3D Printing : Fall 2016 Recap

This semester our 3D printers were running daily to produce projects for a few different courses. The largest project came out of the Introduction to Sculpture course taught by Professor Amy Boone-McCreesh. The students were tasked with designing a file that had two simple requirements. It had to incorporate both a hook and a hole. This would allow the prints to connect to one another in countless ways much like the old barrel full of monkeys chains.

Professor Boone-McCreesh prototyped her own example file (see orange and clear prints below) to give her students an idea of where to start.  Brenda Landis then led one training session where the students were taught to use the online 3D modeling program, Tinkercad. They worked for about an hour prototyping and modifying their designs and sent the files over for test prints within 2 days. There were 6 students in the course and out of the initial test run 3 came out ready for more duplication, 1 needed minor tweaking and 2 needed extensive modification. After just a few days the files were able to be stabilized for mass production. The project goal was to print 20 copies of each file for an installation in the Writing Center (you can go check out the installation for yourself!).

The files were small enough to fit between 7 and 15 prints on the bed each time so after a week of printing daily, we had enough for the install. After reflecting on the experience we realized that some files ended up being larger than others but that also made them more stable and less likely to break when they were dropped so possibly increasing the scale would help with long term stability of the files.  The final installation files were printed in clear filament which was a help because the files could easily be repaired with hot glue that blended with the material perfectly so imperfections were not very noticeable.

More requests for prints came in as the semester progressed including a few from Professor Marcus Key’s Natural History Mosaic students. A (glow in the dark!) dinosaur skull and trilobite were printed off of files available on Thingiverse.

A student in an Environmental Studies course came to us late in the semester and wanted to print this mountain terrain for use in a presentation.

Professor Hans Pfister in Physics toured the Makery earlier this semester and was eager to chat to about the uses our 3D printer might provide in his work.  He recently read about the work Math Professor, Dave Richeson, has done on creating impossible cylinders. They are based on Sugihara’s Circle/Square Optical Illusion that is a 3-dimensional shape that looks like a circular cylinder but in a mirror looks like a square cylinder. Professor Pfister wondered if we could print a prototype from Professor Richeson’s work and in just a day Professor Richeson sent over an exported file and we printed a copy for both of them. We love it when a plan comes together.

You can download your own copy of the file on Thingiverse and this is the description of the file with blog posts and journal articles written by Professor Richeson included.

This is a 3D file based on Sugihara’s Circle/Square Optical Illusion. Kokichi Sugihara created the video “Ambiguous Optical Illusion: Rectangles and Circles.”
In it he shows a 3-dimensional shape that looks like a circular cylinder but in a mirror looks like a square cylinder.
The 3D file was created by Mathematics Professor, Dave Richeson, at Dickinson College. He has blogged about the project and has shared a pdf file that can be printed and cut to replicate the illusion. He also wrote an article about the illusion in the September 2016 issue of the journal Math Horizons. http://users.dickinson.edu/~richesod/RichesonImpossibleCylinder.pdf



Geogebra file and description

3D printing, a new fashion trend?


With 3D printers the sky is the limit. This incredible technology has been used to help engineers create prototype products, doctors can create plastic bones and DIY-ers around the world create tons of cool and useful gadgets. Even at Dickinson, using the Media Center’s own Makerbot printer, professors from the Mathematics and Earth Sciences departments have created 3D models to enhance their lessons.


One Dickinson student has explored using the technology for something entirely different, fashion. She created a very unique necklace using a template found online on one of the countless forums where people share their designs. The use of 3D printing is a hot new trend in the fashion industry with many designers looking to dream up and print wildly intricate and imaginative works. As the printers continue to become more advance and able to print with different materials their uses will become even more widespread. Just about any industry could benefit from the ability to customize and relative ease that 3D printers offer for turning virtual creations into something physical. The possibilities are endless and the Media Center has the tools that you need to create something awesome!

Various images from the production of the necklace










Everything you need to know about 3D Printing

Cube Hero created a great little post that brings everyone up to speed on everything related to 3D printing.  Even if you don’t have the slightest idea what this new technology is, you will be well versed after reading it.  Also, you will probably be fascinated by the possibilities and suddenly started seeing articles all around about 3D printing.

**side note: did you know that there is word to describe the phenomenon of seeing a word everywhere that you just learned?  I didn’t until recently.  It’s called Baader-MeinhofScreen shot 2013-03-26 at 11.49.10 AM. Now ya know!**