Earlier this month, Studio 300 presented their first 3D Design & Printing for Teens class. Students eagerly took over the studio computers and dove into the exciting and complicated new world of designing objects in a virtual 3 dimensional world and bringing them to reality with our 3D printer.
The class began with discussion about the fundamentals of 3D design and possible uses for 3D printed objects. Everyone had their own ideas – from jewelry like necklaces and earrings, to scale models of buildings for use in architecture and design, to scale models for prototyping.
Other questions were asked that sparked discussion about the essentials of 3D design. What can be printed? What cannot? What kind of designs could be constructed that would print best? Large objects (over 5in x 5in x 11in) certainly would be impossible for even our modest Makerbot, while very small intricately detailed objects are also a limitation of the printer. The material that is being printed has other limitations such as sensitivity to heat and pressure, and an inability to flex also inhibits some designs.
The class then learned about some of the software (most of it free!) that can be used to create 3D models, and began learning a free downloadable software called SketchUp made by Google. The basics of the software’s workflow were learned, as well as the tools to create and manipulate objects. The learning curve for design in 3 dimensions is a bit steep, but these tech-savvy teens picked it up, ran with it and were creating objects in no time.
The students were then given a task – create their idea of a dream house while keeping in mind the structural limitations of the Makerbot printer. after only 45 minutes, these teens had created amazing and fun designs, from cylindrical silos and contemporary country estates to abstract minimalist apartments and biohazard arch-villain hideouts!