Watering plants space with 3D printing, laser engraver repair, and a visit to Lincoln Elementary School

Hello everyone,

It’s hard to believe that the middle of the Spring semester is just a couple of weeks away.  Mother Nature can’t make up its mind with winter; one day its relatively warm and pleasant, the next has a flash snowfall that closes roads.  The weather hasn’t hampered the camaraderie and diverse projects happening in the 3D Lab.  It’s been a particularly busy place this semester with plenty of students and community members alike hanging out, learning, making, and generally having fun.

Last week, Kei and his father visited the lab to begin work on a fascinating project that involves NASA, long-duration space missions, and 3D printing.  Future long-duration space missions will require crew members to grow their own food, so, understanding how to water plants in microgravity is an important step toward that goal and for understanding how plants behave in such an environment. A key factor is that the plant’s roots need both water and air for the plant to grow well. This presents a challenge in the apparent absence of gravity because water and air do not mix well in “weightlessness.”

Kei’s current research design challenge is to design and build a device that allows air to penetrate towards the bottom on at least one side while liquid climbs along a different side. Since there is effectively no “weight” in  microgravity, forces that we would deem minuscule or ineffective on earth is magnified in space. Hydrophobicity, hydrophilicity, and capillary action are a few of these phenomenons. The designed objects will be taking advantage of these properties to accomplish the objectives of this research.

Three objects are being created through 3D printing at the Wayne College 3D Lab. SLA resin printers are being utilized to create transparent objects for ideal experimental observation. The completed objects will then be coated with hydrophobic sprays at specific locations on the object. Finally, the objects will be tested at the NASA GRC drop tower where it will experience 2.2 seconds of microgravity while partially submerged in water. If the results qualify for the final stage of the NASA Drop Tower Challenge, they will be presented at the ASGSR conference at Denver, Colorado later this year.  We are excited for Kei and glad that the 3D Lab can realize his ideas.

The week before last, our trusty laser engraver went on-strike from frequent use.  The motor that moves the laser head left & right froze-up.  The motor would have cost almost $200 to replace, but lab staff Chris found that the motor was serviceable.  He purchased a replacement bearing (under $2), disassembled the motor, removed the frozen bearing, then carefully reassembled it.  It was quite a delicate operation with arranging the brushes and springs inside!  We are so thankful to Chris for getting our laser engraver back online.  He’s an interesting fellow and is into drones, laser engraving, and other R/C planes; stop-by the 3D Lab on a Saturday morning to chat with him.

Last week, the 3D Lab was invited to Lincoln Elementary School in Wadsworth to talk about 3D printing and how it enables young minds to consider careers in engineering.  It was quite a crowd with well over 100 children quietly sitting on the gymnasium floor, fascinated with the 3D printer and full of questions.

The students had so many questions that I couldn’t deliver my full presentation, but that was not a problem!  We talked about how 3D printers work, how we use them at Wayne College, and gave students ideas and encouragement to create and invent for themselves.  We also talked about the upcoming Wayne County Mini Maker Faire, thankful that Lincoln Elementary was part of last year’s faire.  It was a great experience and the children were so polite.

Stay tuned next week as we introduce more interesting folks who participated in last year’s Maker Faire!

Until then,


Greek City Locals Help Design Street Furniture 3D-printed From Their Plastic Waste

Russian Company “3D Bioprinting Solution” Prints Organs in Space

Like LEGOs?  Check-out These 40 Fantastic Lego Parts and Minifigs to 3D Print: https://all3dp.com/1/3d-printed-lego-bricks-heads-pieces

Learn how to make these beautiful Portuguese Azulejo tiles:

The Wayne County Mini Maker Faire is coming soon!  May 18, 2019 from 10:00-3:00.  Sign-up soon to participate as space is limited at this huge community event.  Deadline is April 1st.

Don’t miss the next Maker Monday on March 18th.  Find out more at www.schantzmakerspace.com

We offer a free “listserv” that allows to you ask questions to members in the makerspace. It’s great for sharing ideas, forming friendships, and helping & advising each other. To join, send an email to listserv@lists.uakron.edu with “SUBSCRIBE MAKERSPACE-GROUP” in the subject line.