Huda Salha. DIGF-6013-001 Digital Fabrication- Assignment # 1


Title and Design Concept

For my assignment on impossible objects, I have decided to make little figures that were inspired by my own family.  The title of the project, “Fa-Mi-Li,” was suggested by my children. Their first impression when they saw my 3D printed objects was “an astrobot family!”  Since they all play music, we decided to make it a musical name to emulate the Do Re Mi musical notes. In addition, the disconnection in the word “fa-mi-ly” represents the various processes and stages used in 3D printing from concept to the final actualizationof the object.

My original tool of making is oil and acrylic painting. I have also experimented with video art and installation using various forms of traditional 3D making. As an interdisciplinary artist, I joined this course because I wanted to learn 3D printing to enrich my artistic production vocabulary, and explore with new ways of making.  At first, for the impossible object project, I wanted to 3D print body parts like hands and feet, to eventually bronze cast and incorporate in a project relevant to my thesis research on displacement, identity and memory.

Iterative Design Process

Realizing that it was not possible to learn how to design feet and hands in 3D within a short period of time, especially being a beginner with a very limited knowledge in technology tools, I decided instead to go with a simpler concept, thus, using the course as it is originally intended for: to learn the technicalities and process of 3D printing, and not to worry about failure, being a possibility.

Therefore, I started experimenting with the Tinkercad to build my 3D model. I managed creating a few designs, however, it seemed to me that they are going to render flat in printing. in fears that those designs would not work, I decided to use some of the ready models on Tinkercad. One of the designs that caught my attention was a figure of an astrobot. This made me think of my family. Hence, I was able to multiply the figure and adjust the measures and features of each, creating a small family of various sizes. I was happy with the results.

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My final objects do not fall far from my thesis theme: Displacement. My astrobots, with the survival oxygen tanks on their backs are reminiscent of migrants with suitcases carrying the most precious things they could take away with them.


In class, we were given hands-on demonstrations on how to set up and use a 3D printer. Using a free software program called Cura for LulzBot, we were also shown how to render our designs and prepare them for printing with LulzBot 3D printer. It was easy to follow with the instructions and convert the model into G code. I was fascinated by the major transformation and capabilities of the Cura software, given how easy it was to learn the basics of it. Cura enabled me to adjust my design size and get an idea of its approximate size compared to the printer’s bed.

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Later on, I took my design to the makers lab; transferred it into SD, and it was ready to print. I used PLA 3D printer Filament. When it came to choosing the colour of material, I thought of my children’s favourite colours, but those were not available. Eventually I decided to go with white so that I can paint my figures to the likeness of my children.


At last, I was able to have my printed objects. I was excited to walk in and finally see that my figures have made it. I enjoyed the texture of the support material, so I decided to keep it.


Objective: Intended Result vs. Actual Result 

As I have mentioned above, my primary goal of 3D printing was to serve my thesis work and produce 3D printed body parts that can be casted in other media. However, my work ended up to be a coloring project for children and inspired future work in this direction. Finally, when I brought my 3D objects home and showed them to my children, they were so interested in the figures and wanted to help colour them. The figures ended up being a colouring project for my children. At first, they wanted to experiment with water colour to produce a transparent effect, but it did not give the intended result, so they switched to acrylic paint. The children suggested that I should have made enough of the figures to represent the entire family, so I am planning on expanding the Fa-Mi-Li by three more.


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Since I also work with children at schools and in the community, this has inspired me to use 3D prints in children’s activities, especially for those with disability and possibly for art therapy application. I have searched some websites that offer ready 3D design like https://all3dp.com/printables/, which has Legos and interesting characters, so children can choose their favourite designs or characters, colour it, gift it or take it home. This can be similar to a place called The Clay Emporium, where kids can glaze clay objects, then pick those up when they are fired.


My researchfor this particular project revolved around my concerns of the advantages versus disadvantages of 3D printing. On the one hand, the process of 3D printing and the ability to be able to make things is interesting. It offers an easy and fast approach to production. In light of mass production, 3D printing should offer both affordability and accessibility to objects. For example, machine parts including certain car parts that are very expensive should become more affordable thanks to the 3D printing technology. This way, they will become worth fixing rather than being disposed of. 3D printing offers unlimited possibilities in both decorative and functional items. It is very revolutionary and effective in the medical field in terms of hearing aids and prosthetics, to name a few.

On the other hand, the easiness of 3D printing can raise concerns, as it can be used in the production of dangerous weaponry. In 2012, Defense Distributed group in the U.S announced its intention to design working 3D printable guns and rifles that can be reproduced by anybody with a 3D printer. Most recently, the owner of Defense Distributedhas begun selling blueprints of the weapons to elude a court order that banned him from offering free downloads of the plans.

In addition, the mass production and the heavy reliance on plastic can have negative impact on the environment, as all the unsuccessful or unwanted production ends up in the landfill. In addition, the objects produced will be added to the clutter of things already filling our space. With the current environmental crisis, we should be heading towards a reduction approach. Unfortunately, capitalists worry less about the future of Earth and more about filling their pockets through mass production. Furthermore, 3D printing consumes so much energy and takes time to produce. The high costs of the 3D printing, defies the affordability purpose of mass production. All this has made me raise the questions: are failed projects recyclable? Is there a depository and specific instructions on where to take the unwanted used material? What is the impact of certain material that produce harmful emissionsand toxic fumes on our health and the environment? Is 3D printing replacing creativity and craftsmanship and the hand-made, where craftsmen are being pushed further and further away, devaluing the authentic and handmade and increasing the rate of unemployment?

Challenges: The biggest challenge that made my objects impossible to achieve in this process was the technical skill in computer software. Before I join the Digital Fabrication course, I heard of the possibility of 3D printing from a scanned image. I thought scanning is as easy as taking shots of an object of multiple angles. Later, I realized that an object has to go through a specialized 3D scanner. Following an inquiry at the rapid prototype centre at OCADU, I was informed that it is not possible to scan body parts on the scanner available there. To be honest, I panicked for a while and was considering dropping off the course. Thanks to the reassurance of Erica Charbonneau, I decided to experiment with the basic 3D programs that she has demonstrated, like Tinkercad and Fusion 360.


The other challenge was that my design needed 26 hours to print. That was shocking to me, but I was able to reduce the hours into 14, seven then three hours by adjusting the specifications like reducing the size, filling and details of the figures. My original intention was that the figures were bigger and a bit more detailed, but I had to compromise and take into consideration the fact that only two printers were available, with about twenty students who need to print their objects as well.

When the printing began, there were some concerns as the printer failed and stopped a few times. The filament dispensing kept being interrupted and I had to restart several times.

In conclusion, I can say that the entire process was both thoughtful and creative. It was also a combination of challenges, successes and failures. It is quite successful in terms of experimenting with the material, concept and the process of 3D Printing to materialize digital designs. I am intrigued anddeterment to learn using the 3D software in the future so I can create designs that serve my themes and projects.



White PLA 1.75 Filament

Acrylic paint

Taz Lulzbot 6

Cura for Lulzbot

Lulz bot Taz 6 3D Printer









Impossible Artifacts: 3D Printing the Past

“Objects [Artifacts] need symbolic framings, storylines, human spokespersons in order to acquire social lives; social relationships and practices in turn need to be materially grounded in order to gain temporal and spatial endurance (Pels et al, 2002, p. 11).”

