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As the senior enlisted of a small, out of the way unit in Quantico...I often get asked if we have challenge coins, as Quantico breeds coin collectors. As we are usually a 6-10 man detachment...we do not.

 

I recently got a 3D resin printer to putz around with...and a couple days ago decided to learn the ins and outs of Blender by trying the different tutorials in making a coin. Once I finish this, I intend to print some out and give them to my Marines. But thought I'd share the progress as this is an interesting learning curve and I can see these skills being used in personalizing plaques and retirement awards. For those who are thinking of getting into 3D printing or rendering, Blender is a completely free animation tool with crazy amounts of features. I'm actually amazed that they give something this complex away for free...that said, it comes with a steep learning curve and YouTube videos are a godsend.

 

First, I created a base...this required me to learn how to use basic shapes, how to hollow them, and how to utilize vertices to round/smooth edges...in also got me familiar with some of the dozens of hotkeys in the program, and comfortable with working with 3D axis

1.JPG

 

 

Once upon a time during my early days at the unit, my facilities chief was touring the camp and thought he saw a chicken sitting out on the fence. What it turned to be was a styrofoam chicken...which we think may have been used by role players and abandoned. He was in rough shape, missing feathers, with an eye falling off and missing his comb...so we dubbed him war chicken, replaced his comb with a National Defense Ribbon, wrote him an official bio, and tucked him under John's arm. Some of you have met John....https://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/328029-meet-john/&tab=comments#comment-2636297.

 

War Chicken has become sort of our mascot, is present at all unit functions, and occasionally sports an eye patch. So chicken had to be on the coin. I found a free 3D model of a chicken and tooled him up for the coin a bit...learning to bisect unneeded parts and even sculpt an eyepatch. Blender is essentially a giant digital clay sculpting program...

2.JPG

 

 

 

 

Next I had to get chicken on the coin, which required me to further learn to scale and rotate objects, bisect and fill models and parts, as well as combine parts together. Once I put chicken on the coin, however, I realized he protruded rather far...so I had to learn to flatten models and shift them a bit for my purposes. I also found a free 3D EGA and added it to the void to fill up space. The only one I could find of decent quality was an M56...I would much prefer an earlier pattern, but alas none are to be found and I currently lack the skills to sculpt something so detailed myself...

3.JPG

3.1.JPG

-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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Next...I had to add words to the rim. I considered 3D text, but decided instead to engrave the text, so when I 3D print these, I can use a syringe to fill the voids with colored resins to minimize painting.. However, once I start test printing, if the engraving is too narrow, I might have to switch to raised text. This required me to learn how to use text, how to wrap objects, and how to engrave a 3D model...excuse the tilts...engraved words do not appear when viewed straight on since it's all the same color. I had to cant it to capture the details

4.JPG

 

Finally, I decided to fill the void on the rim by added a couple of 4-point stars I found for free on a 3D modeling site....

5.JPG

 

And that completes the first side of the coin. Ultimately, it took me 6-8 hours of work, but largely because it took several tries on a lot of it as I learned new skills and watched tutorials. On the other side, I have a couple of ideas that will also require me to learn a few of the other tools in Blender...once that's done, test prints, and painting. If anyone's interested, I will update this as I go

-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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Brig very impressive! You could up end the entire Northern Virginia Challenge Coin industry! ;) 

Always looking for items associated with the China Marines! Visit chinamarine.org

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Did the other side tonight...much quicker with some of my newly acquired skills.

 

I'm not too confident this side will print right, and if not I have another idea that could replace it. Guess we'll find out once the test prints are done...

 

A couple years ago, the Commandant directed that the Battle Skills Test, or BST, be reinstated, but performance based rather than written test. We decided to put together a comprehensive, week-long training package at Camp Upshur that covered all 30 required skills and culminated in a 12 km, 12 station FINEX. We have done 8 iterations, with the last being the week COVID blew up. About a year ago, I went to combat camera and commissioned a crest to be used of our materials for the course. The Marines over there treated it as a competition, and a few different variants were proposed, but this is the one we ultimately settled on...

B&W.jpg

-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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I decided to incorporate this crest into the coin, which required me to download and learn the basics of INKSCAPE, which allowed me to reformat the image into SVG, which is readable on Blender...While I love the terrain features in the background, it was a bit busy, so I just went with the basics. Once I converted it to svg, I was able to upload it on Blender and render it three dimensional...

