Print Objects Not Paper – #DigitalMaking

It all started when I blissfully entered Vishal’s office through the MakerLab a year and a half ago. I had entered to clear my queries regarding queries (query-ception) for BADM 352 and was immediately puzzled by the weird shapes and objects placed all over the lab, instantly misinterpreting it to be a collector’s pad (with Vishal obviously the collector here). After my meeting with Vishal, I stepped back into the lab and it hit me that I had been living under a cave, there were printers that printed objects, yes, created objects, and there I was, wondering only a while ago why printing on both sides of one sheet was not cheaper than printing out two sheets. I soon followed up with Vishal during the expo for the ‘Making Things’ class and signed myself up for the DMS. That was they day my Digital Making experience began.

Unlike most classes, I did not know what to expect. Exams? Readings about printers? Learn a programming language? I did know one thing though, I wanted to know how this new technology was going to impact my life, both as a professional and as a person. Being a Supply Chain major, I was already curious as to how the ability to print objects would affect global supply chains. How can 3D Printing benefit a company like Boeing if a crucial piece of mechanical equipment could only be made in a lab in Germany could be made right where they wanted it, in Seattle? My questions were answered on the very first day of class, when two Wharton MBA grads spoke to us about the scope of ‘additive manufacturing’ for supply chain management, and I went on to write an article about our classroom discussion with them.

After that, the class followed a path through which I have come to realize the multiple stages of a product/object being printed, after all, the printer doesn’t make objects out of thin air, it needs a virtual model to make a physical one, and how do we create a virtual one? Either through CAD (Computer Aided Design and Drafting) software or through a scan of an existing object. My introduction to both these channels resulted in me gaining elementary proficiency in AutoDesk Fusion and just simple awe from watching a powerful $80,000 scanner in action taking thousands of individual pictures to generate a highly detailed virtual model of this awesome racing glove. Fusion can be frustrating if you try to learn it by yourself – I can say so as it was hard for me despite being coached in-part by the makers of the software itself. Attempts at building a water gun were demolished when I realized that creating a piston along the shaft that connects the tank to the trigger needs more design experience and patience that I didn’t have (but hope to achieve someday soon). While it was hard enough to use the software, imagining what went into the making of this software just makes me dizzy.


While there was definitely a lot more to be learnt in the CAD modeling area alone, the class moved in the direction of quantity over quality, which is necessary as going in-depth into a particular area like CAD modeling alone would need total devotion for an entire semester. FabLab (the place really is ‘fab’) sessions were my favorite part of the class, as it exposed us to new realms in terms of disruptive technologies. Laser Cutting and its many applications were great to learn about, although I would recommend being careful when placing a weight over notebooks to hold them in the laser tray, as you can see below, my weight placement led to part of my message being in-scripted elsewhere! Arduinos – the boards that weird pins stick of (or boards that you can plug sensors into and help save lives), were a unique concept to get acquainted with, while I didn’t get too far in one session, a team in my class developed a pill-box that sends out an alert if a patient has not taken their pills, just by sensing the weight of the box in relation to time! For the same event that the pill-box was made for, the team I was part of made a grip support brace, called the Gripping-Bean. It is meant to add girth to objects with thin handles so as to force its user to recruit more muscle fibers when holding said object. It can be really useful for people with hand tremors, people in substance rehab going through withdrawal effects and most importantly, for people with severe arthritis. 3D Printing allowed us to create prototypes and we had our first model printed within 4 hours of completing our CAD model.
prototype 1

I am lucky in the sense that I will be working at a firm that values 3D Printing for its pending (and almost certain) impact on businesses of all kind. I did not have the time to take Deloitte University’s online course on 3D Printing, but I intend to do so over the summer and have a chat with it’s director, Mark Cotteleer, when I visit DU in the fall. I have come to view 3D Printing as more than just an interesting new technology after this class. I now see 3D Printing as a field in which I need to maximize my knowledge in order to make myself a more competent professional. When I joined Illinois, my ‘Business 101’ class section leader used to emphasize the need for graduates to be well versed with MS-Office applications as tech skills are crucial to career growth. A few years from now, I can see the DMS becoming a core requirement (like CS 105) for the College of Business and I am thankful to have been part of the first class. For me, DMS not only stoked a growing interest towards 3D Printing, it also taught me the importance of familiarizing oneself with new technology in order to be a more well rounded professional.


