Introduction to Intricate Designing

For this week and the upcoming two weeks our class has the privilege of going to the University of Illinois FabLab to learn new tools for our upcoming final project. The first time I had heard about the FabLab was during Jeff Ginger’s presentation during class. I was very intrigued by the different things I could create at the FabLab and was incredibly excited to be able to go and learn from experienced users. When entering the FabLab we were given a tour of the whole facility then split into three groups to begin learning the different tools available. I was assigned to the group led by Holly Brown (Lab Manager and Instructor) and Clinton Gandy (Lab Assistant) to work on creation, design and the process of building boxes through a graphics software called Inkscape.

We had been told that Inkscape would be similar to Adobe Illustrator and I had played around with the application here and there. Throughout class we were given a tutorial box to create, a tutorial of Inkscape and a chance to design our own box that would be laser printed on the wood that was provided by the FabLab. We started by learning the various tools that could be used on Inkscape especially ones that would be useful in designing our boxes, such as grouping and creating holes. Here is a link that gives users an idea of the different features that Inkscape provides: We then imported the box design onto Inkscape and began adding holes onto one side of the piece that will be used for the lights to shine through in the next two sessions. On another side of the box was a rectangular hole for the battery to come out that would be used for the lights to shine. On the other sides we were able to add our own designs but specifically we were told to use silhouettes of images that could be found through Google. I had chosen silhouettes that I related to personally because I figured it would be more special. Inkscape is a nice introduction graphics software to understand and it was easy to maneuver things around at ease. I really liked how the interface was so simple yet provided an opportunity to draw seamlessly. It was great that imported and exported files could be done through various file formats and overall was comprehensible. I believe that any user is able to use Inkscape to design practically anything. Furthermore, the software allows users to start from the beginning stages to the final stages of a professional design format, which we had created towards the end of class.

After finishing up the box design we had sent them to the laser printer, however, the laser printer took awhile to complete each design and I was not able to watch my design be printed by the end of class. However, when I was watching other student’s designs I was really intrigued with how the lasers had hit the wood to print. The designs were incredibly intricate and we were all amazed with how it was able to print so easily, though it was interesting to see how the laser printer had to be watched carefully at all times in the chance of a fire occurring.

Here is a panoramic of the entrance of the FabLab.

This is the a smaller version of the box we would be creating for practice and putting the box together.

This is the completed tutorial box.

This was an example of what the creation will look like once all the FabLab classes are complete.

Here is the design I had put on one side of the box.

As I stated earlier I was unable to have my design go through the laser printer, but here is how another student, Ian’s design had turned out.

3 thoughts on “Introduction to Intricate Designing

  1. Hi Charlene,
    I love the pictures that you have posted. It really added to the visual element of the process that you did in class. I totally agree that it was a very different experience being surrounded by machines and people who are such professional makers. I was in the Arduino group and just by reading your post I have gotten so enthusiastic about doing this, hopefully in the next class.

  2. Hi Charlene,

    Great post! I really enjoy using Adobe Illustrator, and am excited to try on Inkscape this coming week. I am curious to what possibilities we can use with the laser that you showed on the box. Definetly some possibilities that could benefit our project solution. If anything at all it could go a long way in branding our potential product solution.

  3. Hey Charlene,
    Great post this week. I agree that it was exciting to be in the Fab Lab after hearing about it from Jeff a couple of weeks ago. I was working in the electronics section this week so I was really interested in reading your post about working with the laser and making the box. Did you find anything difficult while designing and making the box? When you get to electronics, you may find soldering to be a bit difficult but I’m sure you’ll get the hang out it. While you were working on the box did you get any ideas for the semester project?

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