Gargoyles Take Flight in High School Design Class26 Mar, 2014 By: Jade Nuber
One student's foray into modeling with Autodesk Mudbox and 3D printing shows how inspiring it can be to take an idea from drawing to reality.
From Digital to Tangible
Once we reached the 3D-printing stage, Mr. Santolupo took over, converting our saved MUD files to STL files for 3D printing. That process can take as long as five minutes for a big or problematic file. Next, he sent the converted file to the 3D printer.
Our Stratasys Dimension SST printer is probably about 5.5' tall and about 2.5' wide and deep. The process starts with a thin wire of plastic being fed into the machine, where it is melted and shaped into a layer 0.1" thick. The platform supporting the model progressively moves downward as the printing process continues and layers are added, gradually building the physical model. Depending on the design, a structure might be necessary to support the 3D-printed form, in which case the printer creates that support from a second material that can be dissolved or chipped away following the printing process.
The entire process generates a lot of heat and takes many hours — usually 10 or more. Our teacher would start a print at the end of our school day and it would usually be ready by the time we came to class the next day, around 1 p.m. The printed models exceeded Mr. Santolupo’s expectations and I was really impressed with the quality and detail of each of the gargoyle models.
Students saw the designs that they created in Mudbox (left) become tangible models (right) with the help of a Stratasys 3D printer.
Spreading My Creative Wings
This experience enabled me to work with a very sophisticated design tool with great success — and with a very short learning curve. Mudbox and the 3D printer allowed my ideas to come to life. The process was very exciting from first to last, and it proved that my classmates and I are more than capable of using state-of-the-art technologies.
Through this experience, the author discovered new ways to bring her ideas to life.
Although I still see the value of working by hand, these new technologies have added a new dimension not only to the design process, but to my own ideas. This experience has provided for me a fresh and new way of looking at design. I look forward to additional tech design classes.
Editor's note: Read more about Mike Santolupo's design classes in "Santolupo's High School Students Tackle Real-World Design Challenges."