The Perfect Prototype

The Digital Making course of Spring 2015 was somewhat of a prototype in its own way. It made its appearance, and it was our job as a class to work out the kinks and create a final product that works for many semesters to come. What miraculously occurred, which never happens, was the perfect prototype.

It started with a group of students. All of us coming from different backgrounds- journalism, business, accounting, art, supply chain, you name it. All of us with goals to “make”. We were thrown into a room full of software, supplies, and 3D printers, and the craziest thing happened- we learned how to use them. We came together with Beckman, the FabLab, the AutoDesk crew, and the MakerLab to learn everything we could about what’s available. We learned about using Fusion 360, the laser cutter, and everything in between.

I felt like I had a solid understanding of most of these things, such as CAD programs and digital making devices, but the digital making course taught me to apply them.

Fusion 360: 

I fell in love with this program. It was so easy to use and create shapes that would be nearly impossibleScreen Shot 2015-05-13 at 3.25.13 PM on programs like SolidWorks. After really playing with it, I found myself telling more and more of my classmates in the industrial design program how great Fusion was (as we all had to suffer through learning SolidWorks this semester) and I picked up a huge interest in creating a program to teach newcomers how to use Fusion.

Originally, I planned to work with the MakerLab for this program. Throughout the semester, this sort of fell through. However, I was put in contact with the MakerGirl group on campus. This summer they’ve presented me with the opportunity to work with their program. After speaking with Julia, the leader and commander of the group, I pitched my Fusion workshop idea to her and it sounds like something that may get integrated into this summer’s program!

My workshop will teach girls that have been through the MakerGirl programs to use Fusion, and create a gummy bear. Where’d this idea come from, you ask? I was eating gummy bears. The gummy bear is a very basic shape to create that integrateGummy BearGummy Bear 2s the use of basic tools, and highlights the organic capacity of the program. In the end, they’d be able to print their creation, add a loop to the top, and put their bears on a keychain. If this proves to be a success, I would love to go forth next year and continue to develop the workshop for students coming into the MakerLab.

I will continue to work with MakerGirl over the summer to develop and create new ideas for programs that integrate what I’ve learned from my background in design, as well as Digital Making to teach girls ages 9-14 about digital creation.

The Make-a-thon:

We created the LimaGrip! This process was a lesson on patience that’s for sure. Filaments were a struggle, sizing was obnoxious, and I had to CAD this thing like a jillion times to get it right, but the idea was that we created something. The whole premise behind this Lima Grippercourse was to ideate something new and learn our resources to create it. We teamed up with the FabLab to make a bean that would improve grip in the elderly, and those affected with Parkinsons or tremors.

Thus, the bean was born. Kavin and Lin and I worked together to bring in knowledge from all aspects of life to create a product that made a difference. Kavin even pulled influenceIMG_20150412_101551 from body-building for the materials used in the bean. This experience in itself was a massive lesson on product creation and everything in between and that’s extremely applicable to what I intend to do with my career. GroupIMG_5933IMG_5935

The FabLab: 

We created all sorts of cool things here. I engraved journals, made stickers, (tried) digital embroidery, and learned how to code. Those basic tools can be now applied to all sorts of things through laser engraving, basic coding, and embroidery. All leading to my grand plans of making it big on Etsy.