8.JPG

9.JPG

-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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Finally...I added some text. I put the unit name above the crest, in raised font. And I engraved the rim with "Camp Upshur" atop. We have a joke motto on Camp Upshur. We are literally as far from the flagpole as one can be on base, and thus mostly escape the politics of the National Capital Reason. Quantico's slogan is "The Crossroads of the Corps". As we like to say about the camp, it's located "Where the Crossroads End"

 

Next step is to test print this and see what alterations or overhauls are needed....

10.JPG

-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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Bravo Zulu.... careful this could a business (BTW I’ll buy one of the first produced).


The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps. (General A. A. Vandegrift, USMC, 5 May 1946)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well...I decided that the original side 2 had too many thin edges that would result in many breaking off, and many more fusing together...so I went ahead and developed a new side B. When we realigned last year, our new parent command for the first several months referred to us as 'The Lost Boys', since we are isolated in the woods and had been surviving with minimal support. (The first year I was here and we were gapped a budget officer, we survived off dumpster diving, the DRMO lot, and a $32 gift card from Home Depot. I want it on that record that we came in under budget with 36 cents remaining on that gift card)

 

The Director when I arrived started a weekly tradition of a command flow chart, whereas the duty is responsible for picking a comedic theme and assigning everyone in our hierarchy a character/object that best represents them. Though we have been through 4 Directors since then, the tradition endures, and the rule is SNCOs and officers are not allowed to get butthurt as long as the Marines don't get disrespectful with it. Over 100 command charts later and there's been no disrespect. Anyway, I made a command chart shortly after the realignment of the Lost Boys, with the Director being the crocodile, who always foils the senior enlisted's (Captain Hook) attempts to crush the spirits of Peter Pan and Wendy (SNCO section heads) and their Lost Boys (the Marines). Using that chart as inspiration, I developed the new side B...

thumbnail (3).jpg

 

The Lost Boys represent the Marines, and Tinkerbell represents the Good Idea Fairy

-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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Yesterday I decided to do a test print, and scaled the coin to 1.5" diameter...printing at .02mm layer height for over 2000 layers, the print took 9.5 hours and printed into the night. I woke to this:

thumbnail (1).jpgthumbnail (2).jpg

 

As you can see, there are some flaws. The bumps on the bottom are not flaws...they are remnants of the supports. Ultimately, they would be filed off in post-production. I have re-scaled to 1.75" diameter and it is printing again. in 11 hours, we'll see how it comes out. Some of the flaws and possible causes/solutions include

 

-Layer lines visible in 3 places. This is likely caused by the flat edge of the coin creating a suction between the resin and the FEP, however could be because of some scuffs on the FEP. I have a new FEP for when I'm satisfied with the final test results, just don't want to wear it down on tests. I have applied a light coat of teflon-based dry lube to the FEP, which I have read helps reduce the suction effect

 

-Chicken's eyepatch and comb being ill-defined. This detail is likely lost due to scale. I am printing it unchanged in larger scaled test 2, however if that fails to achieve the desired effect, then I can either tilt the chicken a bit to raise the relief of the head, or use the clay sculpting tools in Blender to further define those two features.

 

-Raised letters pinched together, and incised letters seemingly pinched together. This is caused by the small size. Resin details too close to each other during the curing process can partially fuse together. Obviously, the letters look much bigger on the model, and it's difficult to really envision the final product until a test print is performed. This fusing will ultimately determine when the coin is a good size, as the letters can't really be increased in size by themselves without compromising the edges of the ring during the printing process. I'm hopeful that 1.75" will be sufficient, however worst case I can bump it to 2". I really don't want to go any larger than 2", as I think oversized coins are obnoxious, almost egotistical, and more reflective of TR table medals than coins.

 

Here's hoping Disney doesn't sue me

-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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Very Cool - You could be setting the new standard for "George" Medals

 

Bill

"The Americans on this Island are not ordinary troops, but Marines, a special force recruited from jails and insane asylums for blood lust." -Japanese Newspaper found during the Battle of Guadalcanal - "They Got That Right!!" Chesty Puller

 

 

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9 hours ago, USMarineCorps said:

What would the unit cost be with this method? Just curious...

 In materials? Haven't done the math, but it would be under $1 each...of course one has to account for possible failures, and discarded resin from the supports. But, still...cheap.

 

More depending on paint and clear coats...time/labor intensive.

