Using 3D Printing to Enhance Learning

The MakerLab  was honored to be invited by Infosys Foundation USA to participate in a talk on how 3D printing can be used to enhance and improve learning. Infosys Foundation USA is a “non-profit organization passionate about bridging the digital divide in America*.” Infosys works to breach this gap of knowledge between people in America by sharing stories about why people create the things that they do. These stories are posted on Infosys twitter using the hashtag WhyIMake. Not only does Infosys shares stories of what people make but the organization has also set up an information chat where companies come to talk about how their technology and how it will change America for better. Any one who wishes to learn more about a company or a particular technology can participate in the chat. Illinois MakerLab directors were invited to such a chat to talk about 3D printing’s impact on learning within a school environment. The chat consisted of 4 questions. The answers below are a general summary of what was discussed during the chat. More detailed answers can be found at

*Taken from Infosys Foundation USA’s mission statement.

Q1: Do you own a #3DPrinter in your classroom or have access to one? If not, do you see one in your future? Why?

We found that the majority of people may not have access to a 3D printer within their school but had access to one at a local library or community center. However, it does seems like schools are looking at adding some 3D printers as they could be used for example in geometry class as one participant pointed out. As schools work on getting 3D printers, be sure to check out your local library to try out 3D printing for yourself!

Q2: How do you see #3Dprinting as relevant to what you teach and your own personal background?

One participant responded to this question with “it will be one of the essential skills in future, just like Microsoft Office. I just think we should learn and know how to use it.” We completely agree! The MakerLab offers 2 different undergraduate classes involving 3D printing as well as offering numerous workshops. Other participants used CAD (digital design) regularly in the classes that they teach. These participants found it very helpful to be able to turn their digitally created designs into physical objects!

Q3: What are tangible ways you use #3Dprinting to teach concepts?

3D printers lead to easy access in the need of manufacturing on demand. 3D printing allows to repair damaged goods at a much lower cost! Another option is to use the 3D scanners to create replicas of objects one may need. We like to always remember maker Arielle Rausin using a 3D scanner to scan and then print her own wheelchair racing gloves.

Q4: What kind of support would be most useful for you? Training, curricula, projects?

Participants hope to have easier access to the hardware and software involved with 3D printing. These participants want to be able to easily teach what they know of 3D printing to others. Others find that knowing the differences between all the different 3D printers and filaments available in the world. Knowing these facts will help to make sure that your print turns out successful on the first try! Education Closet provides a great list of resources to use and consider when 3D printing.

Meet the Maker- Adrian Radocea

The MakerLab was proud to show off some 3D printing at Engineering Open House(EOH) this year! EOH is a two day event every year in the spring semester were every single engineering RSO sets up a table and shows off their skills to high school and middle school students. This year we had multiple groups come in to 3D print objects to use as demonstrations for their tables. One such student was, Adrian Radocea. Adrian is currently earning his PHD here at Illinois. His group needed a demo model to show how they use a specific type of microscope. His design models what the tool looks like and how it is used in the researching lab. His 3D printed model makes it easy to show students what their RSO does on campus. And the best part? Adrian did this all through our online ordering system! He simply uploaded his STL files onto 3D hubs and the next day he had a perfect demo to show off at EOH. Watch the video below to learn more about his #designstory at the MakerLab.


Meet The Maker- Shivani Patel

People come into the lab to print all sorts of amazing things. And every print has its own story. In Shivani Patel’s case, that story involved an octopus and some bowls. Shivani came into the MakerLab for an assignment in her Informatics 490: Makerspace class. For her assignment, Shivani decided to create a unique table piece where the octopus would hold a small bowl on each of its hands, and you would be able to place objects in those bowls. She designed this whole model using Tinkercad! This was only the second time she had 3D printed anything but she loves the experience as she learns something new each time she prints an item. Like Shivani, every person who comes into the lab has a story. The question is: What will your story be?

Check out our other stories! Want to be featured in a blog post? If you have an interesting story that you would like to tell about making at the lab, share it with us by emailing! Don’t forget to like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter or Instagram!

Volunteer Spotlight- Will Jones

The MakerLab volunteers are a really important part of the lab. They help day-to-day welcoming makers, and assist with workshops and fixing printers.  Today, we will introduce you to one of our volunteers, Will Jones!


Will is currently a freshman in the Division of General Studies. He is hoping to transfer into Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering next year. Will first came to the MakerLab to print a mount for his GoPro camera. Once he figured out about the opportunity to volunteer here, he signed right up! Since then Will has been an instrumental part of the MakerLab team. He is currently working on getting a 3D workshop using a program known as Mathematica up and running. Mathematica, much as its name infers, uses math to create 3D objects that can then be printed. Will has also done a lot of printing on his own. Just recently Will submitted two prints for a cosplay contest in 3D printing.

Proof that Tony Stark has a heart

This icon model can be found in the first Iron Man movie. This is the arc reactor worn by Tony Stark (aka Iron Man). In this movie, Tony’s assistant, Pepper Potts, gives Tony his arc reactor back as a desktop ornament and engraves the words “proof that Tony Stark has a heart” on it. This two day print can be put together fairly easily without the use of glue. An added benefit of the model Will designed is the space in the center of the arc reactor. This space was created to make room for LED lights to make the model light up!

 The Galaxy on Orion’s Belt

Men in Black fans will love this replica of the galaxy that hung from the cat, Orion, in the first Men in Black movie. This replica was printed using soluble support structures. These structures dissolve in water once the print is finished, allowing for a smoother print overall. Will ended up painting the final design gold and silver to match the galaxy found in the movie.

Want to be a volunteer at the MakerLab? Apply to join the Spring 2017 MakerLab team! And don’t forget! Like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram to get the latest news.

Volunteer Spotlight- Dash Kosaka

The MakerLab volunteers are a really important part of the lab. They help day to day welcoming makers, and assist with workshops and fixing printers.  Today, we will introduce you to one of our volunteers, Dash Kosaka!

dash-1 dash

Dash started working in the MakerLab his freshman year after being recommended to try it out. When he started working here, he had never before seen a 3D printer before. And he had no idea how a 3D printer even worked. He is now a sophomore majoring in Computer Engineering and is a huge part of the MakerLab team. Dash loves to work with the printers as opposed to the software or modeling. He deals with any problems that occur with the printer malfunctioning. Currently, he is working with our guru, Billy, to get the food printer up and running. Even though he works mostly behind the scenes to make sure the printers actually work, that does not mean he does not print anything. Here is some stuff Dash has printed during his time at the MakerLab.