Cube tossing robots, mentoring, and laser-cut helicopters

Hello everyone,

If you frequent the A-Wing, you may notice robots scurring along the corridors.  Tomorrow is the big day for students to test their latest robots, notably those that will attempt to climb/descend stairs.  Their ideas and designs are amazing, which is necessary for this challenging task.  We’ll report the outcome of this event in next week’s blog.

The recent engineering project involved robots tossing 3D printed cubes a calculated distance.  The cubes were designed in CAD to have shapes buried inside to vary its weight.  The landing pad was coated in Play-Doh to indicate exactly where the cubes landed.

Team robots exhibited wildly different designs.  Some robots threw cubes like a trebuchet while others used the robot’s CPU itself to swing-throw the cube (like a see-saw).  The class found that varied cube weights made little impact on distance calculations.  This was because the LEGO Mindstorms’ motor power was not accurate nor reliable.  But it was still an incredible learning experience.


Preparing launch of a “catapult” style robot


Control trigger to launch a cube


Measuring the throw distance


Robot programming software

A makerspace ecosystem thrives from collaboration.  Students help each other with exploring project ideas, sharing suggestions for improvements, learning from each other’s mistakes, and so on.  Likewise, mentoring is a important part of a makerspace.  We are honored to know several community members who frequent the lab to work on projects and offer advice to our students.

One mentor is an OSU retiree who specializes in electrical engineering.  He makes it a point to regularly spend time in the 3D Lab to answer questions about electrical theory, how things work, how to accomplish project ideas, etc.


Chris explaining a radio controlled glider that he designed in Solidworks


Mike explaining sine wave theory to interested students

The 3D Lab is looking for teachers, staff, and community members to mentor our students as they create projects and pursue hobbies/interests/assignments.  If you are willing to help them, please send an email to

At the start of the fall season, students from Dalton Middle School worked with Wayne College to teach laser cutting.  Students produced helicopter designs on paper which were scanned into the computer, then laser-cut from balsa wood.  A real helicopter landed on the school’s front lawn as the event concluded.  It was a wonderful collaboration with the middle school and the students learned a new skill as a result!  We hope to collaborate on future projects together.

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Calling all makers!  Have an idea for a wood or metal working project but don’t have the right tools at home? Need access to CNC router technology or laser engraving? Are you interested in learning the skills of the workshop or how to operate these project-enhancing machines?  Schantz MakerSpace (in Orrville, Ohio) has everything you need!


Schantz is offering an Open House for their makerspace on Saturday, December 5th from 11am to 1pm.  Please see the below flyer for details.  Please promote this event to friends, family, schools, businesses, and organizations that may be interested!

MakerSpace Flier



See how New Balance’s 3D printed soles might put a spring in your step:


A 7-year-old girl received a new hand thanks to affordable 3D printing:


Until next week,



Baja vehicle battery boxes, knee braces, and the Barnes & Noble Maker Faire

The 3D Lab is involved with exciting projects over the past several months.  Engineering students can truly make their ideas and dreams possible with 3D printing, laser cutting, and other fabrication methods available in the lab.  I frequently discover something new and interesting being made.

We were honored to be visited by the University of Akron Zips Baja Team.  This student- led team is challenged to design and fabricate an off-roading vehicle powered by a 10hp Briggs and Stratton engine. Competition entails static events such as cost report and face-to-face design evaluation judged by professional mechanical engineers, along with dynamic events such as acceleration, maneuverability, suspension, and a four-hour endurance race where teams complete as many laps as possible.  Click here to see UA’s “Green Car” and here to watch a race video (Zips 2015 Midnight Mayhem).

The 3D Lab assisted the UA Baja Team by fabricating a battery box designed by their team.  We printed two boxes and lids on our large-format Taz 5 3D printers (donated by the Wayne County Community Foundation) using heat-resistant HIPS plastic.  The printers created impressively strong boxes:


After printing, we discovered that the boxes exhibited horizontal cracks.  Because the Taz 5 are “open face” printers, the lab air cooled the hot plastic layers too quickly, not allowing layers to fully fuse together.  Commercial 3D printers are often enclosed to retain/maintain a consistent heated temperature during printing.  We plan to build an inexpensive acrylic enclosure for one of these printers to allow printing of large objects without cracking.


