Soon after I first joined the Fraser group, I had the great pleasure to be put into the basement, and into the “metallurgical play pen”, where we used the first LENS™ system to conduct studies on the effect of composition on microstructure and phase stability. Simultaneously, he was building infrastructure including some of the earliest DualBeam FIB/SEM systems, and moving toward other incredible electron microscopes. In later days, we did a deep dive into advanced characterization and modeling as part of the DARPA D-3D program. In all of these activities, we were encouraged to ask good questions (how and why) and have fun. As a result, I am a far better scientist having learned to love the “metallurgical play pen”. I will present some exciting research into additive manufacturing and advanced characterization, whose roots go back to my time in the Fraser group.