CNC progress, Wayne County Schools Career Center makerspace, and an ailing printer

Hello everyone,

With Finals Week approaching in two weeks, students work on final projects for various classes.  Engineering students in particular are finalizing their model rocket designs, some of them made on 3D printers.  The official Launch Day is Wednesday, April 27th at 9:15 a.m. (barring inclement weather).  If you have time in your schedule, stop-by our soccer field that morning to see rockets launch, made from wood to metal to plastic!

Ben makes amazing progress with his home-built CNC machine.  The entire project comprises of donated and purchased parts, totaling a mere $200.  A few weeks ago, he invited a small group to his garage to demonstrate the machine.  The CNC uses off-the-shelf components such as a router, drawer sliders, angle iron, etc.  An Arduino microcontroller drives three heavy-duty stepper motors to move the router and various parts were 3D printed, too.  It works beautifully!

CNC demonstration


Ben’s latest accomplishment involves using a “v-bit” (donated by the Romich Foundation) instead of a regular routing bit to cut prism-like designs into wood.  The trick is finding free software to vary the bit’s cutting depth.  Since his sister’s rabbit was having its third birthday, Ben created a plaque to celebrate it, using donated wood from P. Graham Dunn:



Over the past couple of weeks, I had the pleasure of visiting the Wayne County Schools Career Center in Smithville, Ohio, a member of the Route 30 Corridor Makerspace Ecosystem.  At WCSCC, students learn to fabricate using high-end equipment such as industrial milling machines, metalwork, electronics, power line technology, house building, and so much more.  If you haven’t been to the Career Center in a while, make it a point to take a tour!


Machining shop


House building shop


Metalwork and welding shop

The Ecosystem group tours and networks area businesses, schools, and organizations, including Stark Tech, Wayne County Schools Career Center, The University of Akron Wayne College, and many others.  The goal of this effort is to support each other in this era of digital fabrication which revolutionizes how things are made and who can make them.  If you or your organization wishes to be involved with this initiative, please contact Victor Schantz at


Back at the college, one of our tried-and-true Taz 3D printers finally malfunctioned after a ton of heavy use.  The printer would not allow filament to travel into the printer head, a classic “jammed extruder” problem.  The following top-down photo shows white filament stuck inside the extruder assembly:

clogged extruder

When filament is heated too long without movement, it can carbonize inside the nozzle, permanently clogging it.  But with our problem, a broken piece of filament jammed in the heat chamber -before- reaching the nozzle.  Furthermore, we were using HIPS plastic which does not carbonize as quickly.

After scouring the Internet and a call to Taz technical support, we learned to remove the nozzle, insert a 2mm Allen wrench into the heated chamber to dislodge the plastic.  To ensure a clean chamber, we used a flashlight on one end and a front-facing smartphone camera on the other end to ensure a clear path:


The Taz 3D printers are known for being well engineered and easy to repair.  When printers fail, our students are willing and eager to fix them!  We are thankful for their enthusiasm and the generosity of the Wayne County Community Foundation for providing these machines.


Lastly, a community member asked if she could use the laser engraver (provided by the Romich Foundation) to cut matting for artwork that she wants to frame.  We taught her how to use Corel DRAW to design the cutting pattern, then how to configure the laser to cut safely through the matting material without burning it.  The result came-out beautifully!




Stay tuned next week as we report the success of Launch Day for our engineering students’ model rockets and other happenings in the 3D Lab.



Read about the world’s largest commercial aircraft engine being fired up for the first time, with some of its parts 3D printed:


See how Boeing proposes 3D printing -ice- for aircraft certification:


Do it Yourself concept

Looking for an interesting project that combines robotics, 3D printing, and electronics?  This low-cost, make-it-yourself, line-following robot is for you:


Until next week,



Prosthetics, superhero badges, and young patrons

Hello everyone,

It’s been another busy week in the 3D Lab.  Throughout the day, there is almost always someone in the lab, but when classes let-out, it becomes a bustling place with various projects being worked / talked about.  Students discuss mathematical equations on the whiteboard, fashion plane parts from foam board, complete homework assignments, and continue work on personal and class related projects.  The energy in that room is amazing.

We are thankful for the six 3D printers in the lab, provided by the Laura B. Frick Charitable Trust – PNC Bank Trustee, the Romich Foundation, and the Wayne County Community Foundation.  It seems to be the perfect amount of printers as they are often used simultaneously yet with rarely someone waiting in-line.

If you haven’t  heard of, be prepared to lose a good part of your day exploring its ingenious inventions, all of which can be 3D printed.  One of our students has a father who lost his index finger in a machinery accident. The student discovered a finger prosthetic on Thingiverse that uses wrist motion to control a prosthetic finger with life-like motion:


The prosthetic was printed on our Up! Plus 2 3D printer, a small printer that is surprisingly fast and prints the highest quality parts compared to our other plastic based 3D printers.  Because the design involves multiple parts that snap together, the printer attached temporary plastic “supports” that the student removed after printing.  We hope to hear back from the student after his father has tried it on!  Thingiverse is testimony of people from all over the world inventing things that can’t be bought, yet freely shared with everyone.




Josh, another student who has been at Wayne College shortly after the start of the 3D Lab, has become an expert in CAD design.  In addition to the objects that he designs for himself, he has created fashion designer eyeglass frames, musical instruments, and electronics accessories.  Being an avid animé fan, Josh recently designed a badge to accompany his costume for an upcoming event.  The badge is from the “Steins;Gate” television series.


To achieve the two-tone appearance, John paused the printer after printing the badge’s gray base, quickly loaded the brown filament spool, the resumed printing.  We’ve heard that another popular trick for multi-color prints is to use magic markers to color white filament at various lengths before it enters the printer.  Regardless, Josh’s badge looks authentic and was a hit at the event!


Last week, a young community member and his mother dropped by the 3D Lab.  They first heard about the lab during Wayne College’s presense at the Buckeye Event Center’s “Trade & Employment Convention” in February.  This visit was their second experience with 3D printing and other “making” activities.  In two hour’s time, the young patron learned how to use a 3D printer, laser engraver, vinyl cutter, and 3D sculpting software.  These activities really sparked his creative interest, hopefully provoking thoughts of becoming an engineer one day.


Applying wood stain to a laser engraved plaque, courtesy of P. Graham Dunn


3D printing a Nerf accessory


3D “sculpting” a dragon


Stay tuned next week for more happenings in 3D Lab, especially as students start fabricating model rockets for launch later this semester!



Speaking of prosethics, see how this girl 3D-printed a “superhero” arm that spews out glitter:


Interested in a custom 3D printed dress, designed by you and purchased online?


Do it Yourself concept

Here is how to you can 3D print your own finger splint:


Until next week,