Inspiration for 3D Printed Artifact.
Antique Window Sill in Azanian Style
Final 3D Print Replica of Artifact of Wooden Carved Window Sill in Somali/Azanian style.
Final 3D Print Replica of Artifact of Wooden Carved Window Sill in Somali/Azanian style.

 Design Concept /Objective 

With this project I wanted to explore the process of taking artifacts and bring them into the tangible world. What would happen when the historical or cultural meaning and context is gone where does authenticity and trinketism land?  I was inspired by the the Critical Making Lab and the work they did with the AGO to make accessible objects that visually impaired patrons could interact with and touch. I wanted to conceptualize this project that is using this technology that is supposed to herald a new wave of personal manufacturing, what and why do we print things and what is worth printing? 

The impossibility of the object I decided to 3D Print was the fact that it was not to meant to survive to be seen. The window sill is only a few objects that has survived that showcases the artwork and craft of Somali woodcarving. Due to the medium, over time these artifacts eroded and because of the  devaluing of African/Black Art restoration of these design were also not a priority. Questions of archiving, symbolism, meaning making and authenticity come up. 

Print from Critical Making Lab in Resin and My Design in PLA differences in quality of 3D printing technologies
Print from Critical Making Lab in Resin and My Design in PLA differences in quality of 3D printing technologies


The main challenges for me was trying to translate as much of the detail of the artifact to print.  I wanted to try and recreate the window sill through Fusion 360 but was a hard time get the shapes that I wanted so it was suggested to me to start in Illustrator and that brining it into TinkerCAD I could  convert SVG files to STL files for printing.   When first initially brought the SVG file into TinkerCAD some of the design wasn’t visible I had to go back and forth inside illustrator and TinkerCAD to make sure the design were visible in 3D.  

Recreating object in Illustrator.
Recreating object in Illustrator.

My intended result was I wanted to try and make the design a functional design where you could open up the window sill and put hinges or connectors.  I would have liked more  time and technical skill to execute the intended design in the next iteration.

Iterative Design Process

The design process was straightforward to begin I first sketched out the line drawing in illustrator to get as much detail and shape as I could. Then once the design was finalized in Illustrator I brought it into TinkerCAD and adjusted as needed.

How the initial Illustrator looked in TinkerCAD. Had to go back in Illustrator to fix the line work for it ot be legible to TinkerCAD.
How the initial Illustrator looked in TinkerCAD. Had to go back in Illustrator to fix the line work for it to be legible to TinkerCAD.
Imported Illustrator SVG file in TinkerCAD
Imported Illustrator SVG file in TinkerCAD
Using Cura to slice
Using Cura to slice
Printing design in Ultimaker 3
Printing design in Ultimaker 3
    • Illustrator
    • Cura 
    • Ultimaker 3
    • PLA Pink Filament


Pels, D., Heatherington, K. & Vandenberghe, F. (2002). The status of the object. Theory, Culture & Society, 19(5/6), 1-21.

Reisinger, Y., & Steiner, C. 2006. “Reconceptualizing Object Authenticity.” Annals of Tourism Research 33 (1): 65-86.

Ratto, M. (2011). Critical Making: conceptual and material studies in technology and social life. Manuscript submitted for publication.


Topographic Map and Eroding John A MacDonald

Design Concept:

I took this class to aid in moving forward my practice led thesis, so my design process was largely dictated by creating small scale prototypes for my thesis and exploring what possibilities 3D printing might offer in terms of sculptural outputs. Fortunately for me, I think a bust of John A MacDonald eroding away into the ether is currently considered a pretty impossible object, unfortunately for those that are pro decolonization.



To familiarize myself with the 3D printing process and experiment with at least one 3D rendering software.

Iterative Design Process:

As I had two ideas I wanted to prototype, I decided to attempt both.

Topographical Map: I wanted to make a small version of a topographic map of Ontario that I plan to make wall size. I knew that this would be more a small testing of how what size of ridges, etc, looked and research into how to actually find the data and generate a 3D print from it. After speaking with Darrell in Rapid Prototyping, I figured the final piece would end up being CNC milled wood or foam, but that a file I created for 3D printing should theoretically, be able to be CNC milled later. This also would allow me to continue to iterate into any later CNC based class assignments.

In terms of design for the map, it was more a case of doing online research into various topographic mapping tools, which eventually lead me to:


and http://touchterrain.geol.iastate.edu/


It was really difficult to find a topographic map that I could scale to print a large swath of the province and not lose the ability to produce vertical detail. With most, like Terrain 2 STL, if you wanted to convert a popular U.S. city or smaller area, it was relatively simple, but if you applied the same method to say NorthWestern Ontario, the point of view was so far away, any topographic detail was impossible to see.

I briefly played with the idea of creating a topographic “look” myself and using it as I’m doing an MFA so facts aren’t necessarily a top priority, but I knew there should be a way to do this and it was important to me that I  accurately portray reality for this project.

In the end, Touch Terrain provided me with exactly what I was looking for. It is literally a web tool for creating 3D printable models.

It allows you to select an area of the world and export a file with customised: tile sizes, extruder widths, model base thickness and Z scaling.

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Once I created an STL that suited my purposes I printed it via Cura and spray painted it white.




Iterative Design Process:

John A: After flipping through Digital Handmade: Craftsmanship in the New Industrial Revolution I became convinced that it might be possible to 3D print a bust that appears to be windswept/eroding from the back of the head and shoulders. I had hesitated on trying to produce this work previously as I wasn’t sure how I might prep the file for CNC milling due to the varied organic shapes and undercuts, and I was concerned about resolution/detail and the supports that would be required to 3D print it. This class and the potential for feedback in terms of process and resources provided the perfect prompt to experiment.

To produce the 3D file of John A MacDonald, I used photogrammetry with images of a statue of him that I had collected in the fall of 2018.

Using Agisoft Photoscan, I rendered the multiple photos in a many-step process that created a dense point cloud and then a 3D mesh. I then exported that file into Blender and later Meshmixer.

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I deleted the back of the bust’s head and shoulders, using the rough edges left behind as points to pull on and distort with Meshmixers “drag” brush in sculpt mode.



  • I forgot how to use Blender since the last set of tutorials I had followed in late December.
  • The distortions I created were often very thin and jutting out of the bust without any support.
  • Each time I moved something on the statue I essentially thinned the volume in that area.
  • The first print failed as I had just exported an STL of a model that was only surfaces, hoping I could adjust the wall thickness in Cura. But Cura didn’t seem to like this and the print failed.
  • Once I did create a solid, Meshmixer filled the back of the head and shoulders back in, undoing all of my previous work and created a look that wasn’t useful for my project.


Iterative Workarounds:

I tried a lot of different sculpt modes and settings for the solid, including starting again from the raw cut out file, pre-distortion, but nothing really worked.



In the end, the best solution I found for the second attempt at printing this scuplture was to convert it to a solid and then pinch and drag the areas that had filled back in until they were smaller and less noticeable, then I re dragged out the edges for the distorted windswept look I was trying to achieve. I then added my own support shaft in the bottom centre of the bust, pictured below.

I then gesso’d and spray painted the bust to try and fill in any weak areas in the print (there was many).




