Fusion 360 & Making


Learning how to use Fusion 360 was an incredible learning experience. From the very first tutorial, I quickly realized the amount of power this software had. Fusion 360 was truly a complete package for anyone who wanted to make. As you can see from the above picture the workshop I was involved in really let us go absolutely wild in terms of creativity. That ability to make whatever strikes mind is truly quite powerful in my opinion. Fusion 360 made it easy to start sketching, extruding, and finally rendering. It was so easy to create whatever the mind wanted.

Through the workshop and YouTube tutorials lessons in design and engineering were also passed through to us. Rules regarding shapes, grids, and how space interacts with physical objects. It was all quite a lot to come at us at once but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was especially cool to see what exactly was possible with this software. Particularly, when there was a demonstration on how easily Fusion 360 could create natural amorphous shapes with the click of a single button.

I think throughout the workshop I realized just how much I took for granted simple engineering feats. Taking a simple water bottle the shape itself is complex enough but it actually has several parts working together to provide us with a coherent product experience. Without great designers with software like Fusion 360 we wouldn’t have most of the products in our world today. In fact, I tried my hand at making one such water bottle (cap) and realized just how difficult it is to make an object from real life (not even the whole thing either!).


To also make these objects to scale, ready for manufacturing, and testable/buildable in the real world must be quite the task for engineers and designers alike. I was astonished at the amount of focus, energy, and time it took to just create a simple mockup of a water bottle cap. Truly, though CAD software like Fusion 360 allows anyone to make what their minds think of. I think that alone is revolutionary.

To boot I think AutoDesk is doing extraordinary work in the student space. Allowing their core software to be released to the student public at no cost is amazing. Giving any student the ability to make, create, and model. AutoDesk is doing a great job of giving problem solvers the tools they need to make physical solutions to real life problems.

Design Thinking – Filling The Academic Void of Creativity

This past week I was lucky enough to participate in a design thinking workshop. I had exposed to the methodologies before of empathizing, defining, exploring, and iterative prototyping but it was nonetheless still an engaging, fun activity.

Especially the fun part. Personally, that’s where I think design thinking really succeeds and shines. Aside from being a great process and tool for physical products design thinking really adds a much-needed jolt from routine processes in other fields. Take business for example, too often we’re buried underneath financial reports, cost analysis, and worn-down frameworks to even consider the end user. Design thinking, however, pushes us to step away from the sheets and just write down what we’re thinking regardless of the cost.

Reading the article by HBS about design thinking, it covers the famous design firm IDEO. I think the article it puts it well about how with design thinking IDEO is able to really get into the customer mindset and although it doesn’t mention this explicitly, design thinking also gives way to acceptable failures.

There’s a very famous example of this from IDEO where the firm had a tight deadline to reinvent the shopping cart. Within a short amount of time the firm came up with a novel but effective way to solve the issue – but if you look around shopping carts are still the same around in the US. The funny thing is, though, IDEO still comes out on top. IDEO’s employees pushed themselves to solve a problem that most of us would never think of and came up with a great idea. It just didn’t take off like sliced bread and that’s ok.

Too often, I think business majors are scared to break out of the mold and be bold. To try and risk failure. Perhaps it is because we are so cost minded, maybe it’s our economic base for classes that teach us everything has a price and there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Whatever it is I do believe that design thinking brings back the creativity in problem-solving for many disciplines, not just business, and pushes us to be ok with failures because without failures no organization or person would ever grow.

In conclusion, I push those who want to learn more to start exploring what’s out there. Non University students have resources like the d.School’s online catalog of how to use their methods. For those at a school like Illinois, plenty of classes exist and even Lynda has great content for learning everything from design thinking to more specific subsets like UX/UI design. I do truly believe design thinking pushes the boundaries of other disciplines to be more creative, more bold, and more willing to learn from failures.


Week #2: Reflection and Our First Product!

For the second week of class we had Jeff Ginger, head of the CU Fab Lab, come into to give a talk. Jeff’s talk was impassioned, interesting, and a flood of useful information. The CU Fab Lab was described as a workshop to make anything you can imagine. All kinds of tools are available from 3D printers to glass engravers; the Fab Lab will certainly be a useful resource in the future for our project. Especially, the electronics area where they have a variety of hardware and software to play around with.

The CU Fab Lab is also part of a larger international network of making stations across the globe. Mentioned in our reading, these Fab Labs often take a bottom-up approach by being placed in universities or lower income areas to bring innovation to the region. The hope is that most of these Fab Labs will tap into the natural human instinct to make and thus invoke a movement of innovative creating by the local population.

One idea that was sparked by Jeff’s talk and the readings was the idea of creating a low-cost drone that could hold a camera. The readings taught us that the maker movement can increase accessibility in certain industries like our last talker’s case with wheelchair racing and making cheaper more efficient gloves. Perhaps, we could use Arduinos for a drone controller and build the frame with 3D printed parts to create a low-cost camera drone for budding kid filmmakers.

After Jeff’s talk we proceeded to make our first product. Mine was a toothbrush holder, a simple but useful first 3D print in our class. We learned how to ‘slice’ objects in Cura, export them to SD cards, and print them out on printers. Additionally, we were taught about the various online resources we have available to us. Various sites like Thingiverse exist as giant product databases full of free 3D print models for use. The making community for 3D printing is certainly huge but also very open at the same time.

3D Printed Toothbrush holder!

Below are four examples of great everyday products one could find on Thingiverse:

Cable-Holder: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:70549

The cable-holder would be extremely useful for my at home cable management. Definitely creating less clutter in my room. The one thing I would personally change is the ability to hold more than one cable on one piece or perhaps allowing the ‘linking’ of each cable holder by changing the shape to something more box like with rigid edges.

Earbud Holder: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:36321

The earbud holder would be really great for my backpack as I often find my cables getting entangled in each other. The one thing I would change is probably removing the case and allowing the end to hang out freely. I could see this getting really frustrating to put in when in a hurry.

Toothpaste Tube Squeezer: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1147252

A great invention for the bathroom! No longer will I have any leftover toothpaste at the bottom. Only thing I might change is adding a handle or such to help with pushing the tooth paste out.

Headphone Stand: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2050885

Just generally great for organizing my desk at home. Only thing I would add is maybe a place for wire management as not all headphones are wireless blue tooth. So a cylinder sticking up could do that or something similar.