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
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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
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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.

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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

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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.

Fab Lab – Week 3 (& Reunion)

This week we returned to the Fab Lab for our final session. I already had an idea what I was doing based on my classmates’ work in the prior weeks, so I was excited to learn the last topic. I got to try out digital embroidery!

I was excited to return to the Fab Lab this week, so I planned ahead and made a design that had some meaning behind it. So this week was especially exciting because my roommate for the last 3 years was returning from her semester abroad in London! She actually was meeting me right after class that day and planned to stay through the weekend. Here is a picture of her from the last day in London.

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Since I knew she was visiting me and it was also her birthday a few days before, I decided to make her something in class this week. After a brief introduction to the sewing machine I was using and the software, I was off to importing my design and choosing my patterns and colors. Here is the design as I was choosing the patterns and trying to pick some colors.

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Before I tried the intricate design with the lettering, I did a test run of a smaller scale version. I should note why there is a girl holding a flag…my roommate is on the Marching Illini Color Guard, and is a returning captain for the upcoming season. Anyways, here was the test run and some of the process.

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I was really excited that there was a pattern of music notes, and I loved how it looked in the background. Since the smaller scale one was quick and easy, I tried out the one with the letters added on.

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I was so happy with the results! I had a little trouble with the letters, but I didn’t have a lot of time to perfect it because I had to go meet my roommate and show her what I made! The main issue I was having besides the loose thread between the letters that I needed to cut off, was the bobbin thread got pulled through for some of the letters. So I ended up going over a few parts to correct the problem. I wanted to go over the blue letters again, but I was already running late by correcting the silver letters. But it turned out that my roommate loved it and was not expecting it at all! She wants to sew the patches onto her duffle bag for this season! Here’s a picture of us reunited.

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I had a great week in class and with her. I’m so glad I got to see her and I can’t wait to see the patch on her duffle bag. I may have requests from the rest of the team so they can have matching ones. I hope that I can return to the Fab Lab after this semester for fun projects like this.