3D Printing Ideating

This week, we shift from learning about the basic operation of 3D printing machines, familiarizing ourselves with use Autodesk Fusion 360, and looking at potential 3D printing ideas, to crafting ideas of our own for our semester project. During this session, we split off into our designated groups to brainstorm ideas. For my group, we started from defining a target audience–high school/college students, and to generating ideas on the problems they face from broader terms like stress and time management to more specific parts that make up the bigger issue such as distraction from social media and peers. Later on, we brainstorm potential solutions to the problem. Along the way, we jotted down our ideas on a blank sheet of paper to keep track of our progress.
17036058_1519060224778962_1809638719_oOur whole ideating process was pretty effective, as in one hand it contains a structured framework but on the other hand, it is also free of stringent restrictions and criticism, as described as the optimal path of generating ideas in the article “Creative Sparks.” This article brings up an important point that sometimes we become too involved in the notion that creative ideas must come from randomness. However, that’s not the case, as total freedom could cause inefficiency and incompleteness.

A crucial part of the whole process was peer evaluation by a member from another group. This fresh perspective prevents us from falling into the trap of groupthink, as described in the article “Get a New Perspective to Prevent Workplace Groupthink” as a dangerous zone. Something I find interesting in the article is that during the hiring process of the company The Motley Fool (also unsurprisingly the author of this article) they would bring in someone from a department different from the one the candidate is applying for to see if that person is a unique contribution to the group and not just one that fits right in. On a related note, an article from Forbes titled “Brainstorming Doesn’t Work — Do This Instead” also brought up the idea of social loafing and groupthink. Brainstorming tends to be less effective when people either try to agree with each other and not speaking up or being too tolerant of total nonsensical ideas. This article promotes a better way to cultivate ideas in which people engage in healthy debates as well as reducing the amount of simply blurting out ideas. This is definitely something out group can look into moving forward.

An important takeaway from this session was that in order to come up with a solid idea, we must first think of problems we observe and then build solutions to solve those problems. More often than not, we have the tendency to quickly jump to a solution rather than thinking through the whole process. As the article “10 Ways to Evaluate a New Business Idea” states, people spend money on things that can fulfill their needs. If a business idea doesn’t address a solution to a specific issue, or in other words, help solve a certain problem, it is hardly sustainable and is likely bound to fail. Something else we noticed during our group discussion was that a lot of the solutions we thought of for our problem already exists in some shape or form. That exactly resonates with another point the article makes in that there’s really nothing new under the sun. New business ideas mostly form as a combination of existing products.

During the second half of class, we had guest speaker, Mike Bohlmann share his experience as a Maker. Currently the Assistant Dean of Technology in the College of Media at UIUC, he started out as an independent Maker before discovering Makerspace Urbana where he was able to connect with many others who enjoy creating in areas of art, humanities, and science. An inspiring project Bohlmann shared with us was a smart map for a board game Star Wars Armada Corellian Sector (currently on display at Titan Games in Champaign, IL). With the use of 3D printing and arduino, he was able to transform the traditional game using stickers that weren’t reusable into programmable LED neo pixels. Bohlmann convinced us that making can be a great hobby outside of work and family obligations.

Finally, this is a 3D print of our team logo. 🙂17015195_1519060218112296_819772687_o

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