 

Incidentally, I am making some tweeks after scaling it up. The incised lettering is continuing to have flaws, which I suspect is from drippage curing when it gets stuck in the letters. It would work on a large scale item, or if I was to tilt the item backwards, but I want to keep the support marks off the faces. Switching to a raised letter approach.

-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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So I was unable to get the letters to stop pinching shut...it will eventually work if I keep scaling up, but I am at as large as I want...see the different sizes below. Ignore the missing chicken...I forgot to reattach it to the model before the test print...

thumbnails.jpg

thumbnail (13).jpg

-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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So I went another direction, and instead went with raised letters on the rim. Also, I decided to make it a little more humorous, and replaced Tinkerbell on the 'S' of BOYS with 'Drinkerbell'

tink1.jpg

And a much clearer test print was produced...

 

thumbnail (14).jpg

thumbnail (15).jpg

 

-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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I have one more modification I need to test print...I added a raised lip around the rim...the idea is to fill the spaces with color-tinted transparent resins to replicate an enamel filled piece...

Capturet.PNG

-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well...final design has been successfully printed and I have ramped up to mass production...5 at a time, with a 13 hour print time per batch...shooting to have these done for the Marines in a month for the USMC birthday

 

While they print, I have begun experimenting with priming and painting. I must say...those of you who paint models well...I have a newfound appreciation for the patience and skill required for a quality paint job...

 

These aren't remotely quality paint jobs...they're me experimenting with different brands and color schemes ...I had a failed batch of coins and am using them to practice my painting, but first just wanted to figure out colors, as well as how to properly thin the paint

 

Brand test... Vallejo vs Citadel black on silver...

thumbnail (1).jpg

 

 

Misc color scheme on rim, to see what I like best...letters in both black and silver on a yellow, red, and copper

thumbnail (2).jpg

 

I'm leaning towards silver on copper, but the next test is to fill with clear resin and see if I like it, or if maybe I want to add a tint of dye to the resin overtop the paint for more of an enamel effect, which wouldn't work well with copper

-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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Must say, I've never been a fan of challenge coins...hell I keep mine in a small box on my desk mixed in with loose change as a statement to those at Quantico who treat them as if they were Pokemon...but I am certainly enjoying the process of designing my own from the ground up...I've begun designing one for each unit/deployment in my career as a side gig...using our inside jokes, slogans, and pinups as inspiration

 

BAGHDAD SWAT TEAM

Capture.PNG

 

 

Rear

Capture2.PNG

 

OIF, based on stencil on our gun truck turrets...I have no idea who came up with it, but I have an idea where they got their inspiration...

Capture3.PNG

 

Norway, based on our arctic exercise

Capture4.PNG

 

Afghanistan, based off our truck's callsign by the Colonel as 'Mystery Mobile' since we had the MWD and he 'never knew who the hell was going to climb out of that one'

Capture5.PNG

-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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9 hours ago, Proud Kraut said:

This topic is uber-cool! Can´t wait to see the finished coins. Guess what´s on the top of my wish list now...

This would actually be great for you since you're a modeler. A lot of model builders and gamers are getting into resin printing since it's much cheaper than buying all the parts in the long run

 

I filled one of the coins with clear resin last night and it's currently curing. Amazing how clear it looks already. I also realized how important it is to level the surface when dealing with items this shallow, as resin is thicker than I thought and self-levels

-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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On 10/11/2020 at 5:25 PM, Brig said:

This would actually be great for you since you're a modeler. A lot of model builders and gamers are getting into resin printing since it's much cheaper than buying all the parts in the long run

 

I filled one of the coins with clear resin last night and it's currently curing. Amazing how clear it looks already. I also realized how important it is to level the surface when dealing with items this shallow, as resin is thicker than I thought and self-levels

 

In fact a buddy of mine, also a modeler, has bought a 3D-printer recently. He promised to send pictures of his first trials. Does the software you are using to design the coins came with the printer?

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On 10/18/2020 at 4:16 PM, Proud Kraut said:

 

In fact a buddy of mine, also a modeler, has bought a 3D-printer recently. He promised to send pictures of his first trials. Does the software you are using to design the coins came with the printer?

No, but it's completely open source and free to download...

 

https://www.blender.org/download/

-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

donation2007.gifdonation2008.gifdonation2009.gifdonation2010.gifdonation2011.gif
donation2012.gifdonation2013.gifdonation2014.gifdonation2015.gifdonation2016.gif
donation2017.gifdonation2018.gifdonation2019.gifdonation2020.gif

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