3D Printing Educational Tools and Prototyping
Our May Hacker of the Month, Jacob Stanton, hails from Chicago, Illinois where he works as an industrial designer making 3D sketches and models for new and improved consumer, industrial, and medical products.
We contacted Jacob after seeing his design in our recent Create to Educate Lesson Plan contest. He was one of the Honorable Mentions finishers with his Neutral Spine Teaching aid. It includes a 3D printed model of the spine, which gives students a hands-on way to learn basic principles of a neutral spine. Education through manipulation of a physical model lets students see first hand the mechanics of a neutral spine and apply that knowledge to many different situations that they encounter. Posture is important for long term health and school education doesn't go far beyond mentioning to sit or stand up straight. Keeping a neutral spine is central to good posture and, now more than ever, is often compromised by computer usage and long periods of sitting.
The 3D printable model is to be manipulated to match the printed worksheet diagrams, which are common shapes of the spine in good and bad posture. Red zones between the vertebrae appear uneven when the model is out of alignment, clearly indicating where problem areas are, that can be addressed in the lesson.
Before entering the Create to Educate Lesson Plan contest, Jacob got his start in 3D printing through college - he attended a manufacturing class that included various methods of rapid prototyping.
After college, the 3D printing bug took hold of Jacob, and he ended up purchasing an Ultimaker2 to start 3D printing his own creations. It is his first 3D printer, and it’s still going strong after 3 years and many, many long prints!
After that, he moved into his current profession where he uses 3D printing for refining CAD surfacing and crude prototypes. Jacob uses his skills to create and expand upon current designs. One example would be for an ergonomic portable drill handle; 3D printing is essential because it is impossible to assess comfort and fit simply by looking at a screen. Being able to 3D print the object and hold it gives designers a new way to assess a successful concept.
What is it that drives Jacob to create lesson plans and other 3D objects?
“I really enjoy the design process. I spend a lot of time doing research, sketch ideation, test prints, and less time experimenting with 3d printer settings, sanding, gluing, or painting parts. Therefore, my designs tend to be assemblies that snap together and have some sort of unique functional aspect to them. Many of these functions, like the springy legs of my turtle, originated on paper and I just wanted to see if it could work. I find it really fun to solve a challenging problem or work out an idea that popped up in my head. Many people see my models and print them out of curiosity of their function and I am grateful for the interest of others within the community. I get a lot of questions about how I designed these prints, so I document the design process of most of the projects on my blog.”
Jacob’s first shared designs were upgrades for his own computer. Because of Ultimaker’s open source business model, he was able to make a cam tool for opening the sharp build plate clips, and a modular organization rack for storing small tools on the machine. Having CAD files made it easy to build those simple parts to interface with the Ultimaker2.
Some of the designs that Jacob has created for work and for fun include squishy turtles with different shells, mini monster trucks, antimicrobial kitchen scrubbers, portable drills, versatile dual-action C-clamps, and a pixelated Mario model.
3D printing has not only expanded the scope of his own projects but of those at his workplace as well. 3D printing is so useful for their business, they have invested in a Form 2 SLA resin printer for even more detailed prototyping. 3D printing has helped him exercise his design thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as help him understand his love for tinkering and building things.
What would Jacob like to see in the future of 3D printing?
“It would be really neat to see 3D printing venture more into the realm of cooking and food-grade products in the household. I could see a whole new 3D printing consumer emerge if there were an affordable product that could print food or food safe items.
I have had a lot of ideas around food related products, but there would be a lot of potential dangers if I were to publish these types of designs. Today, there are many limitations with food grade filament and risks of bits of material breaking off into food. The best solution I have seen is Shapeways’ ceramic material, but it is way too expensive to be practical right now.”
“I would also like to see more intuitive 3d modeling software. Modeling skills let a person explore and print things for their specific need. Right now most people can only print premade models for their amusement, which could get boring or is not interesting to people. Even the simplest modeling software today requires a bit of a learning curve which probably deters people with mild interest in 3d printing. Maybe this VR/AR boom will bring about new and intuitive modeling solutions.”
With so many amazing personal, professional and educational designs under his belt, we certainly can’t wait to see what Jacob dreams up next!
To learn more about Jacob, you can visit his blog, where you can see more of his amazing 2D and 3D designs and prints: http://www.jacobstanton.com/
Want to be our next Hacker of the Month? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, and tell us about your 3D printed creation - you could be featured in our next newsletter. Hacker of the Month wins 3 free spools of PRO Series PLA or ABS filament to further their pursuit of 3D printing greatness.
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