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December 2017

Final Project

            The DIY/Maker movement is
viewed as the new industrial revolution. People who once lacked confidence now
have the ability to create and innovate. In my eyes the maker movement deals
with innovating or tinkering inventions, as well as making new things. I feel
as though I am a part of this maker movement. All of my life I have loved
putting things together; from Lego to build sets I received as gifts. I also
have always been interested in engineering, specifically making and improving
things. I am now in college and I have the opportunity to continue to express
my maker/engineering abilities in my first-year seminar course. A college level
class like this opens up more resources to use on projects and other work. The
experience through this first semester has been good. I have learned many
techniques and different things about some discoveries.  One thing I enjoy doing in this course is
creating products by using techniques we have learned and also using
discoveries we have talked about.  For
our final project we were asked to create something that would be useful, as
well as being required to use a new skill in the creation process.

            Looking back on this
semester, we have learned and practiced many skills. One skill that I still
didn’t understand was 3D printing and I decided that I should use this to
create my stand. In high school I used Autodesk inventor to create objects.
After creating them my teacher would print some of them out. We never had the
opportunity to actually program the printing to occur so this project gave me
the perfect opportunity to find out how. The basic things I knew about 3D
printing is that you need a 3D printer, filament, and a printing program. 3D
printing turns a drawn object into an actual 3D model. Printers make objects
slice by slice from the bottom up using many different materials. These
printers use the material and heat to create whatever object you would like. The
main types of filaments that I know are used to print, are PLA and ABS. PLA is
a polylactic acid material which is vegetable based and is the primary filament
used in 3D printing. ABS is an acrylonitrile butadiene styrene material known
for its strength, and light weight (sculpteo). Both filaments can withstand
high temperatures. For printing, there are many programs but the one I chose to
create my product was MeshMixer. Meshmixer is an Autodesk program used for CAD
(computer aided design) and a 3D modelling tool. The main use of this program
is to fix and enhance meshes, or drawings, for 3D printing. One of the
resources that our professor has for us to work on 3D printing is a place in
Westminster called Ting Makerspace which is a shop powered by the DIY maker
movement. Ting has many computers, game systems, machines, and a 3D printer.
All of which are used as outlets for creativity. This place allows makers to do
what they do best.

            For my final project I will be
creating a tabletop textbook stand. When I am doing work, such as taking notes from
a textbook, it sometimes grows bothersome to look down at my textbook and then
back up at my computer screen. Also, when using a small table to do work on,
some of my textbooks take up a lot of space. Creating a textbook stand solves both
problems. During the creative process it can prove difficult to think of ideas
on the spot. I did some research and congregated amongst my peers to bring
forth the best way to design it. One resource which we used in the beginning of
the semester was Thingiverse. Thingiverse is a website used for makers to share
their 3D printed projects. The style of my stand came from this website. On one
of our first final project tinkering days I created a prototype. This prototype
consisted of a foam box with two wooden rods protruding from the top of it. I
made this to see what factors I should take into consideration for my actual
stand. Factors include the size of the base, size of the stands resting
platform, how the base should be created to provide the best support, etc. After
making the prototype I realized that something like it would be too big, and
not very practical.

            To create my stand, I used Meshmixer
as described before. On Meshmixer I changed the size of the stand and a portion
of the base. To print I went to Ting makerspace. There printing specialist,
Steve, assisted me. I picked up the stand the following day and tested it with
my Astronomy textbook. One thing I noticed was that the stand would slide back,
and the book would slide down. For the next open tinkering day, I worked on
fixing the two problems. This same day many guests came in to see our final
projects. I thought I would have been overwhelmed however I ended up being just
fine. To fix my stand’s problems I added hot glue at the bottom of it to stop
it from sliding. I chose to use hot glue because when dry, it creates a rubber
like substance which causes friction between itself and its surface. To stop
the book from falling I attached a wooden pole to the back of it horizontally. To
hold the pages up specifically I wrapped a hanger around the wooden pole and
bent the ends of the hanger. The ends of the hanger can be bent to hold the
pages down for any size textbook. Another problem that I found was that the
shelf portion of the stand was too short, so I cut a small piece of wood to
attach to the 3D printed shelf. I attached these pieces with hot glue. When the
glue dried I decided to test my creation once more. The stand worked perfectly
but the pages were still sliding a little. The next work day I grabbed some
clothespins and clipped them to the bottom of the stand. Having the clothes
pins takes away the main job of the hanger so that the hanger could be used as
a book mark.

            As the end of my first college
semester approaches I am very satisfied with my first-year seminar course. I was
given the opportunity to express myself through the many mediums, effectively
using my mind to create things. Dr. Staab is an amazing professor who really
understands the dramatic, and often overwhelming, shift from high school to
college for freshman. She is aware of the various ins and outs of it all.
Leading up to this point, we’ve had many opening tinkering days and many class
discussions. Our discussions were based on readings about characteristics that impacts
everyone. A reading which I remember highlighted the concept of grit. Grit to
me is having confidence in your mental and physical strength to get any job
done along with the willingness to persevere. Some days I would come to class
with no ideas yet deep down my grit kicked in and allowed me to create things
like a phone stand, or a portable charger. I was determined to break through my
creative barrier. Open tinkering days are an amazing idea and all classes
should have them. On the most important one the visitors who came were very
interested in what was being built. This truly highlights the deep-seated
desire of innovation. I didn’t really think that people would care about what
we did, except Dr. Staab of course, but knowing that other people want to give
you advice on your thought process helps boost us maker’s confidence. Also,
this allowed me to work on some soft skills which are everyday things people
work on without knowing such as leading, presenting, and managing your time. I
have learned many techniques and different things about discovery with the help
of my college peers and professors. My final project allowed me to
use a new skill and create something that was useful to me with the strong
criticism of others.  For good ideas and true innovation, you need human
interaction, conflict, argument, debate. Discovery consists of seeing
what everybody has seen, and thinking what nobody has thought. Discovery
is key.




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