Wayne College students in our engineering classes are churning out new inventions every couple of weeks.  These are class assignments to accomplish particular tasks such as tossing a weighted cube, pulling a weight, climbing stairs, etc.  Nathan has been hard at work designing a 3D printed knee brace.  His design involves numerous interlocking parts (some spring loaded).  Consumer based 3D printers sometimes do not produce dimensionally accurate parts, so physical shaving/sanding/cutting is needed to ensure things fit together:


When I arrived in my office a couple of mornings ago, I discovered the below finished brace on my desk.  After several weeks of hard work, Nathan completed the initial build, a proof-of-concept leg brace that can be used for demonstration.  It articulates quite well!  Don’t mind the Scotch tape.  🙂


A couple of weeks ago, Barnes & Noble stores across the country offered its first Mini Maker Faire.  This Friday-Sunday event featured different makers, inventors, and presenters on a two-hour revolving basis all weekend long.  There were hands on tables for kids of all ages to be involved in making, too.

The Wayne College 3D Lab demonstrated 3D printing and explained the lab’s services.  We brought the portable 3D printer and a many printed items to the event.  The public was (as usual) very excited about the technology and to know there is an open-to-the-public Makerspace at Wayne College.  Our table’s shift ran 3-1/2 hours and was constantly filled with people asking questions, adults and kid alike.  Note that the next major Maker Faire is in Cleveland next June, so mark your calendars.


If you would like to visit the 3D Lab at Wayne College or would like to tell someone who might be interested, we have a colorful and easy-to-read brochure that explains what we are all about.  Feel free to reproduce and pass-out the below brochure to your students, family, and friends!  Thanks, Carolyn, for the wonderful design.


Stay tuned next week as we reveal more inventions made by community members and our engineering students.



Local Motors’ LM3D Swim set to be the world’s first 3D-printed electric production car:


The world’s first 3D printed supercar is unveiled – 0-60 in 2.2 seconds!


Until next week,



Knee braces, earbud wire wraps, and Heartland Education Committee

Hello everyone,

Things are humming along smoothly in the 3D Lab this week.  All of our printers are (thankfully) in working order, providing high availability to students, community members, and engineering classes that need them.  Our first 3D printer (a Makerbot Replicator 2X provided by the Laura B. Frick Charitable Trust) was recently repaired at Makerbot headquarters.  After eight hours of labor and lots of worn, replaced parts, we have a working printer again.  Makerbot’s excellent service plan allows these repairs to be provided at no-cost, a worthwhile yearly investment.

We also have the portable 3D printer working better.  In the past, this printer (an Up! Plus 2 provided by the Romich Foundation) worked with Makerbot filament.  But this filament performs best at 230 degrees while the printer is locked in at 270 degrees.  The result is printed objects that have drooping features and rough surfaces.  After purchasing filament meant for Up! printer, it works perfectly again.  The summary is that not all filaments are created equal!  Each printer brand has specific requirements for filament.  The following was printed on the portable printer with “correct” filament:


Our engineering students are hard at work building new projects each week, from Dyson-like air moving devices, cube tossing robots (the cubes are 3D printed), and recently, a complex knee brace apparatus.  The knee brace uses around 8-10 pieces that snap together to form the brace.  Students are designing the braces from scratch in CAD software, an incredible feat.  Here is the CAD design of one of the brace parts:

brace cad

Our Taz 3D printers (provided by the Wayne County Community Foundation) are busy printing the braces.  These are being produced with HIPS plastic, having the heat resistance and strength of ABS plastic yet being 3D printing friendly as with PLA plastic.  We are pleased with these very reliable printers.

brace print

If you haven’t been to lately, you’ve been missing a lot!  It’s a place where hundreds of thousands of objects, tools, furniture parts, car parts, household items, toys, and more can be downloaded and printed, designed by people from all over the world.

One of our students discovered an excellent earbud wire wrap that folds for easy storage.  He printed the initial design on our Makerbot Replicator 5th Generation, an excellent printer that uses PLA plastic.  After printing, he intends to use the laser engraver to customize the wire wrap with his name.  3D printing is a good example of creating things that are custom or personal, things that can’t be found in stores.  Your imagination is all that’s needed to make personalized items for your lifestyle.


