Introduction to 3D Printing

1) This summer I built a 3D printer out of a kit. Using it, I designed and printed a phone stand that used a servo motor to adjust the angle.

2) This project had an unexpectedly large impact on me personally. Before I started building the printer, I had no idea the scale of the project that I was undertaking. It really astounded me that I was able to build an almost four foot tall machine that could print objects with such precise resolution. In this way, the project really helped me see what I could accomplish when I was invested in something.

3) The project was also very emotionally and physically exhausting. It took a very long time to build, with constant delays when I realized I messed up an aspect of the construction. Through this, my patience was constantly tested and I had to learn to accept my mistakes and continue working.

Once the printer was built, I had to work on my ability to constantly refine a process. I had to constantly tweak parameters over and over in order to achieve nice looking prints. This project helped me to develop the ability to constantly strive for improvement.

4) Building a 3D printer helped me both academically and at my internship. As the company I worked for had a 3D printer, I was able to apply my knowledge and experience with 3D printers and SolidWorks to make use of their 3D printer. I ended up designing and printing enclosures to fit a signal generator I created using an Arduino microcontroller.

At school, I have found an Undergraduate Research Opportunity conducting research on 3D printers and their application in the field of antennas and RF devices that I hope to take part in. In addition, the building of the printer helped me better understand things like stepper motors that will be useful in my Electrical Engineering classes. Finally, building a servo-powered phone stand helped me develop my understanding of electronics that will be very useful going forward.