BovineFab Lab


This course was different than anything I’ve experienced. I learned in a way that was unstructured, yet provided me with any opportunity to explore all sorts of avenues that I had never considered. Vishal was an incredible instructor who was able to bring us all together, teach us how to use our Kavinresources and what he didn’t know, he worked hard to find out for us and point us in the right direction. There were tons of laughs and frustrations, but all of us came together to create some pretty cool stuff.

I highly recommend opportunities similar to this for anyone who is presented with the chance to get involved. Maker Spaces are on the rise as is digital creation and it’s imperative to get your foot in the door because this is the future, and it’s important to know how to use it.

What I learned from Digital Making

I took this class originally to learn how to model, not knowing that I would actually only spend a portion of the semester with modeling softwares. Eventually we toured most of the major making topics: programming, sewing, ideating, scanning and carving. We bounced from additive manufacturing to subtractive, and I learned more about this broad topic of making than I ever would have if this course looked at it strictly from a modeling perspective. Below, I catalog what I’ve learned:


Modeling: What I learned

We started out the semester learning how to model on the simple to use, browser based program tinkercad. With this program, we were able to print out basic shapes, to heights and thicknesses we dictated. We even imported scans of our faces and made busts of ourselves. Me, I made a short mug.

From there, we learned how to use a more advanced software called Autodesk Fusion 360. We were given a workshop by a pair of instructors from the company, and we made lamps.

I didn’t really grasp the program at the time, I’m a journalism major after all, but I chose to apply what I gained at the workshop and watched learning videos with their helpful website. From there, I was able to work on a semester long project and made an advanced model of a spaceship.

Programming: What I learned

During a 3-week stint at a local making lab, I had the opportunity to play with a breadboard, some wiring, sensors, LEDs and “arduinos.” Through the arduino software installed on the lab’s computers, I was able to tell the LEDs when to turn on. I essentially made a night light.

Sewing: What I learned

Also while I was at this lab, I learned how to upload a silhouette onto a sewing machine, apply patterns, and automatically sew a patch. The next week I did something similar with applying a few silhouettes to a plank of wood in a wood cutter. WP_20150405_001

Ideating: What I learned

Lastly, we had a design thinking workshop during one of our classes, where I learned how to use a good process to get to a final design. From thinking of a problem, to thinking of and enhancing a solution, I learned just how designers do what they do.

So what exactly does all this mean?

As I said earlier, I came to this class with a journalism background, but that didn’t really inhibit me. Through this class, I was able to apply myself in ways I haven’t in a long time.

This class has opened up a whole world of things that I can make and do – from doorstops to birthday presents. All I have to do is take a few hours and learn how to do it.

My DigitalMaking Experience

In January 2015 I came to the US and to the University of Illinois to study abroad for one semester. Back home I had to chose several classes. Digital Making was of course not one of them, because nobody had told me before about it. However, Database Design, a class also offered by Vishal, was one of them. During the first class of Database he mentioned the MakerLab, the worlds first 3d printing lab at a Business College. I was impressed, I’ve heard a lot about 3d printing before, but I haven’t seen a printer in real life before. Of course, there are many 3d printers in Vienna as well. There are some at the FabLab, at the Technical University, and so on… Nevertheless, that day Vishal also mentioned his course DigitalMaking! So I asked Vishal if I could participate and I also asked him if I would receive credits for that course. I thought: „An interesting and fun class, that’s not something you get credits for!“ But we did!

First of all, I want to say what I expected this class to be – and what it was not about. I expected this class to be all about 3d printing. Isn’t it taught at the MakerLab?
Of course, this course was about 3d printing, but that was only one piece. It is a lot more and therefore you don’t have to be afraid to be locked into the MakerLab the whole semester! 🙂 Let me organize all facilities as a list

Truly, I can say that I have learned a lot in this course! We started by designing simple things on Tinkercad, moved on to scanning and printing our own head. We thought about finding solutions for several problems and we later started using the powerful tool Fusion 360. We used a more precise 3d scanner and of course printed our scan. We „printed“ by stitching and engraved paper and wood, and we learned about the small but powerful Arduionos.

