Scanning & Replicating Museum Collections

3D scanning of museum collections is an awesome use of 3D technologies that provides a way to share rare items with the world. Many museums and libraries have been sharing 3D scans of their collections, leading to an amazing selection of historical artifacts that can be viewed in a web browser, virtual reality headsets, and often even downloaded and 3D printed. Many can be found in Sketchfab’s collection of Cultural Heritage and History items and Scan the World’s collections in Myminifactory.

All three peacocks (original in the center)

This summer, we did a little experiment with 3D scanning an item from the collection of the Lawrence University Wriston Art Center Galleries.

The original object: A 5.75 inch tall bronze inkwell from India.

The original, entitled Large inkwell, peacock design

First, we scanned the inkwell in the program MF Studio on our Matter & Form 3D scanner. It took 3 scans merged together to get a mostly complete image. We did not attempt to capture the hinged cover on the peacock’s back (where the ink would be stored and the pen would be dipped.)

Third scan of the peacock, lying on its side.

After cleaning up and merging the scans, we exported the file as an stl and prepared it for 3D printing in Cura.

Peacock file in the Cura slicing program.

We printed replicas in two very different Proto-pasta PLA blend filaments, both using an Ultimaker 2+ 3D printer. First in Cupid’s Crush Metallic Pink HTPLA.

Cupid’s Crush Metallic Pink

Then we printed another using the Magnetic Iron Composite PLA. This filament can be hard on a print nozzle, which is why we were sure to use the Ultimaker 2+ printer. The 2+ nozzles can be fairly easily swapped, and only cost $11 to replace.
In addition to being magnetic, the iron blend is also rustable. We took the peacock print home for the weekend and used a solution of white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and table salt to try to give it an aged, rusted look. We coated the peacock with the solution, placed it in a sealed bread bag, then left it outside in the sun for the afternoon (shaking it occasionally to recoat the object in solution). Full instructions for this process can be found here, Improved Rusting Method for Iron Prints. The final product was pretty impressive, and looked more like something we dug out of the ground than something we had just 3D printed.

Peacock with one of Rob Neilson’s Teddy Box objects printed in the same filament that had not been rusted.

 

The two replicas together (in different light than the other photos).

Big thank you to our friend Beth Zinsli in the Wriston Art Center galleries for letting us scan one of the collection’s objects.

Studio Art Student Use of the Makerspace

We’ve had lots of interesting uses of our makerspace by Studio Art students for both senior exhibits and assignments. Here are some examples:

3D printed face connected to a long row of stairs in white

Quantified Actualization by Penn Ryan

Penn Ryan ’18 spent a lot of time in the makerspace meticulously designing  and 3D printing stairs for his piece, “Quantified Actualization”. The top part of this piece was designed using a 3D scan of his face, scanned and printed in the makerspace. In his artist statement, he describes this work as a commentary on fitness tracking,

…”This staircase is the combined product of 5 months of tracking. Fitness tracking is often an obsessive practice. Quantifying one’s accomplishments gives someone a feeling of control over their body. Users feel that technology can give them insights into how well they are taking care of their body and therefore meeting their goals. These goals are often initially physical but become mental and occupational and all encompassing. Whether or not one is striving for improvement and accomplishing it becomes a moral judgement. Self-actualization is the ultimate goal.”

More photos, and a complete artist statement can be found in the 2018 Senior Exhibit Gallery.

The Lost Man’s Fortune by Alison Smith

Alison Smith ’17 created an installation that spread across the exterior of the Wriston Art Center and inside the senior gallery exhibit. Alison used vinyl decals to create 8-bit video game inspired art scenes, as well as used the Silhouette cutter to create paper items and treasures, also inspired by video games. Her statement explains, “this installation gives physical forms to video game objects and environments in order to change the way we interact with them through the completion of a real-life, video game inspired quest.”

More photos of installation of The Lost Man’s Fortune can be found in the 2017 Senior Exhibit Gallery.

Installation View of Mystery Ocean by Noah Gunther

Noah Gunther ’17 used the makerspace to 3D print objects for both his junior show and senior show. In both, he created virtual worlds, and brought the virtual to physical using the 3D printers. For his senior show, he integrated a virtual reality headset to let the viewer further immerse themselves in the world he created. We asked Noah to tell us a little about using 3D printers as an artist- here’s what he had to say,

“…I’ve been interested in the intersection of what we think of as “real life” and the world of computer simulation for a long time. Having access to 3D printers has been an excellent way for me to explore this connection — I build 3D models on the computer, which I then add to a computer simulation where a user can virtually interact with them. I then also 3d print the models in the same colors I display the virtual models, allowing for a direct connection between the virtual objects and the 3D printed ones. Being able to 3D print these items allows me to explore the connection between virtual and real interaction in a way I otherwise wouldn’t be able to!”

Alice Parker painting and installation by Aedan Gardill

Innovating a Legacy: Alice Parker by Aedan Gardill

Aedan R. Gardill ’18 painted a series of African American women inventors and innovators and created representational installations to accompany each painting. For Alice Parker, Aedan used the Silhouette cutter to create a vinyl display to represent her contributions to modern thermostats. He describes his series of paintings and installations as, “Sharing the stories of these women and increasing the visual representation of non-male, non-white scientists is a step forward to changing the negative cultural perspective of women in the sciences.”

More selections from the installation, Innovating a Legacy can be found in the 2018 Senior Exhibit Gallery.

