Camp MAKESHOP: 3D Modeling & Laser Cutting

Friday in Camp MAKESHOP was bounded only by imagination because all our work started in virtual spaces. Our goal was to understand how to create objects of our design and desire using some of the schmanciest tools in the MAKESHOP, namely the solidoodle 3D printer and the laser cutter.

How do you narrow it down when there are no limits? We played a game to start. First you had to make a nickname consisting of a word that starts with the first letter of your first name, and then your first name. Thus, I became Hugging Henry. The next game was to imagine a world that can be very similar or very different from our world, but at least something that is new. Then, imagine something in that new world. Finally, make it real.

Harry Potter fans, this is getting close to conjuration spells. It went like this: imagine our objects, focus on the vision of it, and make it appear. Sounds too magical? To practice, we started the day working with clay. In campers’ hands, the clay became objects on a variety of scales – an ear, a hobbit house, a dragon, the Titanic, and the whole Earth.

clay objects made by campers

This is the fundamental process – find something in the world of ideas, catch hold of it and use tools to transfer it from the idea world to ours. The tools we used next were even less familiar than clay. Starting in tinkerCAD, a 3D modeling space, we used shapes we know (like cubes, pyramids, donuts) to make what we wanted.


And we ended up with amazing shapes like the Nike swoosh, a bucket-rabbit, and an underground maze. These shapes will be 3D printed in the MAKESHOP on the Solidoodle or MakerBot Replicator Dual.

Taking away one “D”, we switched to Inkscape so we could design stencils for the laser cutter to make for us. Just like with 3D printing, the printer is ideally a tool and not making the final product. Although it is marvelous, we don’t usually just appreciate the crisp, even letters of a letter we might print out of printers that we’re used to using. And so 3D printing, and laser cutting, too, are tools that we have to make precisely what we want, and the output of those tools could be useful, not merely neato.


So these stencils – you know what you can make with a paper that has “SPOCK LOVER” and the Vulcan greeting carved out of it? How about a screen printed T-shirt! Yep, the designs we cut became designs on our camp shirts.


So it was a full day of design and using tools to bring our ideas into the world using the computer to build and preview models that became real things.

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