The first day of the fall semester begins with a bang in the 3D Lab. Students already have all three printers running simultaneously, visitors are given tours of the room, and the R/C airplane club is slowly taking over every inch of free space with their designs. We are interested to see what engineering students and community members will create this semester. It’s always exciting to see non-engineers become interested in the technology as well; they are becoming makers!
A few weeks ago, a community member well versed in CAD design used our first 3D printer (affectionally known as “P-Ter” and donated by the Laura B. Frick Charitable Trust) to create a replacement part for his refrigerator. The freezer door shelf bracket had broken off, sometimes causing jars to crash to the floor when the door opened.
Mark describes the situation better than I can:
“I looked up on the Internet for a replacement part and the part was no longer available. Attempting to try to use the shelf without the cross bracket resulted in many avalanches of freezer items even with a warning sign to “Open Slowly”. So being able to 3D print a new shelf bracket has saved our precious jelly from falling off the shelf and hitting the floor. Thanks again for helping me print it out.”
Below you will see the original shelf bracket brace (beige) and the 3D printed brace (black) that he designed. The replacement bracket now attaches perfectly and no more wasted jelly. Way to go, Mark!
The vinyl cutter (provided by the Orrville Area Boys and Girls Club) receives regular use by all sorts of people. It is a wonderful entry-level tool for using the 3D Lab; one can draw or trace designs in 2D which are instantly cut into vinyl.
Earlier last semester, Morgan reproduced the 3D Lab’s UAWC3 logo with the vinyl cutter’s vector software. She used the software’s “trace” command to draw outlines around the logo’s lettering, as the logo was in a bitmap format (not suitable for vinyl cutting). She then added a byline using the vector software’s text tool. The result is beautiful, a multi-color vinyl design which now hangs above our door.
A couple of weeks ago, the Wayne County Public Library invited Wayne College to offer an introductory session on 3D printing. Well over 50 people of all ages attended that evening. We talked about how 3D printing works, how it affects our everyday lives, promoted careers in engineering, and how the future may be shaped by this technology. As usual, the presentation was a big hit among kids and adults alike with lots of questions.
Barry Romich was also present to introduce the possibility of a makerspace to be created in downtown Wooster. If you are interested in this endeavor, please reply to this e-mail to request more information.
Barry talking about a possible Wooster makerspace
A wonderful turn-out
Did you know that 3D printers can be used to make metal jewelry using casting? See how our resin printer can do just that:
3D printers aren’t limited to solid materials. See how this fabric 3D printer is the first of its kind:
Stay tuned as the semester’s activities start to unfold in the 3D Lab next week!
With the start of Fall semester next week, the busy 3D Lab is about to become a lot busier. Engineering classes building LEGO Mindstorms controlled robots will use the lab to augment their designs, perform material stress tests, and more. Our multi-material 3D printers have yet to arrive; students will put them to good use later this semester.
New students visited the 3D lab over the summer to use the equipment and 3D print their CAD designs. Various members of the community work on projects here as well. One of these people is an avid bird watcher. He uses AutoDesk’s free 123D Make program to design replacement lens covers and other apparatuses for his cameras and binoculars. Another community member caught wind of this, so now they are working together to repair each other’s equipment. It’s a wonderful form of community.
CAD design lessons
3D printed lens cap is the gray one
The 3D Lab made another road trip, this time to the Holmes County Fair! We setup a table with the portable 3D printer, had plenty of objects to pass around, and even made keychains with the laser engraver to promote the Holmes Campus. The 3D printer was a big hit; I talked continuously for three hours to fairgoers of all ages. We 3D printed numerous objects during the fair; kids were especially fascinated by this.
John Lorson, coordinator of the Holmes Campus, was sadly bitten by the 3D bug. Not only did he learn how to operate the portable printer, but he ran the 3D table for the rest of the week! The said the printer drew seven times more people to the Wayne College table than in past years at the fair. What a good way to promote the college and spark interest in engineering and invention at the same time!
Back at the home front, our newest 3D printer (the Makerbot Replicator 5th Generation, courtesy of the Romich Foundation) was having problems. A ribbon cable connects to the extruder print head to control the heat, monitor temperature, etc. A design flaw in the printer’s enclosure was mangling the cable, catching on a plastic tab in the back of the printer. Thanks to the service plan that we subscribed to, the company quickly sent a replacement cable, free of charge. And now the printer is back in business!
Last but not least, one of our staff members learned how to use the laser engraver to create notepads for vacation bible school (courtesy of P. Graham Dunn). Engravers are perfect for mass producing items because multiple items can be placed on the engraving bed. In the photo below, Chad used clear acrylic (courtesy of Wooster Glass Company and Jay’s Glass) to test-engrave a notepad to check for artwork placement without wasting notepads in the process. He’s an expert engraver now, a new skill that he developed from the 3D Lab!
