SFAI Digital Fabrication, Spring 2013

San Francisco Art Institute
Digital Fabrication Using 3D Printers
DT-223-1, SC-223-1
Spring 2013
Faculty: Michael Shiloh
Mondays and Wednesdays, 7:30PM – 10:15PM
Room 117/105

Lesson plan, Week 1, Wednesday, January 23


  • Introduction
  • Review syllabus
  • Show hand cut paper, laser cut enclosures and parts, 3d printed parts


  • Introduction to Inkscape
  • Install Inkscape
  • Built-in tutorials
  • Pizza or other box project

Homework due Week 2, Monday, January 28

  • Install
  • Remember the basic Inkscape tutorials are part of the Inkscape program, under the Help menu.
  • The Inkscape FAQ  is also quite helpful.
  • You may use Illustrator or another program if you prefer as long as it works
  • Visit these websites and learn about paper cutout hand crank automata
  • Design a simple paper cutout hand crank automata. You may be as creative as you wish, but I recommend you start with a simple mechanism. You may copy the Robert Ives “Interchangeable Cam model” verbatim. You can elaborate later if you wish, as the next project will be to design a hand crank automata for cutting out of acrylic on a laser cutter.
  • Cut out and assemble your automata. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work perfectly (or at all). We will troubleshoot in class.
  • Write a brief report of what you learned: What worked, what didn’t work, what you forgot to consider, how you addressed spacing and rigidity when designing 3D structures out of flimsy paper, etc., how you made things turn when you wanted them to, and not turn when you didn’t want them to.

Lesson plan, Week 2, Monday, January 28

Administrative items

  • I will be late on Wednesday: Class will start at 8:00 PM.  We will make up the time at a later date.

Homework Check



Teasers for later

Lesson plan, Week 2, Monday, January 28


Homework due Week 3, Monday, February 4

  • Finish your blinking LED project, either in schematic view and/or in breadboard view
  • Export your laser cutting project in .eps using the correct RGB color format
  • Export your laser cutting project as .svg as well
  • Email or dropbox to me both .eps and .svg files

Lesson plan, Week 3, Monday, February 4

Administrative items

  • Everyone join the group at
    You may use any email address you prefer
  • Upload laser cutting project to Ponoko
  • Copy laser cuting project (eps and svg) to me, thumbdrive or dropbox

Homework Check

  • Schematic


  • Create simple box for laser cutting project. Material: 1/8″ plywood

Homework due Week 3, Wednesday, February 6

Lesson plan, Week 3, Wednesday, February 6


  • PCB view
  • Footprints
  • DIP vs. surface mount vs. Limerick style
  • PCB View -> Parts -> Pads


  • Create Limerick style PCB layout for your circuit.
  • Allow room for assembly, but don’t make it too big. Don’t make it too small either. Think about how big the pieces are, how big a soldering iron is, how you might hold the component while you solder down the first leg.
  • You are allowed to be creative. Add some visual element.
  • Read how to design a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) using Fritzing
  • File -> export -> for production

Homework due Week 4, Monday, February 11

  • Browse about the amplifier circuit at these sites. I don’t require that you follow everything, but I want you to become familiar with the terms and various aspects of the design:
  • Browse the  datasheet for the TDA2822M_dual_power_amp which is our amplifier Integrated Circuit (IC). Pay special attention to the layout suggestions on the last page.

Lesson plan, Week 4, Monday, February 11


  • Soak boards from last week
  • Laser cut pieces

New Material


  • Play around with Blender a little to become familiar
  • File -> User preferences -> File -> Auto Save Temporary File
  • File -> User preferences -> Input -> Numpad Emulation
  • Sculpt the default cube
    • Tab to toggle to Edit mode
    • Right Mouse Button (RMB) to select point
    • Shift RMB to select additional points
    • Press and hold E to extrude
  • Add a new object
    • Add -> Mesh -> Sphere
    • R = Rotate, S = Scale, G = Grab (to move)
    • RMB to select object
  • Box select

Things to remember

  • Red for X, green for Y and blue for Z
  • Blender will not prompt you to save changes. If you forget, use file -> recover last session
  • Blender uses a “focus follows mouse” user interface model
  • Blender has lots of modes, much of which is explained here
  • Press Z in the 3D view to toggle between Wire Frame and Solid views
  • TAB toggles between Object mode and Edit mode
  • Zoom with scroll
  • Click and drag with  MMB  to orbit  around the center of the view
  • SHIFT and scroll to dolly up and down
  • CTRL and scroll to dolly left and right
  • To center the view on an object in the scene:
    1. Make sure Blender is in Object Mode.
    2. Zoom out until the object is in the viewport.
    3. If any objects are selected, use  A  (or Select → Select/Deselect All) to deselect them.
    4. Select the object of interest by clicking  RMB  on it.
    5. Press  Num.  to center the view.