Moving Forward, Possible Solutions:

In hindsight, it now occurs to me that I could probably convert the bust to a solid BEFORE cutting away the back of its head and shoulders and editing the facial structure. That might avoid the “thinning out” I was getting when I made changes to the face, and it would avoid the low poly looking fill that mesh mixer insisted on adding to the rear of the sculpture.

This could still prove problematic, however, since my original file had some holes and ragged edges.

Ideally, I’d like to find a way to keep the bust hollow and just assign a thickness to the surfaces as I really enjoy being able to look into the back of its head and see the facial outlines that I got via the Agfa Photoscan render.

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Relevant research

How to repair corrupted 3D models for printing





Software Used:

Agisoft Photoscan, Blender, Meshmixer, Fusion (when all else failed, it did too), Touchterrain, Cura.



White and red PLA

Taz Lulzbot 6



Sweet Technology

Sweet Technology
bekky O’Neil


Explanation of the Design Concept

Initially I had a explosion of ideas for how this technology could apply to animation.  I had lofty goals of modelling a character, or scanning a model, manipulating it and printing out the versions to create a soft of 3D Printed zoetrope (still on the to do list, I’ve been working on ceramic zoetropes).  I also love the idea of using 3D printed faces in stop motion animation, but it occurred to me tat as a complete newcomer to 3D modelling perhaps I should be thinking in terms of a single object rather than multiples in a series.

My first idea for an impossible object was to play with complex geometry and to continue my mission of playing with the space between art and agriculture by creating a möbius strip out of a honeycomb.

Finally, in realizing I did not have the modelling skill nor the understanding of the correct software to do this, I decided to find a balance between my initial ida impulses by building characters that could later be manipulated to move around a geometric setting.

The result is a honeycomb with bees on it.  I like that the ability to model a honeycomb suggests I could in the future use 3D printing to create abnormal hive structures for my bees (we keep bees on the farm – art installation ideas!).
bekkys_bees_02bekkys_bees_04 bekkys_bees_03  bekkys_bees_01


My objective was to learn how to model in 3D, and if it is something I enjoy.  3D modelling is considered to be a pretty key skill in my field, albeit one I have until now avoided.  I am interested in the meeting and melding of digital and analog technologies, so the idea that I could take what felt like a theoretical design and output it into a physical object was pretty magical, and echoes much of my 2d animation workflow.



This is the question I asked myself about a million times.  Feeling like I had access to a technology that would allow me to make whatever could be imagined and only being limited by my ability felt a bit like being given the controls to an amazing video game but constantly being stuck in a corner since I suck at steering.  Fortunately I have learned that with practice I get better at digitally interfacing, so I hope the same can be true for modelling..

I am also interested in 3D scanning technology, as I love working with clay for iterative work.

The bees’ wings were a particular area of concern for the printout – but instead of remodeling them to lie flat on the bees back, I thought I would try supports and see how it turned out.

I was hoping to do my preliminary print at the Northumberland Makers space in Cobourg which just opened last June, since I live out of the city.

I went for a visit and was surprised and excited by the new access to resources in my moderately remote community – but sadly not terribly surprised by their lack of available hours.  I found out the 3D printers they have are Prusas, and according to the president of the space are roughly $800 machines (he placed the Lulzbot at about 3k – I haven’t double checked this), which did make me inclined to test print at OCAD while I have access to these resources.

Online Listing for Prusa:


I do think I’ll definitely be using this makerspace for future projects, with a reasonable membership fee, and plus ++++ I got to handle some of the wood and copper filament while I was there.  Definitely want to dive in to that.

Other challenges include being an idiot and forgetting my computer charger in the back of the class – which I did not realize until I was on the train home, effectively leaving me without a computer for a week.  I would have liked to continue to develop my model in fusion, and may still do so.

Intended Result vs. Actual Result


Photos of Impossible Object (both the digital 3D model and material object)

sweet_technology_01  sweet_technology_03 sweet_technology_02sweet_technology_07sweet_technology_06 sweet_technology_05sweet_technology_04

Tools & Materials used

Maya (diving in and jumping out)
I loved playing in Maya, but really only lasted as long as my partner was willing to sit and watch over my shoulder.  Definitely going to play more in the future but was happy to get my feet wet and the feel like Tinkercad was a breeze!

Cura for Lulzbot

For finishing I intend on working with acrylic gouache to paint the surface, and maybe play with encaustic beeswax painting as well.

An explanation of the iterative design process


Moving forward I want to play wit accuracy in scale.

Relevant research

Flow hive – one of the first things that got me interested in the accessibility of beekeeping (which isn’t the direction we went in with our bees….) as it turns out is 3d printed!

3D Printed Honeycombs Allow Beekeepers to Get Honey “On Tap” — Over $12 Million Raised on Indiegogo

More 3d Printed honeycomb ideas:

3D Printed Honeycomb Saves Bees Time and Energy

On 3D Printed Zoetropes:



Nautilus Shell

Design Concept


The first time I read the term impossible objects, I immediately thought of nature and the huge variety of different shapes and forms that would be almost impossible to replicate by hand. However, with the help of 3D design software and 3D printing, we are able to replicate even the most complex forms. So, I wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate one of nature’s most beautiful forms, the nautilus shell.


The objective of this assignment for me was to introduce myself to 3D design software. I come from a purely 2D background and working with 3D for the first time was challenging at first. In addition to that, this was also the first time I work through the process of preparing and performing a 3D print. So, my main objective for this assignment was to familiarize myself with the software and the hardware.

Learn a 3D design software
For this assignment, I decided to use SketchUp. Although it has some issues with file formatting and surface rendering, I found it to be user-friendly enough for me to understand and advanced enough to handle my design, which I wasn’t sure TinkerCad could. I used a few resources online to learn the new software, the rest was straight forward and pretty simple. In addition to that, SketchUp allows users to install extensions and plugins, which I was able to utilize in my design. This allowed me to start with design and now spend too much time learning new software.  

Create a 3D object from scratch
Creating a 3D object on a digital program was more challenging than I expected. First, I had to understand how lines and shapes interact with each other and how they change depending on what settings are set. Also, I had to constantly re-orient myself while toggling between different cameras and 3 different axes.  

Prepare a file and perform a successful 3D print
My understanding of 3D printing before this assignment was completely different from my experience. I learned that 3D printing allows us to quickly create complex objects, however, still requires some knowledge of materials, a technique for post-print, and enough technical skill to modify printer settings to achieve the best results. My first attempt at printing my object failed because the printer temperature settings were suddenly changed and the nozzle stopped dispensing any plastic. However, for my second attempt, I monitored the temperature settings carefully and made sure that the temperature never went below 200 degrees, which meant the print went through smoothly.

Working with Cura was smooth and easy, the interface of the software is very friendly, which ensures a short learning curve. I was able to figure out how to use Cura quickly and without any complications. The interface is cleverly designed to show you how big the object will be on the bed and where will all the support material go in order to perform the print correctly. I really enjoyed working on Cura.

Deciding how to place the object on the bed was also a new concept for me but once I understood the difference and experimented with every possible orientation, I decided to go with the quickest possible approach, which is to place the object vertically upwards, which meant that it needed some support but that also cut the printing time by almost 20 minutes.