But what was this all for? For me, it was a hands on experience on several different tools. I think Vishal designed this course to show us all these tools to use them in future. It is not possible to try every tool in detail in class, but you are able to get to know them.

So I got to know all these different tools, and I can tell you, I will use all of them in future! I have plans to buy an Arduino, a temperature sensor and an Wifi Add-On like this to connect it to IFTTT and my Nest Thermostat. I have also several ideas of things I wanted to design and 3d-print. As I am going home in a few weeks, I will not be able to use the facilities at UIUC but I’m looking forward to visiting similar facilities at Vienna!

Semester of Making and Learning

This past semester has been a truly engaging and rewarding experience all due to the Digital Making course. I first enrolled in the class because I had an interest in 3D printing; little did I know that the class was so much more than that. Throughout the course we were able to work with 3D printing and scanning, Fusion 360, digital embroidery, and Arduinos. We also went on a few field trips to the Beckman Institute and the Fab Lab. Some of the students also took the opportunity to go to Deloitte in Chicago. It’s been such an exciting time being in this class and it’s opened my eyes to the maker world.


3D printed model of myself

As mentioned, over the semester, we worked on a variety of projects including making a print of ourselves! The entire process was completely new to me. We used a portable scanner that took a rough scan of our heads and uploaded it where we could make any additions or changes to the model. I chose to personalize it with my name and soon we had our own 3D print! Diving deeper into the 3D printing and modeling realm, we started learning about Autodesk Fusion 360 which is a software that enables users to start from a 3D box and from there model anything imaginable. One of my classmates, Austin, designed an entire spaceship, very cool. Fusion 360 taught me that it takes time and lots of practice to get used to such advanced software, but if you put in the effort then it really does pay off.

Working with Fusion 360


Making headphones in Fusion 360







The trip to Beckman was interesting as well. While there we saw Travis work on scanning Arielle’s racing glove with the very high-tech and expensive scanner. I learned that there is a lot of editing and cleaning up that has to be done when scanning so it’s very tedious work. What was also interesting was that the scanner couldn’t pick up certain types of material or surfaces. In this case, talcum powder is best used to help the scanner pick up the object. I would have loved to spend more time watching Travis at work and possibly to some more proactive activities at Beckman.


Travis with the Beckman scanner

The Fab Lab, on the other hand, was very much so hands-on. Here the staff led us through all different types of making activities such as embroidery, Arduinos, and laser cutting. Everyone there is super friendly and always willing to lend a helping hand if need be. For the digital embroidery, I started out by choosing a design on Google and with some editing it was ready to be uploaded to the machine. My design took a while to color in all of the leaves, but it turned out great. The Arduinos are very small in size, but they can be applied to many different things. We were able to install a light, a sensor, and a speaker. While in the Arduino lab, some of us worked on soldering wire to speakers which was a lot of fun!


Digital embroidery


Playing with Arduinos









This class has given me a strong foundation to further strengthen my skills in the making community. I’d like to learn more about Arduinos and their application because there are so many possibilities out there.  From taking this course, I’ve also looked at things differently, especially products. Recently, when I was at my parent’s house I noticed a specific product that was very clever life hack and could easily be 3D printed. We were very lucky to have such amazing opportunities and professionals that helped us through the semester to develop our skills as makers. As a graduating senior, Digital Making was one of the most fascinating, hands-on classes I’ve taken.

A semester of #DigitalMaking

Before we get started, watch this video I made for the course! I think it is cool. Maybe you might too.

I am a member of the maker movement. Starting this semester, my experience with making went from zero to sixty in just a matter of days. After months of working in the hands on environments of the MakerLab and FabLab, I feel comfortable calling myself a maker!

I have always been artistically and creatively inclined. Naturally, I went into studying Information Technology! The sarcasm that might have used to exist in that last sentence has really diminished since taking this course. I’ve gotten my feet wet with software and hardware that puts the power of creation in my hands. I’ll go into detail about the skills I have been exposed to and their implications.

