Allison Quinlan 3D Printing

Castle and Alien

My first dealings with 3D modelling went pretty smoothly. We were supposed to create a castle and an alien in Tinkercad. I played around with making holes for the windows and doors with different shapes and tried my best to get all the pieces flush with each other in the way I wanted. I made the alien by stacking a bunch of torus with a dodecahedron on top and grouping them. I also imported the alien into Meshmixer and messed with smoothing the rings to look more like a single object.


Using the scanners was very fun, if a bit tricky at first. My group had some difficulty angling the ipad to fit our subjects in the box. After some trial and error and realizing we could change the box size, we each made a scan of ourselves. In our first few scans we accidentally cutoff some body parts, but by my turn we had gotten the hang of it:

I also did a scan using the kinect. Because of the way the camera was held, the model had me leaning at a 45 degree angle, but I was able to correct for it in Meshmixer:


For the first deadline, I made these sketches:


Flatware – I decided to make flatware that is usable but very inconvenient. On first glance, it doesn’t seem that bad, but once you actually use it it seems impossible. I designed a plate that has a ton of dividers, making each section to small to hold a decent amount of food. The cup has a parabola shape so that it would spill most (but not all) its contents when set down. The silverware is attached together so that it is impossible to actually use the knife and infeasible to use the fork or spoon.

Cultural – I have lived in Illinois my whole life, so I looked into redesigning something important to the state. I’ve long thought that the Illinois flag (like most of the state flags, actually) didn’t seem to represent Illinois very well. Plus, its kind of ugly. For my design, I thought about how Illinois is often described as being nestled in cornfields, so I put a rough Chicago skyline in between some stalks of corn.

Art – The art piece I looked at is called “The Light Inside” by James Turrell. A lot of his work seems to create optical illusions using light. This piece is actually an underground tunnel with light along the sides. However, when seen in a 2D picture it almost seemed reversed. I sketched an abstract shape that makes the actual tunnel part of his piece solid and the blocks of light on the side would be carved out.

Custom Part – The part I need is some kind of organizer for my bookbag. I don’t like digging around through my calculator, pens, earbuds, and whatever else is in there every time I need a pencil. Though it looks pretty simple, I did take the time to measure out the stuff in my bookbag and make sure there was wiggle room so that I could actually fit my stuff in its dedicated compartment.



I decided to go forward with my flatware design. While creating the writeup about my sketches, I realized that a better way to categorize my design was that they are for very small serving sizes. The plate dividers keep you from piling on too much food and the cup will hold a small amount of liquid even when tipped over. The silverware didn’t really fit the theme, so I redesigned them to be tiny. It would take ages to eat a substantial amount of food with a spoon that can only hold a single pea or a knife that’s almost a chopstick.

We were warned not to underestimate how long it will take to print something, but I did anyway. I ran into several problems while trying to print my pieces. I started with the cup, which was started over twice because of jammed printers. Eventually it did come out, however I promptly broke it. There were supports keeping it upright, but when I tried to take them off I snapped the whole bottom off.

I moved on to print the silverware. Luckily, the problems I had with this one were easy to catch early, so it took less time. The first time I tried to print it I realized the bottom of the spoon was on the platform, but this bottom was lower than the rest of the object. When I tried to print, nothing was sticking because the platform was a centimeter below the nozzle. I flipped it over and printed again, and it came out fine.

The plate surprisingly went without any hiccups, although it did take the longest to print.


At the beginning of the semester I said I was the most excited about 3D printing because I’ve been exposed to it a lot but I’ve never actually used one. After doing the unit I’d say it has been the most educational so far. I learned a lot about the best ways to design and position objects for printing. For example, if I were to do the cup again I would print it upside down to avoid breaking it. I also got better at using 3D modeling software. I never realized how much thought goes into making an object the right shape and size. Overall, this experience has shown me that 3D printers are very cool, but very frustrating. I look forward to trying to use them again in the future.