An Exercise on Materializing Ideas

The Power of Design Software

Jeff Smith’s presentation on the features of Fusion 360 as a tool to not only visualize products but also as an avenue to create and design new ideas was truly inspiring. As someone who completed all of his college major in industrial design without the use of a computer to now being an expert on all Autodesk products is a testament to the both the continuous growth of the industry as well as the ability to quickly adapt to the revolutionary technology. Besides enlightening us with a rapid and intense beginner’s tutorial on Fusion 360, one of the most innovative features of the software is its “Sculpt” feature, which allows the user to create incredibly complex objects in mere seconds that would otherwise take countless hours using legacy technology. I also enjoyed his spotlight of Autodesk’s revolutionary state-of-the-art initiative in called Pier 9. Located in San Francisco, this workplace is dedicated to exploring and connecting ideas from software to the real physical world, in order to best test, build, and use. In the picture below, Jeff utilized the sculpt feature to create an incredibly complicated yet visually appealing model, which he then rendered and displayed with a full 360-degree panoramic background.


Before class, as a result of watching the Fusion 360 “Absolute Beginners” series of YouTube videos, I was able to make this model.

After class, I was playing around with the software and attempted to create a model of an everyday object that I use quite frequently. Although I struggled mightily at first, take a look at the screenshot below and see if you can determine what object I was attempting to make.

It’s a water bottle! The link to the Fusion 360 file can be found here. The msot difficult part of the design was instructing the software as to what parts were components, bodies, joinings, cuttings, etc. Albeit at first it was frustrating, I gradually began to understand how the software functions.


The second presentation we received was from Dot Silverman, an extremely motivated and ambitious PhD student from the University of Illinois. She introduced us to leading edge enterprises that intertwined the design aspect of 3D printing and additive manufacturing with solving biological and natural problems. She described a variety of projects, however, there were two that particularly stood out. The first was the use of fungi to create bricks for construction. After inserting flour, water, and the fungi into a certain mold, within two weeks the mixture turns into a compound that, once baked, is especially conducive to use as bricks. The other initiative I found to be ground-breaking was the development of soft robotics. As a growing field, soft robotics offers designers and doctors alike a common ground to collaborate and create solutions to some of humanity’s most complex health problems. The article described below gives some insight into this topic.

Food for Thought

This article from WIRED magazine details new developments by researchers who claim to have developed a “robotic sleeve”, which will supposedly assume the functions of pumping blood in the event the patient enters cardiac arrest. Created using silicone as the primary material, this innovative product is a prime example of the literal power soft robotics can have on the healthcare industry. The soft feel of the silicone is less irritating than metal or other materials, which adds to its effectiveness.


Further information on Pier 9: click here

Simon, Matt. “The Robots Are Coming for Your Heart.” Wired. Conde Nast, 31 Jan. 2017. Web. 15 Feb. 2017. <>.