Last week, Wayne College hosted the Heartland Education Community Steering Committee meeting, comprised of volunteers representing many areas of the community including parents, educators, business leaders, social service representatives, city government, and clergy. The committee meets monthly to discuss Heartland activities and community issues.

Near the end of the meeting, 3D printing was the topic with explanation of the Wayne College 3D Printing Initiative, how it impacts students, communities, and businesses, and its future plans.  The program was well received with much interest and many questions.  We are proud to be invited to share our vision with the committee.

heartland point table

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The laser engraver in the 3D Lab is used for all sorts of interesting projects, providing fabrication methods that cannot be easily accomplished by 3D printing.  It is a popular, easy-to-use tool for everyone.  Students have been adventurous with engraving unusual objects such as iPhones, laptops, even leather!  One student recently engraved an image onto his Stratocaster guitar.  He overlaid the guitar with an acrylic sheet to verify image placement, then removed the sheet to perform the final engraving.  The result is beautiful!



Stay tuned next week as we report on the latest engineering students’ LEGO Mindstorms robotics project, a cube tossing event!



3D printing involves working with 3D objects.  See how this incredible automatically concerts 2D photos to 3D without CAD expertise:


See how artists “paint” light using 3D printers and twisted video walls:


Until next week,



Spotting scopes, big rockets, and the Barnes & Noble Maker Faire this weekend

Hello everyone,

With the 3D Lab soon entering its second year of existence, this polytechnic initiative and service to the public shows no sign of slowing down.  It is exciting to see designs become reality for our engineering students, community members inventing useful things that you just can’t find in stores, and mentors visiting the lab to provide teaching, advice, encouragement to our students.

Wayne College is grateful to the many donors who make this lab a success, notably the Romich Foundation, Laura B. Frick Charitable Trust – PNC Bank, Trustee, Wayne County Community Foundation, Orrville Area Boys and Girls Club, P. Graham Dunn, and others.  It is your support that makes the 3D Lab a success and provides a collaborative, free resource to our community.  Your continued support makes this service possible.  Please visit this link for a complete list of supporters.  Thank you!

Speaking of community members, I am always surprised and impressed with the ideas from our visitors.  Lately, Norm had the idea of adapting a smartphone to work as a spotting scope.  Normally, these are small, portable telescopes with added optics to present an erect image, optimized for the observation of terrestrial objects.  They are used for birdwatching and other naturalist activities, for hunting, verifying a marksman’s shots, surveillance, and for any other application that requires more magnification than a pair of binoculars.  Norm’s design looks like this, designed with the free, excellent AutoDesk 123D Design CAD software:

spotting scope adapter for iPod

After the on-screen design work was completed, he printed prototypes on our newest 3D printers, the Taz 5 models provided by the Susanna Congdon McIntyre Memorial Fund.


After a couple of design tweaks, the final version fit his phone perfectly!  We are interested to know how the spotting scope works out-in-the-wild, so Norm will let us know in the coming weeks.


While not directly related to the 3D Lab, the Case Western Rocket Team held a “launch day” event in Marshallville last Saturday.  They are like-minded undergraduates, Masters’ students, PhD students, and alumni that participate in high-power rocketry competitions and other aerospace-related events both in the greater Cleveland area as well as elsewhere in the nation.

On a blistery cold, windy day, over a dozen students launched their rockets in the middle of a recently harvested farmer’s field.  These are not rockets that you buy at Walmart; they use “J class” engines that send its payload 1,300-2,000 feet into the air!  The rockets were assembled from kits, some including accelerometers, gyroscopes, and other electronics to record in-flight information and to stop the rocket at a certain altitude when in competition.  It was a thrilling afternoon!

large rockets

Seriously large model rockets, requiring certification and approval from FAA to fly them


Preparing rockets for flight, mounting the engines


Properly packing a parachute


Launch time!

