Throughout this semester, my journey at the Digital Making course was such a life changing experience. It opened my eyes to various tools located in both the Makers Lab and the Fab Lab. And with the help of “Milestone Lab”, our team was able to experience making a functioning prototype at the Make-A-Thon. This course has taught me that the result is not the most important aspect instead, we need to embrace our failures and talk with our users to create something that our users will love to use.
Tools I’ve learned throughout the Semester:
- 3D printing and Scanning
As an industrial design major, I came into this course with the knowledge of how to use “Solidworks”, so I thought this area was nothing new. I was wrong. Our instructor, Dr. Vishal, coordinated with several experts to teach us how to use 3D modeling programs such as “Cura” and “Fusion 360”. It was also really helpful. Our class was located in the Makers Lab, so we had direct access to these 3D printers. There was also the 3D scanner that was powered by a ipad. While holding the ipad, you can rotate the object and watch the ipad recognize the object into an “obj” file. Then sending this file and convert it to a “stl” file will grant us access to the 3D printers.
For our final project, our team used “Solidworks” to create the model and based it off of a 3D scanned Jenna’s prosthetic leg model, C-Leg, that we’ve previously scanned. The C-Leg was too long, so we had to cut it into three pieces and took us total of 10 hours, but it was the most worthy 10 hours in my life. The 3D model made our project look more refined.
2. InkScape and Laser cutting
We learned how to use “InkScape” on our first week at the Fab Lab. “InkScape” is a very simple tool to use if you have experience of any drawing tools like I do. But even without digital art experience, it’s a much simpler version of “photoshop”. The most beneficial aspect of this tool was it can be transferred over to the laser cutter. The laser cutter is using a laser that is transferred through optic lens and is shotted out through a nozzle that can cut through glass, acrylic, wood, etc in a very precise matter.
Our group used these tools during the Make-A-Thon. We first had to draw a few patterns we wanted our leg protection to have. Then we transferred the sketch into “InkScape”. Then we sent that “InkScape” file to the laser cutter and then laser cut the acrylic board. It was really cool to use all these tools and it really opened my eyes to the numerous possibility of design methods.
3. Arduino and Heat Gun
On our second week in the Fab Lab, we learned how to use the Arduino Uno. We were guided through a tutorial by the staff members in the Fab Lab. And then we were able to make the Arduino Uno turn on and off it’s LED light by uploading a blink and fade mode into the system. Our group did not use this program during the Make-A-Thon, but we are planning on using this blink and fade mechanism to brighten up the leg guard in the future.
We used the Heat Gun during the Make-A-Thon. I have never used a Heat Gun before and neither our group members did. So we were very intimidated by the amount of heat this device can heat up. However after a few practice rounds, we were able to get a clean curve based on our mold. We had our 3D scanned model of the C-Leg covered with fabric to prevent the 3D scanned model from melting. After learning the basics, we were able to create a nice acrylic protection for our model.
I was first introduced to this class from Dr. McDonagh’s disability class. This is where I met Dr. Vishal and I was inspired by his speech about this Maker’s Lab class.
This class kept me on my toes the entire time. We had a lot of submissions and deadlines to keep up, but it actually made us think constantly about our project. It came to the point where we fell in love with our project and always thought about it whenever we went. For me, I always carry around my sketchbook since you never know when a great idea might pop up. Sometimes I would sketch while I’m eating my lunch in the Link Gallery.
Throughout this course, I learned the importance of the users and learning about each steps of prototyping a project. We were assigned a mentor and we were constantly talking with them and searching for opportunities to make a better product for them. I loved how we bonded together and it drove us to wanting to help them more and more.
I am very sad that is course is over. If I had the chance, I would definitely take this course one more time. And if anyone is willing to take this course, I would highly recommend them to take this course.
There is so many techniques I’ve learned throughout this course and it opened my eyes towards how to become a great designer that cares for the users. I plan to use these techniques and pursue my dreams on becoming an empathetic designer that will seek for opportunities in other user’s needs.