Tri copters, laser engraving, and summer camp week 3

Hello everyone,

It was another busy week in the 3D Lab which is amazing for the summer session.  We are teaching staff and community members how to use the laser engraver for a variety of needs.  It is also a way to observe how it is used, aiding in developing usage and safety procedures.  The summer break provides time to write documentation, signs, and posters to make the lab easier to use.  Our first 3D printer (the Makerbot Replicator 2X) is in need of repair, so that is a project as well.  There is always something that needs improved or fixed in that lab; though these are perfect learning experiences for our students and lab staff.

A while ago, Chris purchased and assembled a tri-copter drone from a kit.  It is an amazing machine and flies well.  But with most model aircraft, it’s seen a fair share of crashes, too.  One of the propeller motor mounts broke during a particularly harsh crash.  Instead of ordering a replacement part, Chris designed a replacement in CAD software then 3D printed it.  Now he’s back in business with minimal downtime.


The laser engraver is frequently used throughout the week.  Not only by students, lab staff, and college personnel, but by the community as well.  Representatives from the Wayne County Public Library brought kid-friendly robots to be engraved with the library’s emblem.  We found that applying a laser on soft plastic was tricky.  The beam intensity had to be low enough not to melt the plastic, but strong enough to engrave an image.  They learned much and were pleased with the results.


Earlier this week, community members visited the 3D Lab to learn and use the engraver.  They were excited about the opportunity and tried their skills on a number of materials generously furnished by P. Graham Dunn.  They had an absolutely wonderful time and wish to come back for more time in the lab!  Together, we also learned how to use the rotary attachment that allows engraving onto cylindrical objects such as glasses, bottles, and more.  It was very easy to use.



Now into the fourth week of our Summer Camp for kids, the activity was assembling plane parts cut from the laser cutter.  Instructor Chris brought a couple of community members and myself to assist, which involved careful use of hot glue.  In addition to coloring the planes with markers, kids used the vinyl cutter to create decals for the wings and bodies.  They had a fun time and were proud of their planes finally taking shape.





Stay tuned next week as kids learn how to fly virtual radio controlled aircraft in a computer flight simulator!



See how Disney Research invented a 3D printer for electrically conductive fabric.  Imagine teddy bears that have a life of their own!


Want to design jewelry that is uniquely you?  This website creates custom bracelets which can be 3D printed:


Until next week,




Colorful airplanes, Cleveland Maker Faire, and incredible resin 3D printing

Hello everyone,

We are into our third week of the 3D Lab summer camp where kids from the Orrville Area Boys and Girls Club build radio controlled airplanes using laser cutters, 3D printers, and other technology.  Anthony is learning the ins and outs of the new resin 3D printer, while Kaleb is laser engraving items for the first time.  It’s amazing to see how busy the 3D Lab is, even in the middle of summer.

Last week, Chris (our camp instructor) showed the kids how to laser cut their planes from a single sheet of foam board.  He created an amazing setup where the laser cutter uses different intensities of laser beams during a single job.  One beam cuts through the board, another beam cuts half-way for folding parts, while a third simply scores the paper coating for marks.  The couple dozen plane parts were easily created as a single print job.  The kids were amazed!




After cutting the plane parts, the kids were taken to a nearby classroom to color their planes with washable markers.  The customization gives them a sense of ownership and pride in their designs, many of which are quite colorful.  The kids had a blast and are eager for the next camp session when they will assemble their planes.




Last weekend, the Cleveland Public Library hosted its annual Mini Maker Faire.  Over a hundred exhibitors displayed inventions and creative works to interest all age groups, from robots to egg-drop activities to trapeze swinging.  As usual, lots of 3D printers were on display.  There were plenty of activities for adults and kids alike, such as learning how to solder LED lights and biosensors.   Over 4,000 people attended!  In case you are interested, Akron hosts the next Mini Maker Faire on September 19, 2015.  Don’t miss it!

creative arts

Trapeze artist

electric motor robot and pneumatic cannon

Mobile robot that launches Nerf balls

free soldering lessons (thinkbox)

Learning to solder a bio sensor

huge soap bubbles

Huge bubbles

pendulum weight line art

Making art from a dumbbell and a pendulum

pick and place surface mount circuit boards

Machine that picks, places, and solders surface mount devices (SMD)

Now into our second week of using the new resin 3D printer, we are still amazed at the quality and detail of its objects.  Earlier in the semester, an Akron campus student used our 3D Lab for a project that requires custom bolts with threads.  Our existing 3D printer made barely functional parts, as seen here:


The student is still working on this project, so we offered to reproduce the parts with our resin printer.  Even with the printer’s “draft” mode at its lowest resolution, the results are still amazing:


One thing we discovered is that, depending on how the object is oriented in the software, some resin stays wet; it does not get fully cured by the laser beam.  Also, properly oriented parts are initially rubbery and slightly sticky.  We are currently planning to build a ultra-violet “light box” that will fast-cure resin, resulting in solid-hard objects in less time.  Stay tuned as we work more on this project.


We added a new section to the 3D Lab website that highlights our “big projects” completed each semester.

Click the graphic to browse through our project highlights, all downloadable as PDF to use as posters to inspire your own students!