Since this was a completely new experience for me, almost every major step in it was a challenge. My first and biggest challenge was to learn Fusion360 in a short period of time. I attempted to explore the software and try to create my design in Fusion, however, I was intimidated by its complexity and after a few days trying to figure it out through tutorials, eventually, I decided to use different software and continue exploring Fusion for future projects.

After figuring out the software and completed drawing the object, it was to print. Even though we had a quick workshop on the process of 3D printing, once I uploaded the file and sat down in front of the printer, I still felt a little confused about this machine works. So, I decided to familiarize myself a little more through a few videos of what expect and what to avoid.

The last challenge was the post-print process. I was able to pick up the object from the bed easily with no issues, however, while trying to remove the support material it damaged some of the objects walls. It is unclear to me what caused this, but eventually, I decided to keep the support material on in order to avoid damaging the object completely.

Intended vs Actual Result

In general, I’m satisfied with the results of this experiment. Although I couldn’t learn Fusion360 fast enough and the support material did cause some damage to the shell, I still managed to achieve my personal goals for this experiment. As far as the object is concerned, my original idea was to create this shell in big enough scale to fit a mobile phone inside, which would create a natural audio amplifier for mobile phones. However, the would’ve meant that the object would be too big to print on our printers and consume too much time and material. So, I decided to print out a miniature version that consumed too much material and about 1.2 hours to print.

In addition to that, my idea was to create the shell completely hollow on the inside, which is essential for acoustics, but while watching the machine print, I quickly realized how difficult it would be to make it hollow on the inside with the design I made. So, for the second version of this object, I will consider other printing methods that would allow me to clean the inside of the shell and make sure its hollow, one option would be to create the shell in two halves and glue them together once ready.

Photos of the Nautilus Shell 


Tools & Materials Used

As mentioned before, for time-efficiency purposes, I decided to use SketchUp to draw and construct the shell. I used a high-resolution image of the shell and traced in illustrator, then SketchUp to construct the form. Also, I used 2 different plugins for SketchUp, which were essential for me to be able to complete in time, “Curviloft” & “JointPush/Pull”, both by Fredo6.

On the print side, I used Cura for file preparation, Taz6 for a printer, and PLA black filament.

Explanation of the Iterative Design Process

After tracing a 2D image of the shell, I then created the curves, which is essential for the shape of the shell
After tracing a 2D image of the shell, I then created the curves, which is essential for the shape of the shell
After finishing the lines, I used a SketchUp plugin that allowed me to create surfaces from the lines I already drew
After finishing the lines, I used a SketchUp plugin that allowed me to create surfaces from the lines I already drew
After SketchUp, I moved the object into Fusion360 in order to view and tweak the object if necessary
After SketchUp, I moved the object into Fusion360 in order to view and tweak the object if necessary


Cura allowed me to see how big my object will be on the bed, how long it will take, the paths the nozzle will take and the support material that the machine will build to avoid overhangs
Cura allowed me to see how big my object will be on the bed, how long it will take, the paths the nozzle will take and the support material that the machine will build to avoid overhangs


  1. Hod Lipson, Melba Kurman, Fabricated: The New World of 3D, John Wiley & Sons Inc. Indiana, 2013
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsbdVGN0Hf0
  3. “Gnomonic Growth of the Nautilus.” GeoGebra. Last modified December 1, 2016. https://www.geogebra.org/m/waR6eVCQ

  4. Westermann B , et al. “Shell Growth and Chamber Formation of Aquarium-reared Nautilus Pompilius (Mollusca, Cephalopoda) by X-ray Analysis. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. Accessed January 21, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15562500.


Versa Bot

Project title: Versa Bot


Design Concept:

Through the exploration of basic mechanical components and printed hardware this object was developed based on a new iteration of 1960’s robot pop art. This 3D print is also an homage to the first cylindrical robot installed at the Ford factory in Canton, Ohio in 1962. Inside the robot is an assembly of 2 spindles attached to a motor that initiates movements in the arms of the robot. This was an investigation into working with individual components and how they fit together to function as a whole. Although this is not a versa cylindrical robotic arm it is an investigation into designing a 3D print for electric and moving parts.





This 3d print is mechanical, and can be installed with a small motor to turn the robotic arms. The original design had a robot shell fitting over a rotating cylinder. My intention was to design something that could move and possibly have the capability for fitted circuitry. The ideation was to create a small 3D print that could be added to electronically to better understand the foundational development process in designing 3D models that move.

screen-shot-2019-01-21-at-12-29-24-pm screen-shot-2019-01-21-at-12-29-46-pm screen-shot-2019-01-21-at-12-29-14-pm


Design Process:

In the initial formative project ideation my first step was to do some research in regards to objects with mechanical aspects. While thinking about how I wanted to form this project I knew I really wanted to learn about how to 3D print working mechanical parts . Going through the process of how to discern if the extraction you have made from a pre existing shape is able to line up with the moving aspects of the design, and how that translates into defining your file. In Tinkercad I made use of the tutorials and lessons to expand on their assembly design for a toy. I thought this would be a good initial investigation into 3D printing software as a first build.


While working within Tinkercad and going through their documentation I decided to work with their basic assembly parts. This helped me form my concept and gave me a foundation to start thinking about my design and what couldbe feasible and how I wanted to change the movement and reconfigure the parts.

I then did more research into cutting out complex shapes from a primary object and aligning them so they will fit together properly, this helped form my initial sketch in Tinkercad that developed into my final design. Through some image sleuthing I started to look at older ideation of what the concept of a robot use to be. I thought it would be interesting to recreate this idea in newer technology.


Working with 2 different types of filament created varied results in the finish of the 3D object. The thicker filament created a sturdier structure with a surface that is still textured but has less differentiation creating a smoother result of the outside shell. Forming the robot as a solid shape then lining up the outer component to fit
over the turning mechanism required further investigation. Using the rule of at least 1mm thickness when extracting the heart shape to create an indent was another mire; when creating a boundary thick enough that when printed maintained it’s integrity was difficult. Even at 1.5mm thick this indentation didn’t print the shape very clearly. In the second version of the 3D print when incorporating the thicker filament the support plastic was quite strong and extremely hard to tear away at. Even though I was printing with a fill of only 25% the finished design had small details that dissolved into the support structure created by the printer.


Intended Result vs. Actual Result:
During the first test print the percentage of fill was 10%. in regards to the stability of the overall structure the 10% print was most time effective but didn’t ellicit the intended result. The filament was thinner than the original recommended material. But since I had followed the requirements of all surfaces being over 1mm thick my hypothesis is that it would be enough to create the robot structure. The 1.75mm did print with some the accuracy, there was some detail lost but what was interesting was the semi – flexible way it printed. It would be interesting to print with a more flexible kinetic plastic and get more movement

Tools & Materials used:

Lulz bot Taz 6 3D Printer

Tinkercad software

CURA software

Design Process:

In the initial formative project ideation my first step was to do some research in regards to objects with mechanical aspects. While thinking about how I wanted to form this project I knew I really wanted to learn about how to 3D print working mechanical parts . Going through the process of how to discern if the extraction you have made from a pre existing shape is able to line up with the moving aspects of the design, and how that translates into defining your file. In Tinkercad I made use of the tutorials and lessons to expand on their assembly design for a toy. I thought this would be a good initial investigation into 3D printing software as a first build.

