Meet the Maker- Mitch Altman

Anyone can learn to solder! It's fun, it's easy, and it's useful. Mitch Altman, San-Francisco based hacker and inventor and UIUC alumnus, has taught tens of thousands of people to solder around the world. Just recently here in Champaign! Participants of all ages came to learn the basics of electronics, and how to make cool things! But most importantly, Mitch shows people how to use his invention: the TV-B-Gone universal remote control. This simple and powerful device can turn off almost any TV in public places, and do so up to 50 meters away. It's effective! It's safe! It's a fun unique way to turn TVs off. Below is a video of Mitch's remote in actions!

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#WeAreGies. This hashtag has been trending for months at the University of Illinois. Why you might ask? Last year, CEO of Madison Industries, Larry Gies, donated 150 million dollars to the school of business. Sparking the naming of the school to the Gies College of Business. And now the Gies College of Business is welcoming the class of 2022 to the campus! Just last Saturday, 250 prospect freshman for Fall 2018 came to Illinois to learn more about the college of business as a whole! And when they got there? Each participant received a 3D printed keychain with #WeAreGies printed on it printed by yours truly, the Illinois MakerLab! Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment, Kelly Janssen, contacted us about 2 weeks before the event with a request to print 250 dual color keychains. We got off to a rough start struggling to get the keychains to print without curling on the edges but with the addition of a  brim we were. By utilizing all 3 of our Ultimaker 3's we were able to crank out this order in no time! We hope all prospect freshman enjoy their keychains! #WeAreGies!

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Meet the Maker- Fritz

"The thing about being a designer is that the attitude and curiosity don’t retire."

- Charles Danielson (AKA Fritz)

Fritz may be retired from his job as an Art and Design Educator but his imagination and passion for 3D printing never stops. Fritz is a University of Illinois Alum after attending school here for both his bachelor's degree in Industrial Design and master's in Graphic Design. Fritz first found our lab through our series of workshops. There he learned the possibilities of what 3D printing can do! Afterwards, he let his imagination run wild and started using SketchUp to design his own models. Recently he designed a phone holder for his car that would rest on the dash board beyond the steering wheel so that he can drive hands free but still be able to see his screen. This is extremely useful when using Google Maps! This is only one of Fritz's many designs that he has made over the years and we hope to see him in the lab soon to print another!

Stay tuned for MakerLab updates by subscribing to our newsletter, liking us on Facebook, or following us on Snapchat(uimakerlab),  Twitter or Instagram. 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!

Digital Making Week 2 Reflection

As the Spring 2018 Semester takes off so does Professor Vishal's Digital Making Course! Below is a reflection by student Ajie Mathew about week 2 of this course. 

Guest Lecturer

At the start of week 2, the class was privileged to hear from John Hornick, a Finnegan lawyer who isa  litigator and counselor with broad experience across the intellectual property practice. More than that, he authored the book, “3D Printing Will Rock the World.”   John closely follows the 3D industry and advises his clients about the intellectual property issues surrounding this rapidly developing technology and how they may affect their businesses. Though we were only able to video-conference him, we all learned a great deal from this expert.



John taught us how 3D printing is flipping traditional manufacturing’s business model on its head. This model depends on mass production, economies of scale, and low labor costs, which are major barriers for competitors. 3D printing, however, eliminates these barriers because just one machine can produce an entire product and needs only a fraction of the labor. Furthermore, it brings the marginal cost down to nearly zero – John taught us that whether you print 1 jet engine, or 100,000 bolts for jet engines – the fixed cost of production would stay the same. He showed us how modern-day innovators were printing actual engines, full-sized cars and motorcycles, and even human organs. It was truly insightful to John’s wisdom. He taught us that given the highly unregulated and complex nature of securing intellectual property rights for virtual design, it’s nearly impossible to control who prints what.



Learning & Skills Objectives

During this week, our learning objectives included learning from what others have made/shared, as well as forming team names and brainstorming logo ideas.

The class spent time on a variety of online design databases: including Thingiverse, TinkerCAD, and Pinshape, just to name a few. We found that each site had a particular theme to it. For example, TinkerCAD had a lot of complex mechanics/tooling designs. On the other hand, Thingiverse was much more light-hearted, with models much more accessible to kids of all ages. As a class, we pored through these sites, finding interesting designs and sharing what we liked, what we disliked, and how we would further innovate with each other.