Did you know that 3D printers can make objects out of metal?  The process is called “laser sintering”.  See how sintering makes these impossible faucet designs that still flow water:


See how a 3D printed platinum-alloy thruster reduces waste, production/material costs and offers a  adding a greater level of flexibility in terms of supply and demand construction.


Until next week,


Flying airplanes, OHECC, and the resin printer

Hello everyone,

It’s been an exciting week in the 3D Lab.  Even though the lab sees less use by students during the summer, our staff is making good use of the equipment.  Various employees are learning the laser engraver which involves studying a safety guide, taking a written safety & use test, and demonstrating proper use.  This technology is more approachable and easier to use than 3D printing; it allows people to become interested in making and inventing with basic computer skills.

Our summer camp is into its second week and is a big success.  Last week, kids from the Orrville Area Boys and Girls Club joined instructors Chris & Nathan and the Wayne County RC Club in outdoor flying practice.  This gets kids excited about their summer project, eventually building their own motorized airplanes using laser cutting, 3D printing, and vinyl cutting technologies.  Needless to say, the kids were thrilled!

Chris and the others connected two controllers in tandem to allow kids to fly the planes, though the adults could regain control if the plane needed flight correction.


Chris introducing camp


Nathan tandem-flying plane with attendee


Community member explaining flight physics


Chris repairing a damaged plane

Stay tuned as we report camp progress throughout the summer!

A couple of weeks ago, the Ohio Higher Education Computing Council (OHECC) held its annual conference in Oxford, Ohio at Miami University.  Numerous presentations were offered related to computing and technology in education.  Representing the University of Akron Wayne College, I presented the history and advice on creating a successful makerspace in an academic environment.  The presentation was well received, indicated by non-stop questions during and after the presentation.  I also gave-away free UAWC3 branded notepads which helped with motivation, too.  🙂



If you wish to see the slides for this presentation, please click here

Last but not least, the resin printer arrived today!  Thanks to the generous support of the Romich Foundation, we now have a 3D printer that is capable of high resolution, high quality parts.  It works by a laser shooting into liquid resin, solidifying each layer as the part is printed upside-down and slowly lifted out of the liquid.  It is amazing to watch.

Our first print was a success.  Below, note the part on the left printed on a typical 3D printer at 0.2mm per layer.  The part on the right is from the resin printer at 0.1mm.  The quality is amazing.  The printer can print even finer parts at 0.025mm as well as rubber based resin for flexible parts.  We are so thankful for this addition to the 3D Lab (and our students – notably Anthony – is excited about it, too).




Stay tuned as we discover more about this technology in the following weeks.



3D printing makes its way into large engineering efforts.  See how a 3D printed steel pedestrian bridge will soon span an Amsterdam canal:


G.E. is getting into the game with its first full 3D printed jet engine:


Until next week,




CO2 car wheels, laser engraving, and grinding plastic

Hello everyone,
Our kids summer camp is off to a good start.  Not only did the Orrville Area Boys & Girls Club fly radio controlled aircraft for the first time, members of the Wayne County R/C Flight Club joined us!  It was an exciting time for the kids with Chris and Nathan as camp instructors.  We’ll report more on this next week.

The big news in the 3D Lab is the laser engraver is now fully operational!  The Maintenance Department connected the exhaust fan (to remove smoke/fumes), the air compressor feed (to reduce flare-ups while cutting), and T.S.S. connected the engraver to our network.


We are busy creating instructions and procedures for its safe use.  We found a digital photo frame that is excellent for displaying important tips while operating the machine.


P. Graham Dunn in Dalton generously donated engravable materials that students can use to practice using the machine. We are very thankful for these pieces of wood, glass, and coated metals. Wooster Glass provided acrylic as well, useful as an overlay to test engraving a piece for perfect alignment.  It will be excited to see how students will create works from these materials throughout the summer and during fall semester.  Here is what has been created so far.




A couple of weeks ago, students from Hiland High School in Berlin visited the 3D Lab as a field trip.  Earlier in the semester, they designed wooden cars powered by carbon dioxide.  They created the designs using the Solidworks CAD program, then fabricated the car bodies with traditional woodworking tools.

At the Wayne College 3D Lab, they designed wheels in CAD that were printed on 3D printers.  The beauty was that they taught each other the steps necessary for the CAD design, then Anthony and I showed them how to run the printers.  To top it off, we taught them how to make custom car decals on the vinyl cutter, courtesy of the Orrville Area Boys & Girls Club.  They had a wonderful time in the lab, especially how they could design something on-screen then see it print into a real object minutes later.


Tom explains 3D printing


Portable 3D printer in-action


Anthony demonstrates vinyl cutting


Anthony explains 3D printing software


Students teach each other CAD


A successful wheel design

One of our summer projects is perfecting our technique of recycling used plastic filament.  To this end, the Romich Foundation provided a grinder that chips up failed 3D prints into particles 5mm or smaller.  These particles are then fed into the filament extruder which are melted into filament again.  The grinder is now permanently installed and ready to use.


The next step is extruding the exact filament thickness that is compatible with our printers.  Stay tuned as we pursue this project.


3D printers aren’t limited to small things.  Cars have been printed as well as entire houses!  See how one person 3D printed his own surfboard:


3D printers are notoriously slow (the above surfboard took 164 hours to print), but this new resin based technology may change that:


Until next week,