CAD (Computer Aided Design) and 3D Printing.

Upon entering the MakerLab for the first day, I felt like I had a good idea of what 3D printing was. I guess I always knew that the printed object had to come from some digital location, but I had never really reflected on the process itself. Then comes TinkerCad!


My mom always suggested I had a whole in my head

Messing around with TinkerCad (I already made a joke about “tinkering” with TinkerCad in an earlier post) opened so many doors for the me and the class right off the bat. It gave me a good concept of what CAD was and its importance to the modeling and printing processes. By significance, I learned the processes wouldn’t be possible without it. Soon After we were riding the Fusion 360 train. This time, rather than taking an existing file and manipulating it (AKA taking my face and putting a hole in it), we learned to create something out of nothing. This was awesome because it gave me a taste of what industrial designers do and how their work is now being impacted by the icnreasingly accesible world of digital making. After a session with the AutoDesk rep, I created a design of a lamp from pure imagination. The implications of this? Fast prototyping with 3D printing. Create anything with a digital model and in seconds you have the ability to print the object. I can think of a lot of employers (I am interested in Tech Consulting) who would be interested to hear that I have hands on experience with just that.


A Chicago themed phone case I printed for my iPhone

3D Scanning

Other than briefly getting in touch with 3D scanning the first two weeks with the iPad scanning app, I really got the deep dive into 3D scanning during our time at the Beckman Institute.

2015-03-03 3D Scanning - 5784

Scanning Arielle’s Racing Glove!

No joke, last summer I had a startup idea that involved scanning objects with cameras and turning them into digital objects. WOW I was late to the party. Other than the supply chain effects that 3D printing will have on the business world, learning about object scanning was definitely the highlight of the course in terms of getting an idea of what businesses are using the technology for. The process is amazing and the majority of the work lies in rendering and tinkering with the object on software like GeoMagic.

The FabLab (Embroidery, lasers and arduinos)

FabLab functions as a workshop for the community to do computer-focused innovation, design and fabrication. The idea behind the FabLab is to get people excited about the DIY (do it yourself) movement and and fabrication. Their labs have 3D printers, scanners, engraving tools, a woodshop, small robotics and more. It was awesome to get a hands on sessions with the tools available in the FabLab.

IMG_0297The sessions going through digital emrboridery, laser cutting and arduinos were all incredibly interesting. On top of that, I walked away with four things that I created. Without getting into too much detail, I can lay out three takeways from the FabLab. First off, the world is our oyster. In three sessions at the FabLab I learned how to be a functional user of three unique technologies. The learning curve is there, but it is incredibly small. Secondly, the barriers to entry are low and getting lower. What I mean is that the cost to buy a lot of these technologies are through the floor. With the exception of a laser cutter 3D printers, arduinos and digitial embroidery sewing machines can all be purchased for under $200 dollars depending on the models. That is incredibly empowering for the maker movement because it means that it costs that much less to start making. Lastly, the implications of my last two points are HUGE for getting kids excited about STEAM (the A is for art, learned that in the FabLab)!

Champaign Fab Lab

The Champaign Fab Lab

Beyond the classroom (or the laboratory)

So I’m not in Digital Making Seminar anymore. As for the Maker Movement, there is a lot of momentum for the MakerLab and its impact on this university.

The first week of class I learned about how interested tech companies are in the skills that we would be learning in this course. This got me especially excited because at the time I was still exploring the options ahead of me in terms of my professional life. Although for the most part my time in BADM 395 felt more like play than it did like work, I now know that taking a class like this can be incredibly useful for students in any curriculum.

My semester project involved taking an interactive course online through Deloitte University that explored the industry applications of additive manufacturing. This online class as well as my hands on tinkering in DMS have led me to explore an interest in technology consulting. The world is changing with digital making technologies, why shouldn’t I be the one who help people learn how to change as well?

