Tag Archives: 3D Printing

How to Create Gingerbread House Molds

By Wenchao Liu

When I visiting the Phoenix area this fall, I had the opportunity to engage in a holiday tradition—making gingerbread houses. One of the steps of making gingerbread houses is to cut out various pieces from the dough. Since I was making six houses, I thought that it would be so much easier if I could just 3D print the molds. That way, I wouldn’t need to cut the dough anymore; I could just press the molds against the dough.

The first step was to sketch different parts of the house. It was not a difficult challenge, but one of the things I had to keep in mind was about how the 3D prints should look like. For instance, it’d not be possible to create a mold with windows, because the windows would need to be somehow connected to the door frame. Thus, I sketched the windows separately.

Functionality > Beauty

After I designed the 3D prints, I used Tinkercad to model them. Most of the shapes are simply rectangles, so I used the Cube shape from Basic Shapes and simply changed the sides to 4. After that, I decreased the values of Wall Thickness, Bevel, and Bevel Segments to their corresponding minimum values. Since some of the shapes are quite big, I put some small ones inside big ones, so I could print them out all at once.

Using the Tube Shape

The real challenging part was modeling the main door of the house. As you can see from my rough design sketch, it wasn’t a usual shape. Thus, I created a triangle in a similar fashion using the Cube shape, but this time I changed the sides to 3 instead of 4, and laid it on top of a rectangle. The way I got ride of the line in the middle of the house was through the use of the “Hole” feature—I simply put a big box to cover the line and made it “Hole.”

Using “Hole”

Well, when I actually printed out one piece, it was such a failure! One thing that went wrong was the roof of the house wasn’t printed out, for whatever reason. The second thing was that the wall was too thin that it might be too weak to cut through even dough. The third thing was that the wall was too short that it might get buried in the dough. Overall, the structure is like me, an 80-pound man.

What a Joke

When I was in agony, Angela showed up at the right time, and I complained to her. She suggested that I look for online resources. She also drew me a sketch that I didn’t understand at all, but it was an inspiration. I drove back to the Chicago area that day with tears in my eyes.

Angela’s Inspirational Sketch

When I got back home, I started working on it again. Per her instructions, I first searched on Thingiverse and found a few designs. By modifying one of the designs, I got a complete set of the shapes I wanted. It took me only about half an hour!

Great Artists Steal

However, the thickness of the wall is constant, but I wanted it sharply shaped. This so-called roof shape got my attention; it could be a good shape to use! I put together four pieces of roofs of the same length to form a square. Grouping the four pieces and using the square as a template, I could easily create the rectangles I wanted. Creating the big piece was a bit more challenging, especially the top part, because the two roofs had to come together at the correct angle. I had to open my kindergarten math book and figure out the correct angle for that.

Math Is Cool

In the end, I successfully created the molds for making gingerbread houses. When I was actually printing out the pieces, I used two 3D printers simultaneously, because I was on a time budget. That’s the tip of the day: use multiple printers to speed up the process!

One last thing I want to mention is food safety. Since the molds are only intended to contact food for a very short period of time, food safety shouldn’t be an issue. However, it might not be wise to use 3D printed cups or containers, because their food safety hasn’t been studies yet.

Smaller ones were very weak, so I didn’t want to write about them.

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.

3D Printed Smartphone Microscopy

By: Harsimran Kalsi

3D printed smartphone microscopy housings and magnifying glass beads.

How did microscopy become a thing? A very brief history of microscopy.

The first microscope is largely credited to having been created by a Dutch man named Antonie Von Leeuwenhoek, during the 17th century (Howard Hughes Medical Institute). Leeuwenhoek utilized a relatively simple apparatus to discover and explore what he called, “animalcules.” His apparatus consisted primarily of a very precisely shaped glass bead, embedded into a handheld housing. Using this instrument, he explored many different mediums (e.g. pond water, blood) and discovered many different microbes (e.g. Daphnia, bacteria, red blood cells).

A replica of Leeuwenhoek’s microscope. Courtesy of Funsci.com

As time continued, more methods of microscopy have been developed and advanced. In modernity, we have crafted various advanced optical/light microscopes capable of viewing samples at 300x magnification. Other methods exist that allow us to analyze samples outside wavelengths of light suited for the human eye (e.g. infrared, ultraviolet). Methods such as scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy manipulate electrons to obtain highly detailed images of greater magnifications. These methods can magnify samples anywhere between 1,000x-30,000x (depending on the particular method).

 

 

 

Why study the microcosm?

Most life on earth is completely invisible to the human eye, without the aid of a microscope. Looking at the tree of life, one can see that most of it is microbial and that a small sliver/branch of it, actually constitutes what we can see. This vast, teeming, beautiful, and barely explored microcosm can often go overlooked every moment.

Though these microbes may go overlooked, that by no means implies that they have little affect on the way our world is. In fact, these microbes have a profound effect. Bacteria cover everything including our own skin. They also live within many organisms (including ourselves) and help us in several ways. However, many microbes can make us extremely sick and with the current state of increasing global antibiotic resistance, it is crucial that we understand more about these organisms to maintain our own well-being.

