Make48: Design Time

Over the June 10th-12th weekend, a horde of inventors descended on the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History for the Make48 competition. The challenge for the DC event was eco-friendly household products centered around water conservation, recycled products and saving power. I volunteered for a 16 hour shift at the 3D printing station sponsored by Ultimaker. We were located in the Spark!Lab which is part of the Lemelson Hall of Invention and Innovation.


I thought I would be spending the day babysitting the printers. As soon as I walked in, I was hustled over to help a team with designing a model for their product pitch. The team was making a bath product for small children that would reduce water use. They wanted to print a scale model bathtub for each of the judges to demonstrate the product.

The problem was that none of the bathtub models they had found on Thingiverse or on Tinkercad quite fit what they wanted. The team drew me a quick sketch of the tub and their product concept. They wanted a basic no frills tub with a faucet. The team had to rush off for a shopping spree at the hardware store. I promised I would do my best to get them something before they got back.

I did a quick attempt in Fusion 360 and quickly realized I didn’t know what I was doing so backed out to see what I could remix. A tub on Tinkercad looked promising until I realized the bottom was rounded and the product wouldn’t sit flat.
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I pulled up a Barbie tub from Thingiverse that the team had rejected earlier and started printing two at different scales to get the team opinion on ideal model size. I used an Ultimaker 2 with a 0.8mm nozzle to speed up the print. I stopped the print before it reached the lip so I wouldn’t need to use support material.
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While those were printing, I googled standard tub dimensions and created a model from scratch in Tinkercad. I used the ruler tool and simply substituted inches in the scale drawing to millimeters in the Tinkercad model. When the team came back I handed them the Barbie tub model for size and then had them approve the new model I designed from scratch. An hour later, the new model was ready.IMG_2731

I then worked with the team to design a 3D model of their product in Tinkercad. The team had bought a container to use to develop their physical prototype and I was able to use those physical dimensions to scale the Tinkercad model.  We were able to verify that their physical prototype would fit in the tub in several different orientations.

I was pretty pumped that I was able to help prototype two models from scratch for the team I worked with. I was also able to help a few other team troubleshoot their models and prints. It was awesome to play a small part in such an exciting event centered around invention and innovation.

Check out the Make 48 highlights video below.

Want to talk 3D design, 3D printing, invention and innovation? Leave a comment or contact me on Twitter @DesignMakeTeach or Facebook