CNC machine progress, refrigerator knobs, and Props & Pistons

Hello everyone,

As with last semester, the 3D Lab is packed with students most every hour of the day.  Some complete homework, others work on inventive personal projects, and some simply hang-out with friends to enjoy the energy that is felt there.

One of our students, Ashton, is going full-bore with building a personal 3D printer from scratch.  He is researching how to modify existing circuit boards to suit his needs and how to manually machine metal printer parts such as filament drive screw, gantry system, and other systems.  We’ll have more to report about this exciting project soon.

Students in the Tools for Engineering class are feverishly working on assignments that involve building LEGO Mindstorms robots.  These robots are tasked to travel an exact distance, turn 180 degrees, then travel back to exactly the same starting point.  It’s not as easy as it sounds, given variations in motor speeds, the non-rigid nature of LEGO blocks, battery life, etc.


Instructor Scott Gold created a “test track” on the 3D Lab floor with electrical tape, then the tests began!  After placing a robot at the starting point, students watched and cheered (and sometimes sighed) as robots usually made it safely home again.  It’s amazing how much students have learned about robotics since the start of the semester.





Our sister makerspace in Orrville (Schantz Makerspace) hosted an exciting meeting this past Monday.  Almost 20 people attended the second gathering to discuss the CNC machine project where folks build personal CNC machines together at low-cost.  Ben Engle perfected a design that started as a large, wooden machine and is now a sleek, aluminum beauty that is highly accurate, lightweight, and somewhat portable.


Ben’s machine carves shapes into wood or a permanent marker can be attached for computer controlled drawings.  A free, online program (Easle) converts the designs to “gcode” which is sent to an Arduino microcontroller.  From there, the microcontroller tells the motors how to move the router in various directions.




If you want to be involved in this workshop, there is still plenty of time to sign-up!  The estimated cost of building a machine is $700.  We will build machines at Schantz Organ together over the course of 2-3 weekends.  Please send an email to if you are interested.


A while back, a community member stopped by the 3D Lab with an interesting project.  He has an antique refrigerator with a broken knob, wanting to know if a replacement was possible.  Since it’s not possible to purchase an antique knob on Amazon, 3D printing was the perfect solution.

The gentlemen didn’t know anything about CAD design, so we sat down together and learned.  After about 20 minutes, we had a design made in the free CAD program 123D Design.  In another 20 minutes, we printed the knob with our portable 3D printer!


The knob fit somewhat well, but needed some improvements.  The next day, we tweaked the design and the community member reported a perfect fit when he took the knob home.  Now he knows something about CAD design and is able to repair things that weren’t possible before.  Another happy customer!


A couple weekends ago, the 3D Lab made another road trip, this time to the second annual Props and Pistons air show in Wadsworth, Ohio.  What does this have to do with 3D printing, you may ask?  Plenty!  Students in our 3D Lab are currently working with the MAPS Air Museum in Canton to repair a window brace for one of their planes.  We also helped them with a jet nosecone project that involves 3D scanning & printing.  Model airplane enthuisiasts and the Wayne College Flight Club uses 3D printed parts for their planes and drones.

Even though the Wayne College booth was set a bit away from the general hubbub of the air show, people streamed non-stop to our table, fascinated with the 3D printer that we brought along.  Adults and kids of all ages wanted to know more about the technology and the 3D Lab hosted at Wayne College.


During the festival, we made connections with various airplane enthusiasts and organizations interested in 3D printing to solve projects.  Our tentmates were representatives from the International Women’s Air & Space Museum in Cleveland, dedicated to preserving the history of women in aviation and space and to document their continuing contributions today and in the future.  They told us lots of interesting stories about women in aviation.




Stay tuned next week for more news and we have a big announcement in the 3D Lab!



Our Taz 3D printer was recently upgraded to support rubber parts!  See how this 3D printed door latch has one moving part – itself!


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


Do it Yourself concept

Is $700 too expensive for building your own CNC machine?  See how you can make a basic CNC using spare parts for $20:


Until next week,