Tag Archives: UPS

Week 6 Reflection

Speaker 1 –Alan Amling:

This week we had the pleasure of having Alan Amling present to us about how 3D printing is making an impact in UPS where he currently works. He explained to us how UPS delivers some tools and hardware to many companies and locations that was becoming difficult to maintain as these items had to be kept in storage until needed. He mentioned, however, how the company is beginning to partake in the use of 3D Printing in order to make it more feasible to have these tools and hardware available when needed by just creating them upon request. This is very interesting to hear as it shows that not only are pieces going to be more affordable thru the use of 3D printing but how the company will be more efficient altogether by also maximizing the efficiency of their storage spaces.

Speaker 2 –Dot Silverman:

We then had another speaker, Dot Silverman, who came in and spoke to us  about biohacking and a lot of interesting forms of biohacking/physiology with 3D printers and “Biofabrication”. One thing that really stayed on my mind after this presentation was her section on how organs and bones are now beginning to be 3D printed that have substances that can actually promote the regrowth of bones and organs which can be an amazing substitute to the current use of metal plates for current health issues. It was really interesting to hear about the biological science side of 3D printed that is not as publicized.

After the speakers presented, we were able to pitch some potential ideas for our projects, and although there wasn’t as much peer critiques as I expected, it was still a very beneficial exercise to get our ideas out there and see how people reacted to them. It was even more helpful to hear other people’s ideas as they can give other groups a little more motivation to challenge ourselves and make a more complicated pitch to kind of match the level of complexity as another team’s pitch.

Additionally, we were given time in class to attempt to 3D print something that we would like and I took that time to create a design as well as 3D print a dog tag for my dog, Toby.  It was printed pretty quickly as it is a small object and is now hanging around my dog’s neck. It is so cool for me to be able to say that I designed his dog tag even if it is not the most complex. Here is a link to the design:






Week 6

Required Readings:
This week’s readings pertained to keeping an open mindset when evaluating a project. In 10 Ways To Evaluate A New Business Idea, the author gives ten common questions and answers to note when judging a business prospect. His questions related to the entrepreneur’s dedication to the project, feasibility of the business, and the ability to assess future losses. This article taught me how to properly view a prospective business venture by injecting a healthy dose of skepticism. By playing devil’s advocate to your ideas, you can understand a different point of view and truly come to an understanding as to why your idea will succeed. I think this article would be best used at the inception of the idea and before speaking with investors. In Creative Sparks, Goldenberg, Mazursky, and Solomon discuss the unique nature of human creativity. I, however, disagree with their initial parameters. I do not believe that creativity has ever been or will ever be truly human. Recent discoveries have shown Neanderthals to be the first artists, but plenty of species before them invented creative survival tactics. Just as biological evolution has been creative, the evolution artificial intelligence has been demonstrably creative. Many of our modern artificially intelligent bots can write stories, draw art, and even compose music.
Guest Lecturers:
This week we welcomed two guest speakers, Alan Amling and Dot Silverman. Alan works in Corporate Strategy for the United Postal Service. Alan explained to us the disruption in the supply chain caused by 3D printing. I had the great pleasure of asking Alan a question about intellectual property laws at UPS. Alan told me that my question was very common for their 3D printing customers. Many entrepreneurs worry that their patents will not be protected in the era of 3D printing. Alan assured me that he and UPS were doing everything in their power to protect the rights of the entrepreneurs. He noted, however, that the possibility of their intellectual property being lost in the event of a data breach is possible and could occur in the future.
Our second guest speaker was Dot Silverman, a graduate student here at U of I. When she was attending Pomona College, she was introduced to 3D printing and loved the possibilities at her fingertips. Dot told us about her time at Autodesk and Instructables and passed around some of her most interesting creations. One creation, a light bowl, was made from mycelium. Mycelium, a fungus, holds the record for largest organism on Earth: 10 square kilometers in Oregon. I was intrigued by Dot’s foldscopes but didn’t get a chance to use them. Ultimately, I was intimidated by Dot’s presentation because I have a fear of artificial intelligence progressing to sentience and taking over the world. I think Dot’s biohacking is helping the AI reach the singularity.

UPS, Biohacking, & Final Project


Our class was spoiled this week with having two very influential people speak to our class. Our first speaker, Alan Amling, taught us about the advancements that UPS is making in the realm of 3D printing. Our second speaker, Dot Silverman, taught us about her work in biohacking and the exciting projects she is working on. During the second half of the class, we were able to meet with our teams to begin narrowing down our ideas for the semester project.


What is UPS Doing?

Alan informed us that UPS is taking major strides in utilizing 3D printing. The company has facilities that are capable of 3D printing on both the small and large scale. Alan mentioned that UPS’s Louisville, KY facility center can print something out by midnight and then be anywhere in the United States the next day. Such a capability is revolutionary for any company. Currently, it is common for consumers to have to wait multiple days before receiving an item they purchase. However, as more and more 3D printing facilities pop up throughout the country, it will be much more likely that future consumers can order custom 3D-printed products and expect to receive them the same day (maybe even within hours).

One of my biggest takeaways from Alan is the importance of consistency. It’s incredible that 3D printers can create almost anything, but Alan noted that if a company wants to be successful, then they will need to be consistent. For instance, many current manufacturing processes are standardized and effective enough to produce identical objects on a large scale. Since 3D printing technology is still relatively new, there are still areas in which errors are made (thus reducing consistency). Moving forward, I will remain conscious of these potential limitations of 3D printers, and I hope to play a part in identifying ways in which consistency can more likely be achieved at the industrial scale.


What is Biohacking?

Dot shared a bunch of exciting projects with our class in the realm of biohacking, which essentially is combining biology with making/3D-printing. One of Dot’s projects that stood out to me was one in which she had previously worked on a team that created human organs-on-chips; these chips emulate organ-level functions. What was really neat was that Dot and her team were able to combine a bunch of different organs-on-chips and connect them to simulate an actual human body. They then were able to simulate cocaine entering the body and the implications that it had on each organ. These devices (pictured below) may be a great alternative to animal-testing (which remains to be controversial among many consumers). Ultimately, these creations are extremely exciting and could lead to incredible breakthroughs in the medical industry.


Progress on Final Project

My group and I have narrowed down our list of final project ideas. Two of the ideas that I feel most passionate about are the creation of assistive devices for individuals with disabilities and a Neopixel Traffic Map. The types of assistive devices we are looking into are for individuals with limited motor-movements. For instance, individuals with arthritis may no longer be able to hold a pen like they used to. Such a disability can be devastating to many people as they may find joy in sending handwritten notes to their friends and family. 3D printing objects are able to extend an individual’s motor capabilities and increase precision. It would be neat for my group to talk with individuals who have arthritis/limited motor capabilities to understand what challenges they face most often in order to develop an all-in-one tool to help them navigate through their days more easily (see an example in the picture below). Another assistive device that we may look into printing would be wheelchairs, and you can learn more about this idea’s potential through one of my previous blog posts by clicking here.


The second idea that I find interesting is a Neopixel Traffic map (example pictured below). Essentially, we would be creating a way for a user to know the traffic conditions of a certain area before leaving their home/work. This would be accomplished through inserting LED lights into a picture map and connecting them to an Arduino board that would relay real-time traffic conditions via a paired Google Maps API (Application Program Interface). This project would involve us learning to code, working with API’s, and utilizing circuit boards–and we know we are up to the test!


Thank you

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. As mentioned, my team is finalizing our idea for our semester project, and I can’t wait to share with you what we end up deciding to pursue!


-Scott Provenzano