While working within Tinkercad and going through their documentation I decided to work with their basic assembly parts. This helped me form my concept and gave me a foundation to start thinking about my design and what couldbe feasible and how I wanted to change the movement and reconfigure the parts.

I then did more research into cutting out complex shapes from a primary object and aligning them so they will fit together properly, this helped form my initial sketch in Tinkercad that developed into my final design. Through some image sleuthing I started to look at older ideation of what the concept of a robot use to be. I thought it would be interesting to recreate this idea in newer technology.

Relevant research:


ATP Synthase

ATP Synthase


As a tribute to my undergraduate degree in Microbiology & Immunology, I’ve chosen to model by 3D Printing one of the wonders of the molecular world, the enzyme, ATP Synthase. The scientific community is capable of describing functionality and form of things through text and occasionally material is supplemented with an illustration, but I felt it was a great opportunity to design an important piece of my academic history into physical form.

ATP Synthase is complex of proteins found embedded in the membranes of mitochondria in cells. The mitochondria in particular, being the powerhouse of the cell where the majority of ATP that powers our cellular processes is created. The ATP Synthase functions as the molecular motor by using the proton gradient between the inner and outer membranes and allowing H+ ions to be passed through the complex to allow the formation of ATP to occur– effectively generating energy to be used later within the cell.

Design Concept

Although this project does not intend to make a functional rotating object, it aims to recreate the shape and form of the molecular complex, ATP Synthase. The structural units that make up the final build are inspired by the scientific visual nomenclature for molecular structure that typically consist of interconnected spheres (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: H2O molecule as represented by connected spheres for each atom and molecular bond.

The visual standard for protein subunits is as follows (see Figure 2), a long spiraled filament loosely connected to other intersected subunits of varying lengths and orientation. Although the form is interesting and should warrant exploration at a further date, I recognized that attempting to create this form via a 3D printer as my first attempt printing something would most likely lead to issues, thus I opted to use the simple spherical molecular form mentioned above.

Figure 2: Example of protein subunits together forming a protein complex.

TinkerCAD was used to construct the model as after experimenting with Fusion and SketchUp I found its interface to be the easiest to use when moving and rotating models. To begin, I created some of the basic structural units as demonstrated below (see Figure 3) that would later be interconnected as a sort of mosaic form that makeup the entirety of the protein structure.

Figure 3: Basic Molecular subunits sketched out of spheres in TinkerCAD.


My objectives for this project include successfully making a model with a form that is representative of an ATP Synthase. Although I cannot expect 100% accuracy, I hope to be able to use the basic structural units of a molecule as characterized by interconnected spheres above to distinctively represent the many subunits of the protein complex.

I hope to be able to model my first complex shape via TinkerCAD, as well as have an opportunity to experiment with 3D printing. I recognize that designers require a certain degree of literacy between 3D modeling and printing and that there needs to be an understanding of what possible issues could arise due to a model’s shape so that the process can be streamlined without any setbacks.

Finally, I hope to receive feedback that can help me further improve upon my learnings through this experiment.


In order to introduce certain shapes and forms using the aforementioned spherical subunits, a considerable amount of shapes had to be generated within TinkerCAD. Although I was able to make the top 6 subunits without any challenges, after creating the larger bottom half of the complex I ran into several issues.

At that point, my sketch had over 6000 shapes (see Figure 4). I did not anticipate that TinkerCAD’s cloud service would not be able to handle such a complex drawing. At this point the browser and computer would freeze upon loading the object. I opted to use one of the high performance computers at OCAD to finish my sketch. Unfortunately, this was not the end of my issues as TinkerCAD was unable to export my sketch into a .stl file because of its size.

Figure 4: The Finished ATP Synthase Sketch, with over 6000 shapes altogether.

To troubleshoot this issue, I did some reading online and found another user who ran into a similar issue with exporting a complex sketch, the support expert on TinkerCAD’s site suggested that my shapes should be first un-grouped and then regrouped together as one. I went ahead and un-grouped my shapes but unfortunately each time I tried to group them together again the browser timed out (I tried on several different computers with to no avail.)

Figure 5: The White Screen of Death, as TinkerCAD Timed Out.

As a final attempt I deleted half of the sketch and tried to export each cross section individually. Unfortunately, the page timed out again and rendered me unable to revert to my previous design status as the undo function only works within the current session.

This is obviously the biggest flaw with web-based software, fortunately I was able to print an earlier version that I had exported. Although incomplete, I am still happy that I have something to show for my process and work.

Intended Result vs. Actual Result

The intended result was a complete ATP Synthase complex; however, because of the difficulties exporting the entire sketch, the actual result was only the C-ring proteins (6 subunits grouped together in a ring). Nonetheless, I am very happy with the results. It was my goal to use the shapes of interconnected spheres to distinctly represent each subunit protein of the complex. I believe I accomplished this with the small sample I was able to make.



 picture2 picture3


Tools and Materials

  • Sketchbook
  • Pencil
  • TinkerCAD
  • Cura for Lulzbot
  • PLA 1.75 Silver Filament

Iterative Design Process

The design process was fairly simple, to begin I first sketched out the proposed shape of each molecular subunit so I knew how I was going to build it in the software, TinkerCAD. As described above I used simple molecular subunits and would rotate them and duplicate them natively inside of TinkerCAD to make my desire shapes and forms. Because the ATP Synthase is made up of only 3 unique subunits, after making them, all I had left to do was reorganize them into the desired shape I wanted.

Figure 6: Rough Sketch of the ATP Synthase Protein Subunits.

I was fortunate enough that my first attempt printing I had the right settings and supports in place for it to print without fault. After my support ticket is answered by TinkerCAD’s staff I hope to be able to print the other half of my project

Research and References

Protein Data Bank. (2005, December). PDB101: Molecule of the Month: ATP Synthase. Retrieved from https://pdb101.rcsb.org/motm/72

TinkerCAD. (n.d.). TinkerCAD Support. Retrieved from https://tinkercad.zendesk.com/hc/en-us

Wikipedia. (2018, June 19). Protein subunit. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protein_subunit

Star Lantern Jewllery Box Set: Explorations with TinkerCad and 3D printing

Design Concept

My star themed accessory box set comprises of impossible objects that can only be fabricated through the makings of 3D printing. As I continued my design from experimental to specific, I ended up with a star themed jewellery box set with a special charm. One of the boxes acts as a lantern so owners can add their special trinkets and accessories immersed in light.

Figure 1. The completed star themed jewellery box set.

Iterative Design Process

My experimentation in Tinkercad lead me to design a mini jewellery set that surrounded the theme of stars. Tinkercad’s interface was a simple, quick prototyping online tool that got me started with basic primitive shapes and allow me to create a range of simple to complex objects effectively. I personally enjoyed using its interface and was surprised how quickly familiarized I became with it after the first half hour.

Figure 2. First standard star box iteration set

I started playing around with the shapes and started making boxes. The first box you see above in figure 2 is my first star shaped box. In this design, the octagon prism’s height is slightly taller than the final and it has star shape imprints on three of its sides. In contrast, there are three popped-out stars on the remaining sides. I also managed to create a lid for it using Tinkercad’s manipulation tools such as the hole tool to make box transparent. I also used the estimation of what my eye saw to measure how wide the lid’s side lengths should be so it could fit inside the box perfectly.

