Andrew Heisey, chair of the fine arts department is turning visions into reality with his new 3D printers and prototyping class. After two years of experimenting with ideas and finding materials for affordable prices, Heisey was able to place the 3D printer into the hands of students this semester.
“The idea of 3D printing is so great because you could have an idea, quickly manufacture it and then you can find out whether it’s working or not,” Heisey said.
In his prototyping class this semester, students are becoming familiar with software such as Tinkercad and Fusion 360. They use this software to design their prototypes and then files are sent to the printer where they are produced with a plastic filament.
“It’s a real sandbox class where it’s messy, but we are experimenting and making things,” Heisey said. “It’s a lot of play.”
Some projects students have been working on include thumb drive cases, face masks and carbon dioxide powered race cars.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Stuart Gillum, junior internet technology major and student in the prototyping class, said. “It doesn’t even feel like work. I really like using the computer to make stuff that can be turned into something in real life.”
Heisey said he loves to use the printer to solve problems. He has created simple gadgets such as clips for the back of face masks which he has named “ear savers.” He also created a sponge holder which attaches to the rim of a sink and comes in handy for drying sponges in his art classes.
“I’m really interested in the entrepreneurship program that we have here at the university,” Heisey said. “Our students here are very creative and socially minded. The idea of prototyping, coming up with a concept and finding a way to make it in reality could be really critical to just about every major we have.”
Students of Heisey’s prototyping class all participated in the EHive’s “Something from Nothing” Innovation Challenge and were able to put their creativity to the test in designing a product.
Working with Melinda Walls’ New Venture Creation Class, he also hopes to provide students with the prototyping resources and education they need in their start-up businesses.
“I think it’s really helpful, especially with my entrepreneurship minor, to be able to hand them a design,” Liliane Portman, junior art major and student in Heisey’s prototyping class, said. “It’s really good to be able to show off your ideas in the form of something you can touch and hold when asking for investment in a project.”
In the future, Heisey hopes to evolve the possibilities even further.
“I have a grand vision of having a maker space here on campus,” Heisey said. “There’s a whole lot that we could do here with a maker space where students from any major could come and make an idea a reality. This was just the start.”
Some visions he has in mind include a computer lab equipped with design software, a wood shop, laser cutters to engrave wood or cut glass, a printing space for both three-dimensional designs and prints or posters and more.