My good friend Gian is working in the MakerLab so I am more than positive he’ll drag me back to the lab at some point (not that I’ll need to be coerced)!


Me, driving a fake car, looking dumb

My Semester of Digital Making

I have learned so much about digital making this semester! I’m going to break down some of the main things I learned, then talk about what this experience means to me as well as what I plan to use this knowledge for in the future.

What I Learned:

3D Printing and Scanning
2015-02-10 17.27.40

One of the first things I learned this semester was 3D printing and scanning, which makes sense since our class was held in the Maker Lab. We were introduced to the many sources to find 3D printable files, the software to edit files, and then how to print the files.

The first thing I edited and printed myself…was myself! We learned how to use a scanner that was very easy to use, then got to edit it however we liked. I went with a simple stand to create a bust of myself.

I later printed many objects including detailed jewelry, a candle holder, and a brain.

Fusion 360
Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 4.52.55 PM

The next thing I learned about in class was how to create 3D objects in a software called Fusion 360. It is a way to make 3D designs into almost anything imaginable. It is quite complicated to learn, but once you understand some of the basic functions the possibilities are endless.

I followed the in-class tutorial to create a lamp and also tried to make some other objects outside of class including headphones. I’m not sure I will be using Fusion 360 beyond this semester, but I know it is available to me if I have a use for it.

InkScape (for laser engraving and vinyl cutting)

2015-03-31 17.45.49The first week in the Fab Lab I was introduced to InkScape and learned how to edit images in order to create amazing things. I first used a laser cutter to engrave a journal. I also used an electronic cutter to cut out a vinyl sticker.

I had a lot of fun making both of these items. I was able to use InkScape in other projects as well this semester including the digital embroidery patch below.

2015-04-07 15.16.09

The second week in the Fab Lab I got to learn about Arduinos. I used the Arduino Uno and we were given basic items to get started on our learning. I followed online tutorials to run programs like the basic blink and fade, then added in an LED.

I also got to learn about different types of sensors that can be used with Arduinos. I was able to use this in the CU Make-a-thon in my group project for the semester to create a pillbox for the elderly that senses when you take a pill out of the container.

Digital Embroidery

2015-04-21 17.16.24

The last week in the Fab Lab I learned about digital embroidery. I had created a design in InkScape in preparation for class because I wanted to make a gift for my roommate’s birthday, so I got to focus on learning how the process works rather than designing.

I chose different patterns for each part of the design then threaded the sewing machine and watched the magic happen. I was amazed by how accurate the stitches were.

This project, as well as all of the others mentioned above, can be found with more details on my previous blog posts:

Take Aways:

This class taught me so much about the world of digital making. I am very grateful for the experience and I wish I could take this class again next semester.

I started in the class having no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know anything about 3D printing or other digital making technologies. Also, I didn’t know about the other digital making spaces that are around campus. I was amazed from all of the information I learned in the first few class sessions. The scope of the technology that exists is so far beyond what I initially imagined.

Now that I have completed the course I can say that I am much more aware of what is available to me and have a better insight into the digital making world. And I have loved sharing my learning with my friends and family.

I plan to return to the Maker Lab and the Fab Lab next semester to teach my sister (an incoming Freshman) all about what I have learned this semester. Hopefully we can learn even more together. I look forward to exploring deeper into the technologies I learned about and beyond. I can’t wait to see all the projects that can come out of it!

I encourage everyone to try out digital making in any or all of its forms because the technology is useful to anyone no matter the age, gender, ethnicity, or interests. The digital making world welcomes all makers, no experience necessary!

Any questions about my projects or experiences in this class can be directed to my email or message me on twitter @ARoseK10.

What I made in Digital Making

Through the Digital Making course at the University of Illinois, I’ve been able to pursue something I’ve always wanted to get into: spaceship modeling.