Inspiration and Reasearch

Conceptually, my design began to centre around the idea of stars when I first saw the star shapes in Tinkercad. I later inspired by Erica Charbonneau’s star wand model used for the alternate Digital Graffiti Colouring book by MakeLab for the Children’s Wish Foundation Princess and Superhero event.

Figure 3. Charbonneau’s 3D printed wands.
Figure 4. Charbonneau’s final wand design.

The star shape itself was always something I loved to play with (because I love stars and space in general.) However, what intrigued me more was the star’s geometry and luckily Tinkercad had two different star shapes I could play and mess around with.

To my knowledge there are a lot of star themed novelty items out there already on online sites such as AliExpress but not many of them served to be a jewellery box that really incorporated that element that stars are known for: light. Later in my iterative design I wanted to somehow add light into this box set so after playing around a bit in Tinkercad I realized making star cut outs on the sides could act like windows that light could shine through.

My objective: Create a star cut out box that acted as a jewellery box but also as a lantern.

Figure 5. Solid star cluster being embedded in octagonal prism in Tinkercad.

I began with my second iteration: The star lantern jewellery box. I began using the other star shape in Tinkercad that differed from the first one I used in my previous design. Once I made a set of these stars on one side, I copied, pasted and rotated the star cluster on their respectful sides.

I then made the star clusters into holes with the hole button:

Figure 6. Star solids turned to holes in Tinkercad.
Figure 7. Star solids turned to holes in Tinkercad close up.

Once the holes were made I then added a single big star for the remaining sides:

Figure 8. Completed star lantern jewellery set with star cut outs and lid!

In my last design iteration I went back to my first model and made a few adjustments. I shrunk the prism so it be a shorter box. I also made a couple of star rings to complete the set! I thought it be cute.

Figure 9. Completed standard star box with lid and star ring accessories.

With both the star lantern and primary jewellery box completed, I was ready to send them off to CURA to be 3D printed.

Challenges During the Iteration Process

When designing the lids for these boxes I had to be precise with the centring of the lid’s seal. If it was too off the lid’s roof it would look off. If it was too wide, it would not fit into the box. I did not know a more precise way to do this except using the orthogonal view and align option to centre my shapes.

Figure 10. Using a variety of methods such as making the box a hole just to see how close the lid’s seal was touching the edge of the box to make sure the fit was close enough.
Figure 11. Using the align tool and orthogonal view to centre my shapes for the lid.

I also made another accessory in Tinkercad because I was having so much fun making star themed vanity items. It did not make it to print though because I became more interested in working on the boxes and lost interest. It was meant to be a crescent moon comb.

Figure 12. Unfinished star comb.

Digital Fabrication

With the models ready to be exported I had printed the star lantern jewellery box first and the second standard star box and rings second.

Figure 13. 3d export of the star lantern jewellery box in CURA.
Figure 14. 3d export of the standard star jewellery box in CURA.

I used the white filament available at OCADU’s maker’s lab. This filament was already placed on the machine, setup and ready to go. Therefore, I did not have to do a lot in terms of setup.

Figure 15. 3d print filament all set up and ready to go!

After little preliminary setup for the machine and exporting my files to the SD card, I was ready to print.

Figure 16. 3d print of the star lantern jewellery box underway!
Figure 17. 3d print of the standard star jewellery box!

The total time for both models ranged around 5 hours.

Intended Result vs Actual Result 

My alignments for the star lantern’s lid worked and fat perfectly but not so much for the other box. I had to go back and redo my calculations. I made another lid for it but due to the lack of materials I had to use a different filament.

Figure 18. Alternative 3d printing fillament for the new standard star box lid.
Figure 19. New standard star box lid being printed.

I had to replace the filament, set the nozzle temperature and deal with some clogging and un clogging until the filament finally started to melt and build my new  lid.

However this lid was not like my first. Not only did it look weaker due to the difference in material but the lid was now too lose. This is why being precise with Tinkercad was difficult. You could not check if the measurements of the prisms’ side lengths were longer than the lid so using other methods that lead to estimation instead of being precise were difficult.

I decided to leave both lids as is and began using the following tools to help me clean out the star cut outs for the star lantern jewellery box.


Photos of the Cleaning Process and Removing Excess Filament Rafts 

Tools and Items used for the Star Lantern Jewellery Box:

x1 MasterCraft flat head screw driver

x1 Exacto knife

x1 Pair of scissors

x1 Glue gun

x1 led

x1 battery

Tools used for the Standard Jewellery Box and Rings:

x1 Pair of scissors

One final step to complete the star lantern jewellery box was the light. I bought a tactile led button, its base and a battery from Creatron. I found some left over wires in my old physical computing box and attached the light to the bottom of the lid.

Figure 20. Tactile led (white) button attached to its base and a battery using wires.
Figure 24. Tactile led (white) button attached to its base and a battery using wires.

Final Thoughts

Figure 25. Completed star themed box jewellery set.

Thanks to Erica Charbonneau for teaching me how to use the Lulzbot TAZ 6. I had preliminary knowledge of 3D printing before this course from Ryerson University but I was only familiar with the Makerbot and had little idea of how to replace filament. OCADU’S Maker lab’s supervisor Reza was also useful in teaching me about certain settings such as heating the nozzle and what to do if the filament became jammed in the machine.

I learned a lot from this project both on the iterative design end and fabrication end. I was very pleased with the results and now I’m the proud owner of my very own star themed jewellery box set with the added charm!

Figure 26. Completed star themed box jewellery set in the dark.

Word Count: 1528.


MakerLab. “Transforming our Digital Graffiti Colouring Book with 3D Printed Magic. MakerLab. 17, April 2017. Web. 20, January 2019. https://www.makelab.ca/blog/transforming-our-digital-graffiti-colouring-book-with-3d-printed-magic 





3D Marketing



Design Concept:

3D Marketing is the exploration of the impossibles. It is about exploring the limits of 3D printing and finding out how to best use it in practices. The goal of the project is to design an “impossible” object and materialize it using 3D printing.

This project is an attempt at creating a low cost customized marketing object. The first idea that came to my mind was to create a rotating key chain. I make it a point to buy a customized key chain from all the places I visit. they are small, cheap, and easy to collect, plus you can always find them customised to fit the unique characteristics of all those places.

The impossibility in my case was the scale of the cuts required to create the object with hand. In addition to that, I needed to eliminate the need for any further process after printing.  Even though the product might not be impossible to be built, it requires high skills in order to be created.


My primary objective for this experience was to get a better understanding of what 3D printing can offer and identify its limits.

I wanted to materialize an object I could also make by hand, so I would know the extent of its difficulty. This would give me a more insightful knowledge on what kind of tasks are best fitted for 3D printing.

Another objective that was really important to me was to design and print an object that would require no further processing after being printed; an object that could be simply printed in large numbers and be used directly after being printed, as I believe that would increase the speed of my practices largely.


One of the most challenging parts of my design was the connection between the two pieces. I wanted the connections to be in a way that it would be impossible to take out the middle section without breaking the surrounding part. The problem was that the STL file only retains information about the visible surfaces in design. Therefore it was next to impossible to create a joint that could be printed while both pieces were in their correct positions, especially a joint that would be narrow and long enough so that the two parts would be inseparable. (This is further explained with an example from the early stages of design process in the next section.)

