a slideshow narrated by none other than Joshua Munchow of Formation Design, APMM's Social Media VP and pretty much our go-to guy for media. (More on him later.) You'll also get to see several examples of their work in model and real-life form. It's a fascinating look at the variety of models architects employ. A definite advantage of having a virtual conference was the opportunity to see all four NBBJ locations and their model shops. Not just the one we would have visited in Seattle, seen here on display in the middle of the studio, like the fish tank at Ideal Mockups.

Last, but also Leese, (heh-heh) we have 20 Benchtop Tips/Tricks in 30 Minutes by popular APMM conference emcee and songwriter Craig Leese, Engineering Assistant at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. His concentration on molding and casting led him to develop the Inhibition Stick, which sounds like something you’d use to keep co-workers from “borrowing” your stuff, but which is actually a stick to which he applied various coatings, adhesives or materials, and then drizzled molding silicone on to see which ones might inhibit the silicones from curing. He also showed us that having your stuff easily at-hand outweighs the danger of having it “borrowed”.  Long-time professionals and freshly-minted model makers will all get something from Craig’s clever hacks. When we returned to the Zoom chat to discuss the presentation, Craig gave us a bonus tour of his home shop and mold-making operation. Which proves the old saying, "You can take the model maker out of the shop, but they'll just make another shop to be in."

And that was our conference. Thanks to our presenters, thanks to our vendors, thanks to registrants, thanks to our sponsors and a HUGE thanks to the one without whose hard work and skill this conference might not have even happened – Joshua Munchow! He had some help, but he’s largely responsible for prepping all the videos, the animations and music, voice-over for some of the presentations and adding lots of clever segues. He also made the training videos for our presenters and intro videos for the APMM itself. You can see and share all of these on our YouTube page.

Thanks again, Joshua. You are, as the kids say these days, lit!