3D Printing Projects

Two weeks ago I finished teaching a semester course on the “Mathematics of 3D printing” with Tim Berg, Professor of Ceramics here at Pitzer College. Unfortunately, once the semester ended I went straight into teaching a 3 week intensive summer class in Multivariable Calculus. That didn’t leave much time for blogging!

This was the third time I taught (or cotaught) a class on 3D Printing. Each class turned out  very different. This time around we spent about two-thirds of the time learning how to write scripts to mimic (and subsequently modify) most of the built-in functions common in CAD programs. For example, one common CAD tool takes a curve drawn by the user and turns it into a tube. In Rhino3D this is the “pipe” tool. After reconstructing this tool in python code, a slight modification allowed the students to produce a tool to make a “wavy” pipe:


The scripting portion of the class culminated with a project in which students had to write python code to generate a ring or bracelet. The parameters of the project specified some kind of braid, rope, or chain design, but some exceptions to this were granted. An important part of the project was to produce 3D-printable items to be fabricated by Shapeways, so students had to keep in mind a variety of constraints imposed on them by their material choices. Here are a few of the amazing things they made:

The second project was to use any combination of scripting and native Rhino tools to design a chair. In advance of this, each student was to choose a well-known designer and do some research about their style. The students’ chairs were supposed to reflect the style of their chosen designer. All chairs were then printed “in-house” on a plastic-extruding printer, which presented its own set of design constraints. I love the variety of what they produced!

I’m really proud of all of our students: Michael Barclay, Ben Bleier, Evan Bodell, Naomi Brooks, Si Cave, Rishov Chatterjee, Noah Christenson, Kendyl Douglas, Sanford Glickman, Joshua Guggenheim, Isabel Jones, David Menard, Christian Moniz, Roz Naimi, Sachi Watasi, and Emma Wenger. Well done, class!!




1 thought on “3D Printing Projects

  • Hi there! I stumbled upon this blog today while looking for art of a similar essence to the art that I do, and was so pleasantly surprised when I found this! 🙂 I’m working on a project called Fractal Rock that I’m currently fundraising for, but all the information about the project is on our Indiegogo at fractalrock2016.com. Is there any way that we can collaborate in putting a piece together for your blog that would also spread the word about our project? It would be so helpful, and mutually beneficial to the support of mathy art! Thanks!

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