Another challenge was to create narrow piece holder for the center of letters that had no connections to the other parts of the design. Because of the small size of the design, in some cases the supporting line were to small for the printer to print them. I could not also reduce their thicknesses as it would be next to impossible to remove the support underneath them after they had been printed because of their small size. (The red line in the Thinkercad design file.)

Throughout the whole design, it was very difficult to find the accurate measurements to keep the balance between a precise and accurate design and something that the printer could print. In the different trials, I was trying to find the right size for both the two pieces that needed to fit inside one another and the ideal size for the pins that was supposed to connect the two pieces together.

Design Process:

For my very own personal keychain, I decided to convert my photography signature into a fancy rotatable keychain. To do that, I converted the picture I had into a vector SVG file using Adobe Illustrator. I was then able to import the design into Thinkercad.


The letters became the cutout pattern, and I added a square with round corner around the design so that I could use that as the letter “O” that holds the rest of the letters within it. Also, I had to add some additional lines in order to keep the centers of letters connected to the rest of the piece. I originally made their thickness smaller than the thickness of the rest of the letters, but after realizing how hard it would be to remove the extra support pieces from under the main piece, I decided to make them as thick as the rest of the letters. To make it a fully functional keychain, I added a semi-circle with a hole in the center to the top of the frame.


The only thing left to be added to the design was the joints between the two pieces. I originally wanted to make cylindrical poles attached to the “O” figure and make larger cylindrical holes in the middle piece to make sure the two pieces are inseparable and are well connected. But after taking the design to the Cura-lulzbot and running the simulations in layer view, I realized that the only the part of the pin outside of the middle part was being printed. After doing a little research, I found that the STL file did not keep the details of the cylinder poles that were connected to the “O” shape. STL files only keep the parts of the designs that are visible, the visible surfaces. In order to fix this issue, I had to come up with a joint connection that was visible enough so that its detail was kept in the STL file. This was the biggest challenge in all my design. I initially tried different sizes of cylinders, but none of them worked, it only started working after the holes were too big to hold the middle piece in its correct place. I decided to look at other people’s designs (More explanation in the research section). After inspiration from my research, I changed the shape of the poles from cylinders to small cones.


Below you can see the two pieces separately:


I was able to run a few trials to get to the final product. In the first trial, the connection between the two pieces was too small. The middle portion kept on falling out of the “O” figure piece. To fix that, I decided to increase the size of the middle portion so that it would better fit inside the other piece. In addition, I increased the length of the connections so that they would be deeper and make the separation between the two parts more difficult.


In the second trial, I decided to make the keychain smaller. I changed the size from 5 by 5 cm to 4 by 4 cm. In this trial, even though the middle piece was perfectly placed in the “O” figure piece, the smaller size caused some of the letters to break when I was trying to separate the print from the bottom plate. In addition, the pins were too small to hold the two pieces firmly together.


For the third trial, I decided to use the larger size for the center piece and go back to 5 by 5 cm. I even made the joints bigger to make sure that the middle piece would not fall out of its place.


Because of lack of time, I did not have the chance to run another trial, so I decided to finish working on the third trial. To make the design smoother I chose to use sand paper to get rid of all extra plastic bits on the keychain.

I then used black paint to colour the middle piece and gold spray paint to colour the “O” figure piece to make the final product more interesting.

Intended Result vs. Actual Result:

There are very small differences between the actual result and the intended result for this project. Given that this was my first attempt at 3D designing and 3D Printing, the keychain came out to be almost perfect.

The movement of the middle piece is not yet perfect, but I believe with one or two more trials the joint can become perfected.

The middle piece is still removable with a bit of extra force whereas the original intention was to create an object where the two parts were inseparable.

Another difference is in the details of the design. The 3D printed object required a lot of work to be perfected and cleaned. I had to sand down the two pieces and paint them to get a smooth touch.


To find out what is possible and what is impossible to do with 3D printing I look at designs at Thingverse and Yeggi. I looked at different keychain designs that people had created and used them as inspiration for my very own keychain.

Finding a solution for the joints was a difficult task. I need a joint connection that was strong but yet visible so that the printer would print it. An example that inspired me was the keychain design from Microsoft 3D Builder application. The model uses simple cone shape joints rather than cylindrical joint as their surface would be visible and the printer would be able to print it.


Tools and Materials:

You can find my designed object here: Design File

All the designs were done in Thinkercad and were printed by Lulzbot 6 printer. The full list of all components can be found here:


  • Tinkercad
  • Cura-lulzbot

3D Printing:

  • Lulzbot 6
  • PLA Black Plastic

Cleaning Tools:

  • Sand Paper
  • Black Spray Paint
  • Gold Spray Paint

Salt Ring

Salt Ring

by Olivia Prior

Figure 1: Salt Ring, a ring with a cavity to hold seasonings.
Figure 1: Salt Ring – a ring with a cavity to hold seasonings.

Salt Ring is an object for those who like flavour on the go. The ring stores your favourite spice in a compact simple storage unit that also operates as an accessory. When needed, easily take off the lid of the ring and flip your hand over to shake the seasoning onto the desired item. When finished, the lid snaps securely back onto the ring. The ring allows for discrete storage and use of the item. Rather than shuffling through your bag for chilli-flakes or nutritional yeast the user is able to manageably season their food without making a disruption. Salt Ring allows you to accessorize your food and your style.


With this project, I wanted to create an oddly bespoke item that could double as a wearable. I was eating at the time of brainstorming and thought that it would be nice to have some salt and pepper on my food. In the past, I’ve seen people carry hot sauce or other spices in their bag, but in my personal history, I easily lose things in my bags, or containers open and spill everywhere. I wanted to create an item that you could take with you anywhere and could be easily accessible. I chose the ring as the vessel because the action of turning your hand over was parallel to the action of seasoning

Figure 2: Salt Ring, back view, with the fitted lid offset in front.
Figure 2: Salt Ring, back view, with the fitted lid offset in front.

The method of printing that I was interested in was a “one-shot print” – printing everything in one go in one piece. I wanted the ring to be lightweight and easy to wear with minimal assembly required. I created a model that was hollow so that it could hold spice and be lightweight. The lid I modelled to fit snuggly on top of the seasoning holes.

Figure 3: Salt Ring model in development; this image shows the hallowed out insides of the ring.
Figure 3: Salt Ring model in development; this image shows the hollowed out insides of the ring.

As this was a prototype and my first time 3D printing, I did not want to spent time thinking about mechanical movements that would elevate my design to a finished product state (such as creating a funnel for a person to pour their seasoning into the ring, or thinking about a locking mechanism for the lid to have so that it does not accidentally open up). I wanted to make sure that I had the correct size and was working in the right direction before including those decisions into the process.

For the aesthetics of the ring, I wanted it to have a trendy minimalist look. The lid snaps in-line with the base of the ring and the seasoning container on top is angled into the ring. This is all to give an illusion of one uniform piece.



I chose to use Fusion 360 for this project. I had previous experience using Fusion for very rudimentary designs for a CNC machine. Upon revisiting Fusion and creating an item that was to be modelled for additive manufacturing rather than subtractive was a learning curve. Designing the model proved to have some interesting challenges such as, “how do I create an empty cavity to hold the seasoning?” and “how do I split a body easily?”. Fusion disguises itself with similar tools and UI to Google Sketch Up, but with much more complexity behind the scenes. As many learning curves go, I had to stop and restart my model many times over. Each restart came with a stronger familiarity and grasp of how the program works.

