Design Stories

Illinois MakerLab Team Competes in National Make48 Competition

This year, the University of Illinois was one of the twelve schools invited to participate in Make48, an annual competition that invites teams of four individuals to participate in a weekend-long design competition. Participants must plan, prototype, and pitch a new idea, drawing inspiration from a given theme in just 48 hours! This year we were excited to send a team of 4 from the MakerLab: Yuxuan Tang, Dashiell Kosaka, Suixin Liu, and William Casey Jones. They got to travel to Baltimore, Maryland this past August to engage with makers from all around the country. And the best part? They were filmed lived as Make48 doubles as an educational tv series. So, our very own team will appear on season 3 which will air Fall 2019! Stay tuned and don’t watch our makers in action at Make48 next fall!

I learned so much ranging from shop tools to marketing, knowledge that my major would never have given me alone. I knew being an entrepreneur was hard, but even with the constant assistance from the helpers there, we were very pressed for time. There were also so many sponsors and big names for the event we were able to meet [and] the team was able to get our names out there.
— Dashiell Kosaka, MakerLab Guru

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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!

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Designed and Printed at the Lab- Train Placard

For those born in the technology age, every wonder what people did before? How did people communicate without phones? What was it like having to travel by boat to cross the ocean? How did you keep track of hazardous chemicals on trains? We learned a lot about the last question from maker, Don Wittmuss. He came in hoping to replicate an ancient train placard to use as a casting or a mold. A train placard is a small sign that is placed in a noticeable location that tells what the car is carrying. This is used a lot of the time in relation to harmful chemicals that may be in the car. This small placard let anyone who was loading or unloading that car to be careful and wear protective gear. Mr. Wittmuss wanted us to model and design at the lab a 119 train placard. The numbers 119 signified that the train car was holding compressed gas that was both flammable and poisonous. Guru, William Jones, was able to design this small placard from scratch in just under an hour. The final product looks amazing! Mr. Wittmuss is now going to take our 3D designed and printed model to make metal and wax castings of the placard.

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Designed and Printed at the Lab- Light Fixtures

Champaign offers hundreds of opportunities to enjoy a night out with friends or family. Among all of these options lies the Virginia Theater. For about a hundred years, the Virginia Theater has been home to one of Champaign's finest performing arts center and movie palace. You can see anything from live music to comedy shows to dance competitions. Currently, Virginia Theater has been in the midst of renovating and that is where we come in. Architect, Neil Strack, came into the MakerLab to duplicate some hundred year old light fixtures that hung at the entrance to the auditorium. He choose to 3D print the light fixtures because of how affordable it was and the fact that the light fixture was extremely difficult to duplicate on its own. Guru, William Jones, took the lead of designing this order to Mr. Strack's specifications. Will was able to scan the original piece, seen on the far right, and obtain the digital image of the object. From there he printed the orange practice piece in the middle picture to make sure that the piece meet Mr. Strack's expectations. After getting the go ahead, Will was able to print the final pieces for the light fixtures. These will now be hanging up as light fixtures for the newly renovated Virginia Theater. Stop by and see these 3D printed light fixtures in action!

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Get Ideas Turned Into 3D Models

Here at the MakerLab many of our gurus are quite skilled in digitally designing an order to the customers satisfaction. Just recently we had two of our lab designers, Clark Csiki and Yazmine Carbajal, help an engineering company to design a conveyor system. Clark and Yazmine are both juniors here at Illinois studying Industrial Design. Clark's passion for design process originally drew him to the MakerLab. Yazmine hopes to use her knowledge gained at the lab to design medical devices for transplant patients. Both are a great addition to the MakerLab and love to turn 2D designs into 3D designs. Which is exactly what they did in designing the conveyor system. Using a software known as Solidworks, Clark and Yazmine were able to turn the company's 2D computer-aided design (CAD) of the conveyor system and convert it into a 3D digital model. Clark and Yazmine worked closely with representatives of the company to make sure that the design order meet all of requirements. Frequent meetings occurred between the designers and the representatives to clear up any questions and to keep on track with the time frame. Once our designers completed the model to the customers satisfaction, they sent it off to get 3D printed! Clark and Yazmine did a great job in designing this order!

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Designed and Printed at the Lab- Sink Stopper


What will you make? This is the first question asked when arriving at the MakerLab. In this case, the answer to that question was a sink stopper. Phil Calhoun came in to 3D print a prototype of a modified sink stopper. He had made a prototype in his garage, but needed a refined protototype that he could pitch to firms that sell plumbing equipment. He hoped to later sell the patent rights of the sink stopper to a plumbing manufacturer. The MakerLab was more that willing to help Mr. Calhoun achieve his goal. Our guru, Scott Zelman, took charge of this project by digitally designing the model that Mr. Calhoun wanted to print.  We printed the model, but could not get the accuracy we need with the FDM machines, so we outsourced the printing of model to the rapid prototyping lab in Engineering. Unfortunately, we can not share any photos of the sink stopper, due to confidentiality issues, but Mr. Calhoun was kind enough to say a few words about his project. Watch the video below to learn more about his #designstory at the MakerLab. [embed][/embed]

Check out our other stories or create a new one by stopping by the MakerLab. Having trouble making your design come to life? Contact us for help ! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.