If you are interested in model rocketry, please visit the Wayne College 3D Lab in Spring 2016 where engineering students will design custom rockets using 3D printing and laser cutting.


bn makerfaire

Last but not least, Barnes & Noble is offering a country-wide event this weekend, a Mini Maker Faire!  If you’re a tech enthusiast, crafter, educator, tinkerer, hobbyist, engineer, science club member, author, artist, student, entrepreneur, or maker of any kind—please attend! The faire is being offered in all of their stores across the country, including Fairlawn, Ohio.  There, Wayne College 3D Lab will demonstrate 3D printing and careers in engineering, so please visit to learn more about our lab and its offerings.  Please visit the link above for the schedule of activities from Friday through Sunday.



3D printing continues to make strides in the biomedical field.  See how a student 3D prints life-changing baby bottles for preemies:


3D printers are perfect for customized projects, tailored just for you.  See how new 3D-printing tech is set to enable patient-specific medical devices:


Until next week,



Flashlights, instrument panels, and the Harvest Bash

Hello everyone,

With the semester finishing its ninth week of classes, the 3D Lab is as busy as ever.  Our two newest printers (Lulzbot Taz 5 printers provided by the Wayne County Community Foundation) have proven to be workhorses, running flawlessly practically all day, every day.  Each day brings new activities with student assignments, community projects, club involvement, mentoring, and more.

We are also thankful for our older printers (two Makerbot and one Affinia brand printers provided by the Romich Foundation and Laura B. Frick Charitable Trust).  Makerbot (based in Brooklyn, New York) is currently the most established consumer 3D printing company.  They offer service plans that benefit our printers.  Our first printer is currently at their repair shop and our other printer receives replaced extruder heads, as they fail, at no cost.  Having extra printers available during failures keeps our labs available to students.

Earlier this semester, engineering students were busy designing flashlight bodies and related parts using Solidworks, a high-end CAD program.  Now they are printing full-size versions of them.  The designs look like this:


While the designs look excellent on-screen, they pose a challenge for 3D printing.  Because printing is performed from the ground up, any overhangs need temporary posts under them for support.  These supports drastically increase print time and filament consumption.  You can see the overhang under the lip in the flashlight case, and how support material is printed to support it.


Students learn to change how something is designed so that it 3D prints as efficiently and quickly as possible.  This redesigning not only saves time and money, but allows things to be created that wasn’t possible with traditional manufacturing methods.  For example, see how this articulating robot can be 3D printed as one piece, without needing to be assembled.


Over the past few weeks, a community member wanted to design replacement instrument panel covers for fire trucks.  After talking through ideas with personnel and students in the 3D, we decided to laser cut the panels from clear acrylic.  These panels would be overlays for changeable paper labels.  They used free vector art software from LibreOffice which was imported into Corel DRAW in the 3D Lab.  The laser cutter cut the designs beautifully while the paper overlays were color printed with an inkjet printer.  The panel covers turned out beautifully!

We encourage visitors to learn the equipment and create things themselves; it encourages them to learn new skills.  The community member and his associate did all of the work, with our assistance to run the equipment.




The 3D Lab went on a road trip earlier this week, this time to support the Wayne County CIRCLE Coalition and STEPS program.  Serving Wooster, CIRCLE Coalition is the oldest substance abuse prevention coalition in Wayne County. It had its start from a group of concerned parents that worked together to prevent substance abuse.  We took the 3D printer to a Harvest Bash event held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Wooster.  Hundreds of children, parents, and young adults attended the event.  Our 3D printer was a bit hit, as usual.  Kids of all ages and adults alike were fascinated with the technology and excited to know about the availability of 3D Lab at Wayne College.  We hope that new visitors will come to the lab to learn a new skill, hobby, or even future career!  Thanks, Nonya, for inviting us!

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We are thankful to P. Graham Dunn for their donation of materials for the laser engraver.  Their generosity allows students and community members to learn laser engraving at no cost, makings gifts and useful things for themselves, friends, and family.  This beautiful clock was engraved by a staff member who never used an engraver before.  Now she is hooked!  In the background are game boards for a marble game that were laser engraver and CNC routed.

Last but not least, we are thankful to Arden and Clarice Shisler for their recent donation to the 3D Lab!  Consumables (notably plastic filament) is a continual expense.  Their donation allows the 3D Lab to remain open for community use at little or no cost.  Thank you!



See how 3D printing is being used to create soft body tissue:


See how 3D printed teeth can kill 99% of dental bacteria:


Until next week,