Before Building

The alien created, which was then added to further in Meshmixer

Before working on my final piece for this assignment, I had the opportunity to work with a variety of different tools/platform in order to try and create well designed, 3d printable models.

These various methods of developing models had their pros and cons — using iPads and scanners didn’t work very well, but I could see how this would be a super easy and convenient way to scan models if it was working 100%. Using the Kinect was very interesting, seeing how it captured motion somewhat accurately, but was prone to duplicating or leaving off fine details on a model. TinkerCAD was cool to use because it had a lot of very basic tools and simplified the modeling process down to its bare bones in able to kind of push you to think about how to make the things you want to in the most straightforward way. Using Meshmixer allowed me to shape models more carefully, as well as giving me the ability to analyze them in different capacities and discover problems that might make my models difficult/impossible to print.

The 3D model of myself captured with the Kinect!

I created a small alien model within class using TinkerCAD and a bust of myself using the Kinect and Meshmixer before I even began preparing for the assignment. Unfortunately, I don’t have the best possible pictures of what these ended up looking like because my Epique folder was deleted from the server and I lost the files because of that. But imagine the alien with more detail and horns and imagine the bust being more consistently filled.

Build Process

This assignment was quite the undertaking for me, but eventually I was able to persevere through it and make a prototype for a necessary object that I think is pretty cool. I experienced a lot of technical difficulties along the way, but in terms of my own design decisions (and decisions on what prompt I wanted to take on) there were also some things that snagged my build process.

The eagle I half designed, residing patriotically on his pedestal.

I originally started this project by deciding that I wanted to create a 3D print for the 2nd prompt, creating a cultural artifact. I had started the

A rough drawing of my initial and final designs.

design of an eagle on a pedestal that I planned on adding more shapes and edits to by the time we went to lab for our midterm report in. Around this time, I realized how difficult it would be to print the specific thing I wanted and how much care/time I would have to put into changing up my model. After thinking things over some more I decided to work on a different prompt.

A very rough beginning design for my sketch pad.

I decided to work on prompt #4 at this point, designing a custom-built object from scratch to serve some purpose in my life. A

problem that I consistently run in to is that I want to draw in bed often. This may seem like the type of problem that can be easily solved with a notebook or a hard object to lay paper on top of, but things

My design, a little more fleshed out

aren’t always that simple. One problem I run into is that I like to be able to use a variety of different gauges/colors of pens/pencils when I am drawing, and neither a notebook or a hard object really have a place to lay more pens when in the types of positions you lay in a bed in. I then realized I could create a tray that could hold multiple sheets of paper within a lipped area, allowing me to draw and store some drawings, while also having a surface to work on. This surface would be able to support pressure on it regardless of if it was laying on something or not, making it some what different from drawing on top of a book or something, for example. I also realized I could include a pencil holder and a tray for an eraser, all while keeping this drawing pad extremely light and travel-friendly. Finally, I decided to add the personal touch of writing a message to myself to keep on the pad at all times — appropriately, “Draw More”.

Adding the adjustments to the “Draw More” design
The TAZ crapping out on my 14 hour print!

I, at first, hoped to create this design using the TAZ, as it was the only printer I had access to that could print something as large as a piece of paper (8.5″x11″). After realizing that other people typically use it for larger prints as well (and these take a long time, therefore making it unavailable) and trying to use it myself (and having it fail on me), I decided to shoot for a slightly smaller final product. I created the same drawing pad, but decided to size down the tray so that it would fit typical 3″x3″ sticky notes. All other features were reincorporated into the design, with a slightly shorter pencil holder (my other one topped out at about 6″) in order to make the design printable on the Flash Forges. I also decided on making the “Draw More” come out of the pad in a way that would allow it to be more accurately printed (rotated along the Z axis).

My absolute final design for the sticky note sketcher.

I did all my designing initially within TinkerCAD and then would pull the files into Meshmixer to either slightly alter them, fix holes, or look for structural weaknesses that needed to be fixed. After multiple, multiple iterations I finally found a design that was pleasing to me and a machine that could print it out given its size and accuracy requirements.

Final Reflection

My final product, all printed out and in use!

All-in-all, I had a super interesting experience with 3D printing for the very first time. I obviously ran into a bunch of issues with being able to get tech to work properly, as well as be available enough to troubleshoot all the problems I was running into (I had a large midterm project due the same time as this assignment, along with a bunch of assignments in other classes). I also had a hard time specifying in on what prompt I wanted to take on and I definitely think that was kind of a process of just attacking 3D printing head-on. I understand the ‘iterative’ process behind 3D printing much more thoroughly after this assignment as well. I can see how 3D printing is definitely within the stage of just trying designs out for the most part right now, but I think that those designs, as simple as they can be, can be very successful in solving unique problems.

I think the process of printing itself is actually pretty simple, just time-consuming and hard to access in a way. The design of models and especially the process of refining models can be extremely tedious and is definitely a skill that I think would take some time to develop. I don’t think that there’s anything I would really change about how I attacked this assignment, as it really gave me a broad perspective of the different challenges you can run into with 3D printing and how to take those on in a variety of different ways. This was a really fulfilling assignment to receive a final product for! The link to my final design can be found here, as required by the prompt I chose: