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
- UI MakerLab
- Beckman Institute
- Deloitte Chicago
- me in tinkercad
- Sebastian Plocek
- Sebastian Plocek
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!
This week was primarily occupied by creating our first 3D print. We spent the majority of the period scanning our faces, cleaning up the scans, and printing the resulting model. This was our first real experience working with the MakerBots and it wasn’t without a hitch. Leveling the platform, something that should have proved a relatively simple process, turned out to be more difficult for me than anticipated. Despite these minor hiccups, I was able to successfully begin my print by the end of class and be able to pick it up the next day.
The first thing I learnt from this experience with the MakerBot is some of the devices drawbacks. While 3D printing is a wonderful tool, the physical limitations of the device can get in the way of the printing of the object. When printing, the plastic outlining my chin and nose drooped slightly. This shows how in order to accurately print objects with that sharp of oblique angles, the MakerBot would need adequate supports in order to allow the MakerBot to accurately corner and support these objects.
I also learnt a valuable lesson in the beginnings of 3D design. In order to learn best of how to work with a thing, its best to work with something you already know fairly well. And what do people know better than their own face? By working with a familiar object, a person can familiarize themselves with the software they are working in, as well as the limitations of the hardware themselves. This learning experience can help inform on how to better improve objects that someone may not be as comfortable working with, such as an object that may only exist in the designers mind.
Going into the future, I will keep this experience in mind with designing my own objects. The complexity of the model is no impediment to the physical manifestation to the object. However, there are some aspects of design that the printer cannot handle. I think going into the future, I will focus on working from objects that I have experience with objects on Thingiverse that others have designed.
By working with other objects, I can find how I can put my own personal spin on these ideas and make them work for me.
I was quite excited about my first class of DigitalMaking! I’ve never been to a 3d printing lab before, so even the atmosphere with all these MakerBots around was a new for me! But why do I have missed the first class, the week before? I’m an exchange student from Austria and was not aware that this course even exist until Vishal announced it in another BADM class!
I haven’t heard about Tinkercad before. I did not expect that it is that easy to create 3d object. Within 30 minutes I created the first prototype of our team logo. Following major steps were made
- The cube is a predefined object in Tinkercad. Just the size must be adjusted
- The number 3 and the letter D were placed on the top. Angle and size were adjusted. The letters should be “outside” of the printed cube.
- On the five sides remaining I placed the letters of our team named SENOL. These letters should be “inside” of the printed cube.
- Finally, I wanted to have a “adapter” to make the cube a key fob. This was quite tricky, because of the angle of this detail. I designed it out of two cylinders. One for the printed object, and one for the hole inside.
One the printed object I recognized a few mistakes, that I’ve designed wrong.
- There are different depths inside the cube of the letters SENOL
- The letter L is mirrored.
While you are sitting in front of your computer designing new objects or sitting in front of a makerbot when it is printing new objects, one can really get addicted to 3D printing! There are a bunch of sites online where you can view and download objects other users have designed and shared. I started to think, what the next object I print could look like. Here are a few ideas:
- A wall cleat to place a cable when it is not in use! I like the idea, to replace the normal cover with a one that has a function. I think about a “function” like a mobile phone mounting while charging.
- Eggcups are a good idea for making nice gifts for anyone. However, I think that this object would need a bigger base to stand stable and there must be different sizes for different eggs.
- This Pen&Card Stand is a good example of useful 3d objects for daily usage on your own desk. When I was looking at similar objects I thought about making a bigger object to put in kitchen knives.
- When you have a OnePlus One, like I do, you do might also have the problem, that there are not many accessories available to buy. You can not buy a docking station, but you can print it! This object has been published on Nov 23, 2014 but it has been modified a few times. I’m sorry to say, that there nothing I see to improve. I just want to print my own “copy”!