Installation and paintings by Nina Sultan

Nina Sultan ’17 included interviews by portrait subjects with her paintings on display for her senior show. The interviews were played on iPads on loan from the makerspace. In her artist statement, Nina describes her works as, “Inspired by people from the Appleton community, through painting, photography, and audio documentation, the work seeks to create thoughtful narratives to unmask, appreciate, and better understand our personal connections on a deeper level.”

More photos of the installation can be found in the 2017 Senior Exhibit Gallery.

Speaking of these many student shows in the Wriston Galleries, gallery curators uses the makerspace’s Silhouette Cameo electronic cutter to create titles for their exhibits. It saves a great deal of money compared to requesting to have them made by an outside sign shop.

Word Art by Sara Morrison

Many other students have used the makerspace tools and equipment for projects related to art course assignments. Here are just a few:

Sara Morrison ’18 created a series of word art that she displayed around campus for her New Media in Art assignment. She used the 3D printer and electronic cutter to create letters from PLA filament and vinyl.

Sara encouraged members of the Lawrence University community to take photos of the word art (as she left it, and as it had been changed by others) and post them to her Tumblr page, LU Word Art.

Stencil by Malcolm Lunn-Craft

Malcolm Lunn-Craft ’17 used the electronic cutter to create stencils for his painting class. The adhesive vinyl helped with his assignment medium of spray paint.

While not created in the makerspace, Malcolm’s powerful photographs from his senior exhibit are available to view in the  2017 Senior Exhibit Gallery (content warning: visual allusion to violence).

See more uses of the makerspace by Studio Art students and faculty on our Makerspace Assignments at LU page, as well as on our Instagram and Twitter.

Gender in Makerspaces

We’ve been finding more and more reports of gender imbalances in makerspaces. This is something we’ve been conscious of since we built our space, so we’ve taken various approaches to attempt to create a space that’s inviting to all genders and non-binary folks.

  • Mixture of technologies- Our makerspace contains equipment that has been traditionally gendered male, such as the soldering station, 3D scanners, 3D printers, as well as those that have been traditionally gendered female, such as the sewing machine, quilting tools, and the Silhouette Cameo electronic cutter (which is commonly used as a scrapbooking tool). Our hope has been that by having all of this equipment in the same inclusive space, those who may have been reluctant to use something they may have originally thought wasn’t for them, will realize that these are tools for everyone.
  • Mixture of making- While we are big fans of 3D printing- electronic technology-assisted making is not the only kind that happens in our space. We have a table of painting supplies right by the entry of the space, coloring and drawing supplies on a cart outside the space, as well as collage supplies available to use.
  • Mixture of people- Our space and the student makerspace club are led by people with a mixture of gender identities.
  • Mixture of academic disciplines- We try really hard to include all academic areas of study when reaching out to faculty and students to use our makerspace. We’ve worked with a pretty wide range of courses and are actively pursuing more.
  • Mixture of decor- It might sound trivial to some, but the look of a space can create a gendered feel. We’ve attempted to add signage and decorations that are welcoming to all and that represent a wide range of tastes and visual preferences.

Future goals

We’re going to try harder to bring in more academic disciplines- especially those that do not traditionally work with technologies. We also plan to reach out to diversity-oriented student organizations and committees. In regard to makerspace tools and supplies, we plan to work with more fiber arts (including yarn crafts and 3D printing on fabrics) and come up with a wide variety of examples for use when we get our laser cutter.

Further reading

Maker Culture Has a ‘Deeply Unsettling’ Gender Problem” by Stephen Noonoo

An Exploration of Women’s Engagement in Makerspaces” by Vanessa Bean

Wall-Following RC Car

By Wenchao Liu

When I was a junior, I decided that I’d work on autonomous vehicles after graduation. However, as an undergraduate, I’d not be able to produce a research paper in the field. Thus, I dedicated my senior experience to building a self-driving RC car, which was within my reach. Calling it self-driving might be a stretch, since the only capability for the car was wall-following. However, the project really took me a lot of time and energy.

The first step was to build a platform where the electronics could stand. There were a lot of electronics that needed to be on the RC car, and they couldn’t just be taped on the top. Thus, I paid someone to use a laser cutter to cut out different parts of the platform from two pieces of plastics. After assembly, the electronics could safely be placed on top of the RC car. The Makerspace doesn’t have a laser cutter, but Angela purchased one on back order, so we’ll see when we will get it!

The second step was to put the electronics securely on the platform. That process requires a lot of screws, standoffs and even fasteners! In addition, I had to solder a lot of circuits and headers in the Makerspace. There are many useful communal tools in the Makerspace, such as a soldering iron, screw drivers and various types of glue! On top of that, Angela, who is in charge of the Makerspace, is also helpful and wiling to buy almost whatever tools you want! She also has great ears to listen to your complaints when things go south!

The final step was software. I used ROS on Ubuntu to analyze the data from the Lidar, and to send commands from the computer to the micro-controller. The computer uses the Lidar data to estimate the distance between the car and the wall. If the car is too far away from the desired distance, the computer tells the micro-controller to steer closer, and vice versa. How much should the car steer? Well, that is handled by a PID controller, which takes the off-set from the desired distance and outputs the steering angle.

Wenchao and his friend Sheila (not Angela)

In total, the project took me about half a year. I took a class on Arduino in the chemistry department in the spring term of my junior year (yes, chemistry!) and worked on the project through the following summer and fall. During the entire process, I spent quite some time in the Makerspace, complaining to Angela! When the project was finished, I gave a talk about it, and many people came, including Angela! Look at how much she aged after listening to all my complaints!