The 3D printed OctaWorm robot can go where no other robot can (designed by UA student Juan Cristobal Zagal):
See how this NASA robot will build big composite rocket parts:
Until next week,
With two weeks of summer remaining before the start of fall classes, we are cleaning and preparing the 3D Lab for another busy semester. The pending arrival of two additional 3D printers (courtesy of the Wayne County Community Foundation) will help with the print load as our existing three printers were frequently running simultaneously last semester.
3D printers can and do cause problems on a regular basis, requiring maintenance and repair. Our first 3D printer, the Makerbot Replicator 2X, developed jammed filament in its extruder head, requiring replacement. The company shipped two extruder blocks and a replacement fan; Anthony accepted the challenge to install them. Even fixing 3D printers is a learning experience for budding engineers.
A few weeks ago, Sarah Jane and I visited Wooster High School to deliver two presentations on 3D printing and careers in engineering. Well over 60 kids from the Wooster Boys and Girls Club were excited to see how 3D printers work. With the portable printer temporarily out of filament, we brought the oversized Makerbot Replicator Fifth Generation. At this age group, PowerPoint slides were thrown out the window, relying on question and answer sessions instead. And there were many questions! Many thanks to Caitlin Petit for inviting us.
Back at the home front, we are still learning the ins and outs of the high resolution resin 3D printer. It is a costly printer to operate (about 6-8 times more cost in consumables than plastic 3D printers), so we look to cut costs wherever we can.
We go through a lot of isopropyl alcohol to rinse parts after being freshly printed. The alcohol becomes dirty with liquid resin. Instead of disposing the used alcohol, Anthony had an ingenuous idea; place the entire alcohol tank in the ultra violet light box! The light eventually cured the suspended resin, causing it to congeal and fall to the tank’s floor. This gelatinous resin is scooped out, leaving somewhat clear and usable alcohol behind. Good job, Anthony!
Resin-infused isopropyl alcohol
Tank exposed to ultraviolet light
Mostly clean alcohol again!
Community members and students use the lab’s laser engraver on an almost daily basis. See how one person made a beautiful plaque, courtesy of P. Graham Dunn for the material. With the image being engraved, the laser can either draw the image with many dots from top to bottom (like a laser printer) or draw low powered lines and curves (like a plotter). The latter method is much faster to engrave. It is wonderful to see creative works made with this machine.
See how a 3D printed stethoscope costing 30 cents outperforms its traditional $200 counterpart:
3D printers are making inroads into organic printing, namely human tissue. See how printers produce small tumors that can be tested with various cancer treatments (thanks for the link, Jane!):
Until next week,
We have a lot to do in the 3D Lab to prepare for the Fall semester of activities and classes. In the works are designing a brochure and business cards to promote the makerspace when interacting with the public, creating maintenance schedules for the various equipment, and the installation of two new forthcoming 3D printers funded by the Wayne County Community Foundation. Anthony, our summer student assistant, has been wonderful by helping community members and working on lab projects.
One of our community members is an avid photographer, designing improvements to his cameras and other optical devices in CAD, then reproducing parts on our high resolution resin 3D printer. His latest design is replacement lens cap. The original is made from rubber, though the strap was damaged. The replacement cap was printed using special “flexible resin”. While the printer produced an accurate part, the resin was not flexible enough for repeated bendings. We hope to try the lens cap on our new “Taz 5” 3D printers that support truly flexible rubber later this summer. It was an excellent first attempt, though!
Removing the lens cover from the printer build plate
A nearly perfect replica using AutoDesk’s 123D Make program (free CAD software)
Yesterday, community members from the Orrville Area Boys and Girls Club arrived to learn vector art software and use the laser engraver. The goal involved engraving inexpensive drinking glasses provided by their club, courtesy of Kevin Platz. We taught the youngsters how to download images then manipulate them with Corel DRAW, create text and add special effects, then send these designs to the engraver. The Romich Foundation furnished a special rotary device that slowly spins the glass while engraving, allowing designs to be engraved around the entire glass. The kids had a lot of fun and created something truly unique in the process!
Glass sitting on rotary attachment, being engraved
Removing glass with both hands. 🙂
Everyone proud of their accomplishments
Speaking of the resin printer, we are experimenting with various methods of using it. There are limited styles of resin fluid available, namely black, white, gray, and clear. With the printer’s high level of detail, a community member wants to create eyeglass frames for his daughter using clear resin mixed with a third-party colored pigment. We are certainly willing to give it a try. The below glasses were printed with a traditional 3D printer; we are excited to see how the resin printer will handle the job. Stay tuned!
We are very thankful that P. Graham Dunn furnishes materials for students and community members while learning to use the laser engraver. The material has been a source of much excitement and creativity, a good way to get people interested in the 3D Lab and subsequently other equipment therein. One community member created this beautiful plaque, her first experience with the engraver. Thanks, P. Graham!
Stay tuned for more activities in the 3D Lab next week!
3D printers are now making pills! See how they can be made cheaper, on-demand, and exactly with the correct dosage.
Can’t tell if that galllon of milk is near spoiling? 3D printed bottle caps can tell you ahead of time:
Until next week,