Racing Gloves

We were already well into the first month of class, and I still couldn’t decide what I was going to do my semester long project about. Then Vishal told us we were taking a field trip to the Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology, with the assignment of bringing an object to 3D scan. I racked my brain for a while trying to come up with an object that was interesting and maybe held potential to be turned into something more.

2015-03-03 3D Scanning - 5784Then later, at track practice, my coach suggested trying to scan one of the handmade gloves we use to race. Usually the gloves take hours and hours to make- custom fit for each racer, not to mention their 350.00 dollar price tag. One pair will last a long time, but since they are so unique they can never be exactly duplicated. This sounded like the perfect kind of item to try and scan, because having a 3D model that you could print over and over again would open up many possibilities.

Sebastian and Mark were also interested in this project, so the three of us set out to try and make the world’s first 3D printed wheelchair racing glove!
IMG_7091After Travis (from the Vis Lab over at Beckman) completed the scan and cleaned up the glove file, we were off to work! We were incredibly lucky and barely had to manipulate the design at all in Geomagic because the scanner was so precise. Surprisingly, the very first time we tried to print our glove, it worked! Afterwards, when trying to make duplicates, we had a lot of trouble positioning it correctly on the raft so print would not fail, but eventually we figured out the best angle and direction to place the glove in order for the prints to continuously be successful.



Once we had our first printed glove, we got to work testing it. I added the additional materials needed to generate grip when pushing at high speeds- some suede and rubber- and encountered a little trouble getting these materials to stick to a different kind of plastic than I was accustomed to.

IMG_0384Once I discovered that using contact cement was the best method, I started putting the glove to good use! We were very excited that the glove held up after just using it for one training run, but we’re happy to announce that the glove is still working perfectly after over 200 miles of force and exertion.


IMG_7456The next step was mirroring the 3D glove file in order to print another glove for my right hand.  Once we figured that out, I added the same extra materials and used the gloves to race in the 2015 Boston Marathon. They worked beautifully!



The things that make this project so successful though were all of the benefits we discovered after the prints proved their durability. For one thing, the plastic that we printed with is incredibly lightweight. My original gloves weighed 174 grams each, and the printed glove only weighs 70 grams. It may not sound like much, but this, I’ve noticed, makes a significant difference when using the gloves to climb hills and push at high speeds. Their lightweight quality also aids in injury prevention. It is common among wheelchair racers to get tendonitis in the wrist from overuse, but the 100 grams that the printed gloves shave off put less stress on the tendons and hopefully decrease the risk of injury. The cost is another great advantage! To print a single glove cost only 4 dollars, that’s a lot of green left in your pocket from the original pair costing a minimum of 300 dollars. The replicability is probably the greatest benefit here though. The fact that you could print multiple pairs of gloves for different weather conditions could be a huge advantage when racing. Some of the world’s best athletes lose important races because they weren’t prepared for the conditions, whether it was rain, humidity, or even snow. Now that we found a way to print the perfectly fitting glove, it is possible to make many, many varieties.

Our next step is to help everyone on the University of Illinois’ Wheelchair Racing team to get their own pair of printed gloves! We’ve started scanning more and more pairs and the team is getting excited. Eventually we would like to discover a process to create a pair of gloves from scratch- just by scanning an athlete’s hand. Over the summer we will continue to explore different methods so potentially people all across the world could buy a pair by simply sending us a file of their scanned hand.

We are very excited to continue pursuing this project, and hope to see it keep growing into the future! The uses for 3D scanning and printing are endless, and it is so thrilling to be a part of discovering why!

Arielle, Mark, Sebastian

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.

Digital Making Log 10

I never really thought of sewing as something that was ever really “for me.” It always seemed so imprecise, you just had to push along and hope your end product had some level of symmetry. Mine never did..

I went to Fablab in Urbana with my Digital Making class last Tuesday, and while there, I changed my mind on sewing. It’s our first in a 3 part lab session in the building. While there, I was sent to the far back room with laptops and automated sewing machines strewn across a few tables.

I immediately sat down, found a shape (a deer), added some colors and sewing patterns and bam, I had the equivalent of an stl for sewing. All I had to do was thread the string, load the file, and make sure nothing bad happened. All and all, I’d say it turned out pretty well.

WP_20150405_001Next step is to learn how to use circuits, which in the context of this, could lead to some glowing eyes for my dear.

Also, if anyone is interested, I’ve found a way to let people view my spaceship in a 3D way. Check it out below:

Reflection week 5 & 6

Learning Fusion 360 was a challenge and a half.

My class sat through a lesson last week where an Autodesk representative helped us with putting together a lamp, and while I did learn quite a lot at this, I got lost and ended up feeling a little discouraged. I went back through the lamp module online and cleared up what was confusing me at home that night, and from then on,  I feel great about Fusion.

I’ve learned to love the ‘edit form’ function, bending shapes in all sorts of different directions until some combination looks good. I’ve used this as I’ve started my semester long project: to make a fleet of spaceships, and a folder of spaceship parts (engines, canons, bridges, etc.). My goal is to create an interactive component for a science fiction series I’m working on through 3D printing.

hmThis ship isn’t quite done yet. The arms extending from either side could use some sort of structure on them. Additionally, I need to include a ‘spinning structure’ between the two main engines in the back. The saucers also need some details,

It’s important to me that my designs, and the tone behind my whole book for that matter, needs to be realistic. The spinning circle I intend to put back there will create a gravitational field for the area within it. It will allow people to walk with Earth-like conditions on the inner walls (a little disorienting to imagine, but check out the image below. It’s an artist rendering of a similar concept inside used on the show Babylon 5).

garden-nightIf I was a real engineer, I could design some gadgetry that would automatically turn the object, but for now I’ll settle for an axis of rotation I can build-in with the hole feature on tinkercad. From here on, I’m going to keep on designing ships that keep some of the same design features, and aggregating those consistent features into shapes that can be imported into tinkercad.