Types of 3D printed microscopy

Different methods of 3D printed microscopy have been developed over the past decade, however, the focus of this project will primarily be with one particular method. This method was developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL) and is very similar to Leeuwenhoek’s first microscope, in a lot of ways. The method consists of 3D printing a housing that hold a glass bead of a specific diameter. The diameter of the spherical glass bead in turn determines the magnification that the microscope is capable of. This apparatus then slips over your smartphone camera and can be used to view certain things.

Benefits of 3D printed smartphone microscopy

The concept of 3D printed smartphone microscopy visualizes many benefits. 3D printed microscopy methods may be far more economically feasible than other microscopy methods. Many microscopes are not cheap, however, if a microscope could be composed primarily of one cheap material (e.g. PLA, ABS) and printed quickly through additive manufacturing techniques, one might be able to print many cheap but efficient microscopes (hence maximizing productivity). Furthermore, these microscopes may be easier to use and deploy in resource poor areas.

Method

In this project, I used standardized slides with microorganisms of a known type to test the efficiency of PNNL’s smartphone microscope design against that of a standardized light microscope (a Nikon Eclipse E100). The slides consisted of Zea mays, Rhodospirilium rubrum, Bacillus megaterium, and Micrococcus luteus. Efficiency was determined primarily by comparing the magnification, resolution, durability/ease of use, and overall clarity of the smartphone microscopes with the light microscope.

Two magnifications were tested with the smartphone microscope housings: 100x and 350x (with beads of 3.5 mm and 1.0 mm diameters respectively). Many beads provided by the equipment company were not perfectly spherical and had slight imperfections (e.g. small dents, cloudiness, smudges). In this project, the most spherical and clear beads were used and a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution was used to clean the beads before and after use to optimize image clarity. Latex gloves were also used to prevent finger oils and foreign contaminants that might be located on one’s hands from contacting the bead surface.

.Stl files for the housings were obtained from PNNL’s website and the bead holes were expanded post printing, as they were initially too small.

Results

The images and figures below were obtained through analysis of the slides. The smartphone microscope images generally appeared to be of considerably lower quality compared to the light microscope. Images taken with the smartphone microscope often had poor resolution and clarity (so much so that the Zea mays sample was unobservable with the smartphone microscope). This in part might be attributed to imperfections and detritus on the bead surface. On the other hand, the smartphone microscopes were capable of magnifying fairly well, however, the poor resolution and higher sensitivity of these microscopes made it harder to view clear images and control the instrument.

Lighting was also an influencing factor. At times, it was difficult to establish optimal lighting conditions for the smartphone microscope (in contrast to the light microscopes which have a fixed and adjustable light source). Often, imperfections or oil on the bead would lead to strange diffraction patterns of light that wouldn’t illuminate the sample very well.

It also proved an arduous task to insert beads into the housing. At first, the housing files proved too small to house the beads. I ended up expanding the holes within the housings by about 0.3 mm for the x100 magnification and about .1 mm for the x350 magnification. I later created a .stl file with an assay of housings with different sized holes to find the optimal size for each magnification.

100 smartphone

350 magnification smartphone

zea light microscope

bacillus light mirco

micrococcus light micro

Promising future modifications/designs

It seems that this version of the smartphone microscope can still be promising for future smartphone microscopy endeavors. If one finds a way to address just a couple of key issues, this technology could be very efficient. Perhaps, if one found a way to maintain consistent beads with little to no imperfections, it likely would improve the resolution and clarity of the microscope. Also, if someone found a way to optimize the process of embedding the bead into the housing without contaminating, dropping, or losing the bead, that would also make a big difference. Adjusting the print files to house the beads without further adjustment would also improve the overall process.

Recent advances in smartphone microscopy include a smartphone microscope apparatus created by the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics: Arc Centre of Excellence, which is a 3D printed “clip on” that requires no bead whatsoever. The entire apparatus is 3D printed (preferably with black filament) and utilizes ambient light and camera flash to illuminate and magnify samples. More information about how it works can be found here. This method appears to be promising as well.

Acknowledgements

This project could not have been completed without the guidance of Angela Vanden Elzen. Additionally, crucial supplies were provided generously by Wayne and JoAnn of the Biology Stockroom. Thank you to Dr. Jodi Sedlock for allowing me to utilize her lab space. Special thanks also to Dr. Nancy Wall for providing the prepared slides and allowing me to use her lab space/microscope.

References

Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Seeing The Invisible: Van Leeuwenhoek’s First Glimpses Of The Microbial World. 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePnbkNVdPio. Accessed 30 May 2018.

“PNNL Smartphone Microscope – Available Technologies – PNNL”. Availabletechnologies.Pnnl.Gov, 2018, https://availabletechnologies.pnnl.gov/technology.asp?id=393. Accessed 30 May 2018.