Finally, Professor Sachdev sorted us into our semester project teams. Many of us had to take a few days to come up with our team names. We have a lot of creativity in the class – just to name a few: Synergy, Money Makers, Fast Foward, Animakers, etc. Beyond simply naming our team, we were all tasked with creating a logo to 3D print in the following week. This was easy enough on paper, but we will see what happens when we upload onto an actual printer!



(PC: Aubrey Haskett)

Readings Reviewed

We had three readings that we reviewed this week. The first was entitled “How to Make Almost Anything” by Neil Gershenfeld. Neil discusses the newest digital revolution that is coming upon us, in fabrication. He writes about how communities should not fear or ignore digital fabrication – they can be used to educate, innovate, and breathe life into communities. Next, we read “The Maker Mindset” by Dale Dougherty. Dale discusses a crucial mentality that our class needs to develop – the Maker Mentality.

This is a kind of mindset that teaches people – especially students – to few problems not as static, but dynamic. This mindset creates a platform for students to ‘create’ new solutions to problems using innovative thinking strategies – all made possible through the 3D-printing revolution! Finally, we watched a video called “The Birth of Desktop Printing” with Matt Griffin which highlights the slow process that brought desktop printers (ex: Ultimaker) to the forefront of the consumer markets.



Overall, the three resources for Week 2 helped lay a solid foundation us to understand what 3D printing is, where it came from, and where it can go.

Student Reflections

As a class, we found Week 2 of BADM395: Making Things to be incredibly insightful. One student’s sentiments captures our thoughts well, “I don’t understand how these milestones have been happening under my nose. Owning the means of production used to be a privilege reserved for the rich, but now everyone can print from their home with this technology. The consumer’s changing relationship with traditional manufacturing is fueling the maker movement. (Rindler). Traditional consumers are evolving into prosumers all around us – we are now a part of this revolution.



As we progress into this class, the class is collectively excited to gain more hands-on experience as we expand our ‘maker mentalities’. In class to date, we’ve gained a lot of contextual and expert information on the industry and trends. Starting next week, we will have a crash-course in online modeling, the Cura software, and have a chance to actually print the team logos we planned this week.  We will have the opportunity to use our minds (and our machines) to bringsomething forward from nothing. Who knows, we may all end up with only melted piles of plastic after our first print – either way, we are extremely excited to see what the future holds this semester!

Illinois MakerLab makes prosthetic hands for a Civil War Tech Workshop

The Illinois MakerLab was excited to collaborate with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum on a Civil War Tech Workshop. This event happened on January 6, 2018. This workshop was specific to medical advances in the Civil War era. Children and their parents learned about how medical research changed after the creation of the Army Medical Museum in 1862. The participants had the opportunity to assemble 3D-printed prosthetic hands printed by the Illinois MakerLab. Children learned about the evolution of prosthetic and technology during the Civil War. The workshop compared this historical information to modern-day 3D printing. The Illinois Maker Lab was thrilled by this opportunity. Our gurus and volunteers enhanced their 3D printing skills and learned more about how 3D printing relates to the medical industry. Featured is a video time lapse of the 3D prostheses in action! There is a link to read more about this story on News Channel 20. We would like to thank the Education Coordinator, Betsy O’Brien, for reaching out and making this partnership possible.

Stop by the Illinois MakerLab to learn more about projects like these or create one of your own! 

Volunteer Spotlight- Tony Kim

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, Tony Kim!


Tony is a junior here at Illinios studying business and statistics. Tony found out about the MakerLab though a course taught by MakerLab co-director Vishal Sachdev. After hearing Vishal talk about the lab, Tony joined as a volunteer because everything looked so cool. Tony’s favorite part about the lab varied as the semester has progressed. Towards the beginning Tony loved to learn how to fix the printers, but now that he knows how to 3D print Tony has taken on the challenge of finding and creating his own models to print. Tony is one of our most involved volunteers at the MakerLab. He is a part of connecting all 3D printing labs across campus, helping to write blogs for our website and has just recently joined our social media team to manage the YouTube channel. So be on the lookout for his first video coming soon on what exactly is 3D printing. Tony would like to help spread awareness of 3D printing to students who are not actively pursuing a STEM major. To kick off his goal Tony 3D printed his own Phantom of the Opera mask to show off to his friends during Halloween! We will be sad to see Tony and all of his enthusiasm leave at the end of this semester as he will return to Korea University. But the MakerLab spirit will live on as Tony hopes to start a MakerLab there! Good luck Tony!

Stay tuned for MakerLab updates by liking us on Facebook, or following us on Snapchat(uimakerlab), Twitter or Instagram. 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!