Seeing their very own designs come to life with 3D printing

Seeing their very own designs come to life with 3D printing

Junior reporters Veronica Lin and Hillary Yip got a hands-on crash course on the new technology at a pop-up STEM lab in Olympic City


3D rendering software is used to design the object before it can be printed.
Photo: Veronica Lin

Veronica Lin, 18

As a child, I was always fascinated by origami or anything that helped me to create a 3D object.

However, making paper cranes is nothing compared to 3D printing. From printing out product test models, to making body parts for organ transplants – the possibilities seem endless!

Fellow junior reporter Hillary and I went to the pop-up OC Stem Lab in Olympian City to learn about the basic process behind building a 3D model.

Luo Shi-hao, a mechanical engineer from Cocorobo, was our instructor for the day, and showed us how it’s all done using a software called 123D Design, which allows users to build 3D models on a computer.

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Luo first showed us how to use the software, then we had to think about what we wanted to make. I decided to create a 3D pendant.

Drawing the pendant on paper was already no easy task. But the software made it even harder.

First, I selected the “torus” shape (which looked like a letter V) from the list of “primitives”, which are just basic shapes like circles and rectangle. Luo helped me to adjust the size of the shape until I got it looking exactly how I wanted it.

Hillary printed a name tag (left) and Veronica printed a pendant.
Photo: Veronica Lin

After I was happy with the design, I had to create a small ring that I could string a chain through later so I could wear it as a necklace.

The tricky part was attaching the little ring to the pendant so that they are perfectly lined up to make sure it doesn’t fall apart when it gets printed out by the machine.

I asked if there was any way to know for sure if the 3D printed copy of my 2D design was going to work before printing. Luo explained that with smaller products like my pendant, people can usually make lots of copies and change them until they are perfect because of the low production cost.

However, Luo said, for much bigger projects such as a building – where there’s no way you can possible test that out in full-size before you do it for real – you have to use a series of formulas to test it out.

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A 3D printer is an extremely cool piece of technology that engineers and scientists are looking to use a lot more in the future; it works a lot quicker than human hands ever could. They can print almost anything you can imagine – from chocolate objects to houses!

Veronica and I took part in a workshop, where I made a name tag. During this workshop with OC Stem Lab, they walked us through how to turn a 2D image into a 3D printed product.

First, they opened up “123D Design”, software that turns 2D drawings into 3D renderings for printing by adding colour and shading. This type of software is similar to what they use in animation studios and companies creating new products for architects designing buildings.

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This software is known as Computer Aided Design (CAD). There are many different programmes for 3D rendering, such as Sketchup, TinkerCAD, and Blender.

Our instructor showed me how to use the software to create simple shapes and text and make my name tag.

Then, we learned how to use rendering so we could look at our product from different angles. This way, we could make edits to make sure it would be perfect both in 2D and 3D. Watch out: if you get motion sickness, you might not like this bit so much. I felt sick to my stomach just watching the image spin around.

I found the workshop super interesting and I really enjoyed playing around with some of the latest technology.

Edited by Nicole Moraleda

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Next level printing


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