I grew up playing-out space battles with model ships from Star Trek, and little Bionicle and Lego contraptions I thought up. I used bottlecaps and Wint-o-Green mints too. As I played, I imagined an entire universe outside of myself – a universe of aliens and knights, of spaceships and complex alliances.

I’ve taken that imagined universe and written it down, in dozens of pages of notebooks and word docs. My goal is to make it an online book one day, but always another goal of mine was to actually make the ships I thought up in my head, and not just imagine it as a bottlecap. I accomplished that this semester, and made the most important ship in my universe. Give it a gander:


I made the SS Valhalla with Fusion 360, and its took several incarnations to get me to where I am today. It’s finally finished, and as I’m writing this, it’s being printed. You can print it for yourself here.

As I move forward with my universe and eventually publish my stories, I intend to make this ship, and the others that will follow it, integral to the reading experience. I want my readers to read the words and click on them, landing them onto a thingiverse page where they can print it for themselves.

I want my readers to make their own ships and contribute them to the lore.

I want to change and innovate science fiction, making it more than just words on a page. I want to make my universe a digital gateway to imagination in a way that wasn’t possible 10 years ago.

Email me at if you want an email sometime when I’m ready to unveil the project, hopefully over the next year or so.

Digital Making: A Semester of Creativity

This semester provided numerous experiences in expanding my horizons of how I can create products. My education thus far, while extremely valuable, has prepared me for continuing the operations large institutions. While this is a valuable skill set, it does not focus on creativity or creation of products.

Learning to Make

I entered this class with a rudimentary understanding of what 3D printing was and how it could be used to make custom iPhone cases. However, I had little knowledge of the broader maker movement or its implications beyond 3D printing. This course has taught me a broader appreciation of all things related to this phenomenon.


The beginning of this course explored the materials that we had in the MakerLab. Using TinkerCad, handheld scanners, and eventually Fusion 360, we were able to design products and bring them into the physical space. The process of creating something from scratch provided a pleasant refreshment from the other tasks of my education.

Later in the course, we broadened our learning to other technologies in the Maker Movement. With help from the Beckmen Institute and the CU FabLab, our class was exposed to 3D scanning, laser engraving, digital embroidery, and arduinos. These technologies only increased our classes capabilities and knowledge to create incredible works of art and engineering.

Changing Thinking

Learning these skills only gave me a taste of what the Maker Movement provides. Knowing some of the skills taught by this phenomena will better equip me to understand these people  who work in fields where the democratization of manufacturing would be applicable. As I talked about previously, my education is focused existing industry and preparing me to work in that world. However, this class exposed me to an entirely new industry and its thinking. If I chose to work in this field, I would be more poised to succeed due to my prior knowledge.

This class has also changed the way I think about preexisting products in my day to day life. Now, when I look at a cup or a phone case, I don’t think about where I need to buy one if I replace it. Instead, I think if it would be better to make one myself, or if there was something I could improve upon. I could go on thingiverse, download a file for a replacement product, edit it if I desire, and print one off. Instead of accepting what is in front of me, I can now question what exists and seek to improve it.

Beyond the Classroom

This class has come to an end, however, the Maker Movement is still going strong. For my professional path, I am not yet sure if I will pursue a career in this field. However, in my chosen field of consulting, it is likely that I will encounter some businesses in the additive manufacturing field. With this class, I will better be able understand these individuals and work towards solving their problems.

I also don’t believe that I will stop honing my skills after this course has ended. While I have gained some skills with CAD, I wish to further work with Fusion 360 to create more sophisticated designs. I also hope to keep using the FabLab to continue to make artwork for my own enjoyment.

All in all, this course has vastly improved both my interest and ability in Digital Making. The concepts taught in this course have shown me a new world of business and my own personal projects.

Biomedical Use of 3D Printing

The medical uses of 3D printing have grown significantly in the past few years with advancements in the technologies available. Not only can exact versions of patient organs be printed using a variety of materials, but there have been advancements that have allowed for real organs to be printed to replace the originals. Also, stem cells, blood vessels, tissues, cartilage, bones, and cancer cells are being printed.