            Importing into Cura

Moving my model into Cura was challenging. Every time I imported my model I was surprised by how tiny the model was. It was so small that I could barely navigate around the staging space to manipulate the figure. The estimated print time for the file was “0 minutes.” I thought this was off but I attempted to load the print onto an SD card to try and print the model out. The printer would warm up, balance the plate, move to the center and move back saying the model was complete.

Figure 4: An screenshot form when I imported my incorrectly sized model into Cura.
Figure 4: An screenshot from when I imported my incorrectly sized model into Cura.

Upon further investigation, I realized that my model had been created in inches, rather than millimetres. This realization came after stepping away from the software then returning to the screen alarmed when the size of my model was “0.5mm” in width. An error messaged I had mistakenly ignored when importing the model displayed: “model maximized to 10000%.” I put the pieces together and changed my Fusion file to millimetres. This fixed the issue.

Incorrect sizing and modelling

I modelled the size of the ring after my own ring finger diameter. When I loaded the new millimetres print into Cura, the dimensions of my ring were roughly 80mm – that was far too large for a ring. I had taken the circumference of my finger and made the measurement the diameter instead. In Cura, I scaled everything down to 33% of the size. This worried me because of the hollow aspects I had incorporated into my design. Would the walls still hold if every measurement was scaled down to 33%?

Multiple attempts at printing      

A part of my design was to have the wider part of the seasoning container angled into the base of the ring to create the look of one piece. The holes for the seasoning were elevated and offset so that the lid would fit snugly with the rest of the ring. This left the issue: some parts were significantly more narrow and others wider. Any way that I could print the ring, I risk gravity affecting the print. I chose to print it initially “upside down” and at high quality. “Upside down” meaning the base of the seasoning container was the first thing to be printed, and that Cura would generate many supports for the circular ring part which would be the last thing to print.

Figure 5: I was playing around with which way to print the ring, as the angles were oddly set on the model, allowing for the only flat surface of the ring to be inset from the rest of the base.
Figure 5: I was playing around with which way to print the ring, as the angles were oddly set on the model, allowing for the only flat surface of the ring to be inset from the rest of the base.

This method proved to be fine, but my method of designing the ring to be hollow was a flaw. When I scaled down, the size of the walls ended up so thin and fragile that if seasoning were in the ring, it would easily come through the gaps in the walls.

I tried multiple more times. I did a complete print of the ring at 50% to see if that would work. I played around with the customized printing settings to see if printing in concentric squares rather than lines would make a difference. I even changed the aspect ratio of my model in an attempt to see if that would strengthen the walls. Nothing really changed the outcome of my print except for the size of the model.

Figure 6: Attempting to print the model on it's side rather than from vertically to see if a better print would be producted.
Figure 6: Attempting to print the model on its side rather than from vertically to see if a better print would be produced.
Figure 8: An attempt at adjusting the custom settings, and altering the aspect ratio of the model to make for a stronger print. This failed by only printing the edges of the ring wall, and only completed 3/4 walls of the seasoning container.
Figure 7: An attempt at adjusting the custom settings, and altering the aspect ratio of the model to make for a stronger print. This failed by only printing the edges of the ring wall, and only completed 3/4 walls of the seasoning container.


Intended Outcome vs. Actual Outcome  

I had envisioned having a refined solid ring that would be functional. After many iterations of my print, this did not seem to be possible with my current model. My actual outcome was spindly and fine.

Figure 7: Failed test prints of the Salt Ring
Figure 8: Failed test prints of the Salt Ring; the prints initially were too thin and spindly
Figure 8: A full print of the Salt Ring, spindly and Fine
Figure 9: A full print of the Salt Ring, spindly and fine; also note that the lid fits and “snaps” onto the inset seasoning opening which is a success.

Things that came out as intended for this print:

  • Shape
  • Aesthetics
  • Lid that works

Things that came out unintended

  • Size
  • Material
  • Quality

While this idea was playful and gave me a chance to learn more about 3D modelling, I was disappointed with my print. I could not get the settings in Cura to align with my intentions.

Photos of Impossible Objects

Figure 8: The two finished versions of the Salt Ring
Figure 10: The two finished versions of the Salt Ring (both have the lid on).
Figure 9: The Salt Ring with the lid off.
Figure 11: The Salt Ring with the lid off.

Tools & Materials Used

  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Measuring Tape
  • Fusion 360
  • Cura for Lulzbot
  • PLA 1.75mm white Filament

Iterative Design Process  

            I iterated thoroughly on the model and the printing settings. I flipped through multiple designs for the model, considering how the cavity would sit and how the opening would be covered. I drew out the process multiple times so that I had a strong understanding; I found it difficult to “sketch” it within Fusion, so my drawing proved to be my base understanding of what I was intending to achieve.

Figure 10: Initial sketches for Salt Ring
Figure 12: Initial sketches for Salt Ring
Figure: An attempt at sketching my model in fusion to determine how I wanted the form to be actualized. As well, this was in my initial return to Fusion. The design was discarded and the process restarted.
Figure 13: An attempt at sketching my model in Fusion to determine how I wanted the form to be actualized. As well, this was in my initial return to Fusion. The design was discarded and the process restarted.

After my sizing and printing challenges, I decided to try one last attempt at printing out my impossible object but with a different model. This time I chose to make the walls fully filled and for the ring pieces to be detached, then assembled after printing. This print was improved, except there were still issues with the issues with the sizing and materials. I learned that the material available was incorrect for this machine and was producing very fine and spindly prints. Knowing this, my initial design may have worked regardless of the sizing issue, or perhaps there could have been a setting I would be able to change in the future.

Figure 11: New model of the Salt Ring with all of the components detached to experiment if this type of model will produce a cleaner print.
Figure 14: New model of the Salt Ring with all of the components detached to experiment if this type of model will produce a cleaner print.
Figure 12: The printed product of the detached pieces. The walls and details are still too fine and spindly, which did not evenly closely produce an even surface on any of the pieces.
Figure 15: The printed product of the detached pieces. The walls and details are still too fine and spindly, which did not evenly closely produce an even surface on any of the pieces.

It was hard to see the differences in the printing settings for such a small item. I did multiple incomplete prints, stopping once I saw that the settings I had chosen were not working. The differences between wall thicknesses, gradual fill, and base layer thickness did not seem to make a significant difference. For my design, the only customized printing setting that made a difference was the generated supports for the loop of my ring. I did two prints one with, and one without. Neither collapsed, but the one with the generated supports had a “nicer” finish at the top.

Figure 10: The printer manufacturing the ring with supports that were generated in Cura.
Figure 16: The printer manufacturing the ring with supports that were generated in Cura.

Overall, this was a great learning experience for understanding how to model for 3D prints. I am interested in seeing how different materials could change the outcome of my designed model, and ultimately work towards a working product with this ring. In the meantime, I’ll be stuck with traditional seasoning mechanisms that lack in subtlety and style.

Research & References 

3D printed “Cat Ring”

3D printed “Acorn Salt & Pepper Shaker” 

3D printed “Keychain Pill Box”

Designed “Salt & Pepper Shaker Rings”