Maker-in-residence report Danny Nguyen, Leila Farhood and Matthijs Nolst Trenité

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Maker-in-residence report

Author Danny Nguyen, Leila Farhood, Matthijs Nolst Trenité
Date 25.10.2019

Expectations & Goals

Danny, Leila, and Matthijs set out to develop a workshop on 3D printing that would be suitable for MDD students. Danny already had quite a lot of experience with 3D printing, while Leila and Matthijs had never worked with a 3D printer before. Danny began giving mini- workshops to small groups of students, but found that it was difficult to manage multiple people at a time as the sole teacher, and therefore was having to give the workshop several times to very small groups of people.

Therefore, we wanted to team up as a group of three with the goal of conducting step-by-step workshops together in order to more efficiently teach this skill to other MDD students.

We expected that there would be a large learning curve for Matthijs and Leila in learning the 3D printing software and understanding how to create a 3D object, but that the printing process itself would run smoothly. It didn't! Through a lot of trial and error, we learned what the MDD lab printer’s capabilities and limitations are and how to realistically design something to suit it.

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Installing Software

We started installing Autodesk Fusion 360 and Cura, and ran into many errors which caused a big delay in getting started. Always make sure you have installed the software correctly before you start!

Making a feasible 3d object

Once we were able to successfully install the software, we began drawing different 3D objects that we could potentially make. We drew 3 different perspectives of the objects on individual post-its: front, side, and top perspective. Working in different perspectives is also the way you work with the 3D object in Autodesk, so by trying to visualize each side of our object on post-its first, it helped us get into the mindset of working with this software.

It turned out to be harder than expected to come up with a simple 3D object that is challenging enough to be interesting, yet easy to print with the 3D printer for a beginner. As we worked out which object would be ideal for the workshop, we drew a computer mouse, a crown, and finally in the end settled on a castle.

We chose to move forward with the castle as our 3D object because it gave us the opportunity to learn how to use several different tools in Autodesk — for example, how to join an object, how to fillet it, and how to slice it. It’s complicated enough to require you to really explore the software, but also simple enough that it isn’t overwhelming for a beginner and can be made in a relatively short amount of time.

Printing our Object

After transferring our 3D file from Autodesk into Cura, we finally began printing our castle. However, we ran into many obstacles!

Danny showed Leila and Matthijs how to set up the printer, and most importantly, how much hair spray to use on the bed of the printer. It is essential to make the surface of the bed very sticky so that your 3D object is anchored to the bed while it is printing. However, as you can see in our photos, unfortunately we had to start over many times to try successfully printing our castle. What’s tricky about the 3D printer is that everything can be printing smoothly for the first 20 minutes, and then suddenly the object moves across the bed and the print is completely messed up.

We tried re-printing our castle four times, but have still yet to get it to print correctly. Because of this, we may consider using even a smaller, simpler object for our workshop demo.


Our design practice

We’ve got another tool in our toolbox for realizing prototypes and ideas. It takes a lot of time and skill to make 3D printer work for you, and we still haven’t perfected the process, but learning how to use the printer

taught us to think from another perspective. We have also learned new software. Through the act of learning a new tool ourselves, we were able to really consider how we would teach it to others — what the best object is to print for a beginner and how to best explain the process. Matthijs and Leila practiced teaching each other what Danny taught them. It took a lot of trial and error to build the castle in Autodesk until they finally got it righ and understood how to use each tool.

Workings of the lab

Working with the 3D printer gave us an idea of how we can take better advantage of the tools available in the lab. However, we learned that all 3D printers are different and that the 3D printer is the MDD lab is quite temperamental. We discovered that it is difficult to print above a certain height on this particular printer, so for the workshop, we will need to reconsider what object we use and desing something much shorter and wider.