Biomedical imaging is the main source for the files needed to be able to print the organs, cells, tissues, etc. Some types of biomedical imaging include CT scans, MRIs, X-rays, and ultrasounds. Most of these produce DICOM (.dcm) files that can be viewed in OsiriX and edited in Meshlab, both free-to-download software that I used in my research.

1st attempt: Human Skull

Very early on in my research, I learned that DICOM files are hard to find without patient permission and many of the files are hard to work with. My first type of file that I learned how to use the software with was a human skull.

I started in OsiriX and produced a 3D rendering that was very easy to work with since it had very little editing involved. Here is a progression of the file:

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 1.58.05 PM

3D surface rendering in OsiriX

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 2.08.30 PM

Edited file in Meshlab

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 2.24.45 PM

Edited file in Maker software







I found out quickly that while the skull was easy to edit, it was not going to print without some major cuts and super glue.

2nd attempt: Human Heart

I decided to challenge myself to a more advanced file to learn more about the software and the world of biomedical 3D printing. I chose to work with a heart because I knew it was a little more interesting than a skull, but I was not prepared for all the challenges that comes with editing an organ file.

First of all, finding a heart file that rendered clean was pretty much impossible with the resources I had. Most files came up very messy or were not what I was looking for. Also, once I had a file, it was basically impossible to edit to a printable form. Here’s my attempt to edit a human heart:

3D rendering in OsiriX

3D rendering in OsiriX

Edited version in Meshlab

Edited version in Meshlab







Clearly, there was not much I could do with the file I had. There was too much to work with and I didn’t know enough about the file or the software to make it printable.

Final attempt: Human Brain

After a lot of frustration working with heart files, I talked with a good friend of mine from back home who is studying medicine at another university. She was very interested in my project and told me she had some MRI scans laying around from a few years ago. She was a pleomorphic liposarcoma patient and went through 2 surgeries in 2009. The files she gave me were from a check up in 2012.

Her cancer was below her cheek, so the MRI was from her neck up and cut off the very top of her head. This was semi-unfortunate for me, but I still wanted to work with her files because of the story behind it. She is now a 5 year cancer survivor and I was excited to see what I could do with her MRI. Here is a progression of the file:

2D rendering without editing in OsiriX

2D rendering without editing in OsiriX

3D surface rendering in Osirix without editing

3D surface rendering in Osirix without editing

2D slice with individually edited out non-brain parts

2D slice with individually edited out non-brain parts in OsiriX

3D surface rendering of edited version in OsiriX

3D surface rendering of edited version in OsiriX

Ready-to-print file in Maker software

Ready-to-print file in Maker software

Successful print

Successful print

















The top of the file being cut off in the MRI was almost helpful with the actual print because it created a flat surface. I would have liked to have a complete brain, but what ended up printing was enough for me to be satisfied. Also, I learned that it is possible that I cut out too much while I was editing the individual slices, so more knowledge with MRI scans is encouraged before taking on this type of project. But, overall, I am thrilled with the results and I’m excited to give my friend a 3D print of her brain!

Biomedical 3D Printing Community

While there are not many resources to get the files necessary to 3D print organs and such, the small community that exists for this type of work is amazing. I found a great resource here: This resource includes blogs, forums to ask questions, and a source for files ready for printing. It’s great to see that there are people out there that want to teach what they know about 3D printing and making it useful in the biomedical field.

I am very interested to see where biomedical 3D printing goes in the coming years. I believe it will continue to grow and become even more popular as the technology advances.

I encourage anyone interested in the topic to explore the basic software and try out 3D printing at the Maker Lab or your local Makerspace. I’ve learned a lot from just messing around with the different functions in the software, and there are some tutorials that go step-by-step online that are pretty useful for beginners. If you are interested in hearing more about my research, feel free to contact me at or via twitter @ARoseK10.