Semester Reflection

It seems like so long ago when I first stepped into the MakerLab that January evening. I remember that the first time, I had trouble finding the room in BIF, but it soon became a course that I always looked forward to on Monday afternoons. Sad to see it all go, but I’ve learned and experienced so much in my time here that it was well worth the time spent. After signing up for the course, I initially believed it would be exclusively about 3D printing, and a good way to keep up with my hobby. And while the course was indeed mainly centered on additive manufacturing, we explored many other related aspects. I got to experience other non-conventional uses of 3D printing, other making processes such as laser cutting, and get more intuitive with the art of the creative process in general. It’s been a fantastic semester, and I’m happy to recap it all here.

Intro to 3D Printing:

I’ve already a lot of experience with 3D printers ever since high school, which is the main reason that I took up this course. It had been a while since I had used one, but when we began to go over the basics of 3D printing everything started to flow back in. I was really excited to work with the Ultimakers as they were the highest quality printers that I have ever worked with aside from maybe Makerbots. For my first print in the lab, I printed a simple whistle.

Design Thinking:

I used multiple CAD programs for a variety of projects ever since I got into 3D printing. And before I took the Digital Making course I believed that all their was to it was creating a model in CAD and printing it. If it didn’t work, just try again. On the very surface, it really is that simple; but if you dig deeper there is much more behind it. Every idea; every design; every creation is born out of necessity. They each have their own purpose decided by the user. I used to believe that everything I did in my creative process just came out of thin air, but in reality I was following a similar pattern. Design thinking is the basis of all problem-solving.

The Design Thinking Process

Fusion 360:

Fusion was the most complex software I had ever dealt with, and I am very glad I was introduced to it in the course. For the most part, all my designs were created with simpler softwares such as TinkerCAD and 123D design. Fusion 360 was quite the step up. It’s a complex yet vivid software the contains a plethora of tools and allows the user to operate and edit their model with much greater freedom than most other CAD programs. While difficult to get used to, in the proper hands it can create anything.

Breakdown of a mechanical pencil

The Fab Lab:

Our adventures at the CU community Fab Lab might just be my favorite part of the course. I was amazed that such a wonderful and innovative place was practically hidden on campus. Unless you had prior knowledge you’d probably never realize it was here. It was satisfying to know that there was a place on campus where makers could go to explore and innovate. It’s a place where ides flourish and become reality. Those 3 weeks we spent there, learning the different making processes (Programming, Electronics, and Laser Cutting) and being able to create our own special projects was incredibly fun and very memorable. I’m sure to remember the Fab Lab for the rest of my time here at UIUC and if I ever need anything for a special endeavor, I know where to look.

Circuits

Laser Cutting

Arduino IDE

The result of all three

Art Annex 2

1301 South Goodwin Avenue

Urbana, IL 61801

3D Scanning:

Being able to scan a 3D model of one’s own bust for printing is about as old as 3D printing itself. While I didn’t actually partake in it, it was a good experience to actually see it first hand. It’s a shame we couldn’t incorporate something like it into our project, or that the desktop 3D scanner didn’t seem to work well. But they are both still quite fascinating and amusing.

Scanning

Takeaways:

Taking this course was really a delight for me. I became very passionate about 3D printing a few years ago, and was overjoyed when I found out there was a class available involving it. I got to¬†explore my hobby again, and discuss it with other individuals who were also interested. I was able to improve upon my existing skills, as well as gain some new ones. To wrap it all up, I got the opportunity to use what I’ve gained and know to create one big final project to share with the rest of the class. Being able to see what everyone else had created and sharing our ideas was a pleasure. It’s been a fun semester, and I’m glad I was able to experience this my freshman year, which means I’ll have plenty of time to be in the MakerLab. I’d like to extend my thanks to Vishal for teaching the class, the MakerLab gurus for being so helpful, all the guest speakers, the folks at the Fab Lab, and my fellow makers who ventured this course with me. It’s been a blast!

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