Ladies Learning Code workshops are all about hands-on, project-based learning. At every workshop, participants have the chance to experience the fun that comes with building something from nothing, into a completed project. Typically, participants build websites or games. On Saturday, though, participants had the chance to work on a physical project for the first time, through our very first 3D Modelling & Printing Workshop.
One by one, the printers rolled in; Makerbots, Repraps, Pandabots and more, we spent the day with twelve unique 3D printers and their owners. It was a beautiful thing to see.
We spent the first half of the workshop learning about 3D modelling, using Autodesk Meshmixer, specifically. We learned that almost everything is designed in 3D before it’s ever made, such as toys, packaging, perhaps even your kitchen. Most shampoo bottles you see on TV commercials are 3D models, not the actual bottle!
Participants worked in pairs to learn Autodesk Meshmixer, a free tool for working with high resolution 3D models. (You can download it here.) Each pair worked to import shapes, use camera controls, tools, and brushes. Each pair sculpted models that could later be printed on a loop for a pendant or attached to a magnet. Learners designed pendants with flowers, hearts, characters, letters and more – the possibilities were endless!
Love to see people excited about 3D printing/modeling! Look at them goooo instagr.am/p/NEKlaJMSso/
— Ashley Jane Lewis (@AshleyJaneLewis) July 14, 2012
— Danielle O’Hanley (@dohanley) July 14, 2012
After the learners were happy with their creations, the file was put onto a USB key and taken into the printing room. It was time to “make”! Our mentors uploaded the file while telling learners stories of 3D printing and engaging them in conversation about the technology. You could feel the anticipation in the room as learners were wondering if the model they made would turn out to be a successful 3D print. Because 3D printing technology is so new, each print is a new adventure.
The room was buzzing as the printers started printing, one string and layer of ABS plastic at a time, row by row. Each creation took anywhere from 20-45 minutes to print. In the end, many prints turned out wonderfully and learners were sent home with a pendant or magnet and lots of knowledge about 3D printing!