An Industrial Design MFA class partnered with a pair of global leaders in their respective industries to investigate 3D printing as an iterative process. Representatives from MakerBot, a desktop 3D printing company, and Autodesk, the software giant, visited with graduate students multiple times throughout the semester to provide feedback.
For the class, MakerBot donated four 3D printers for students to frequently access in creating prototypes of products that promote wrist interaction. The goal of the course — co-taught by Professor Alex Lobos and Associate Professor Stan Rickel — was to understand how computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D printing can be used to quickly fabricate design concepts so they can be tested and refined.
Shannon Connell, from St. Louis, Mo., designed Spark, a more human, relatable alternative to dating websites and apps. It is a wearable wrist device that alerts users of a match within visual range based on pre-selected filters, with directional haptic feedback guiding users to make eye contact and respond.
“I was super thankful that MakerBot and Autodesk were working with us because I probably printed 50-plus iterations of the ring and at least 20 iterations of the body in order to find a good mix of how things will merge together,” Connell said. “Simply going from the modeling software to printing it out, I kept finding this struggle. I ended up bringing clay over to some of my prints, remodeling it, bringing that back into the software, printing that out and then finally arriving at my final form.”
The students’ products were exhibited at MakerBot’s Brooklyn headquarters as part of an event during NYCxDESIGN, New York City’s annual celebration of design.