Summaries to print out


  • Cleaning up models: netfabapp

Lesson plan, Week 4, Wednesday, February 13

  • Fix PCBs
    • copy
    • clean
    • redo
    • etch with heat
  • Blender Reminders
    • TAB toggles between Object mode and Edit mode.
    •  Z  toggles between Wire Frame and Solid views
    • Moving viewport in OBJECT mode:
      • Zoom using one of:
        •  SCROLL
        • Click and drag vertically with  Ctrl + MMB
        •  Num+  and  NUM−  (only if NUMLOCK)
      • Orbit around the center of view view with either:
        • Click and drag with  MMB
        • View -> Navigate -> Orbit
        • use NUMLOCK and NUMPAD (4, 6, 8, 2)
      • SHIFT and SCROLL to dolly up and down
      • CTRL and SCROLL to dolly left and right
    • Manipulating an entire object in OBJECT mode
      • A toggles selecting ALL or NONE
      • Select individual object with RMB
      • Select multiple objects with SHIFT and RMB
      • Select object and then G to Grab; mouse moves object; ENTER ends
      • Select object and then R to Rotate; mouse rotates object; ENTER ends
      • Select object and then S to Scale; mouse scales object; ENTER ends
    • In EDIT mode:
      • Choose Vertices, Edges, and Faces mode
      • Select them with RMB; multiple with SHIFT
      • G to Grab; R to Rotate; S to Scale
      • ENTER ends
      • DEL or X to delete (Vertices, Edges, or Faces)
      • Adding Vertices
        • Choose Vertex  mode
        • Select an existing vertex
        • CTRL + LMB  to add a new vertex and a new edge to the selected vertex
      • Adding a face
        • Select all the vertices in the chain, and press F; this will add another edge joining the first and last vertex, and will fill in the loop with a new face. VERY IMPORTANT
      • Extrudung
        • Choose Edge or Face mode
        • Select an edge or face
        • CTRL + LMB  to add a new vertex and a new edge to the selected vertex
  • MakerWare and Replicator
  • Build circuits

Homework due Week 5, Monday, February 18

  1. Browse the 3D printing category at thingiverse. Note how 3D printed objects can have a bit of an overhang, but not too much /3d-printing. Be inspired by all the amazing designs.
  2. Design an object for 3D printing. Note that your humanoid figure is not ideal if it has a large overhang (like the body) but if it is gradual (a rounded body) it can be made to work. You can either modify your humanoid or create a new object. Don’t worry about perfection or originality – this is just to practice the process, although if we have time, we will start printing on Monday. If you just extrude a couple of faces on a cube that’s fine.
  3. Export your model as file type STL
  4. Analyze, check and repair your STL by running it through NetFabb’s online service
  5. You will receive email when the process is done (minutes); visit the link in the email to view the results. Check the dimensions (Outbox is probably the most useful) and make sure your “Mesh is manifold and oriented”
  6. Download the fixed result
  7. Import the file into MakerWare and view it.
  8. Next week we will start printing objects.

Lesson plan Week 5, Monday, February 18


  • I will be gone for two weeks in March and so there is no class on March 13 and 25. We will make up the missing time later with extra lab hours. What times (Monday and Wednesday) work best for everyone?


  • Dimensions
    • Set units to metric (Properties -> Scene -> Units -> Metric or follow this video)
    • Press N to toggle the “View Properties tool panel”  to inspect and manipulate position, rotation, and dimensions of object. This also allows you to place something precisely on top of another (if you know it’s offset to the center)
    • Precise translations: G (grab), Y (for motion in Y axis), 10 (for motion of 10 units). Works for R (rotate) and S (scale) as well.
      • This allows you to scale a model to fit the 3D printer.
  • Before printing
    • Follow Before Printing
    • Fix non-manifolds (edit mode; select none; CTRL-SHIFT-ALT M)
  • Build circuits
  • Laser cut models: Fix dimensions

Homework due Week 6, Monday, February 25

  • Come up with an idea for a project using one or more of the 3 digital fabrication techniques we’ve learned so far
  • Visit thingiverse and Instructables for inspiration
  • Don’t worry about what’s practical – I can help with that
  • If you are interested in sound, light, music, Arduino, motors, robots, etc. your project may use any of these
  • Consider things that move, like our first paper cutout project

Lesson plan Week 6, Monday, February 25

  • Project concept presentations
  • Electronics idea: Atari Punk Console (prototype)
  • Mechanism handout
  • Arduino

Printing tips, revised 4/1/2013

  • Use only the latest version of MakerWare, or later
  • Use only the left extruder. In this new version of MakerWare you must select the “Object” button on the lower left, select your object (or “Select All”), and then select the left extruder
  • Click “Make It!”, and select “Export to File”. Make sure you have PLA selected, and leave everything else at the default. Click “Export!” and make sure the file type is “X3g, SD print for firmware 7.0 or later”.
  • While MakerWare prepares your file, prepare the printer:
    • Before printing, level the build platform. There is a menu option that walks you through the steps.
    • Clean the blue tape with alcohol to help your build stick. Use new tape if the current tape is torn or scratched.
    • If the printer has been on for awhile, unload the filament, cut off a few inches, and reload the filament. If the extruder is too hot the heat softens the filament which prevents the feed mechanism from gripping it.
  • When your file is ready, copy it to the SD card and proceed to print.
  • If your build still doesn’t stick, you can use the “preheat” menu to heat the build platform before printing to help it stick.


We have no class from March 13 through March 25.  We will next meet on Wednesday, March 27.

Lesson plan Week 11, Monday, April 1

  • Project status reports
  • Plan makeup lab time
  • Give me your laser cutting projects



Further suggestions if you need a project

  • Electronics idea: Atari Punk Console (prototype)
  • Mechanism handout
  • Arduino

More tips

  1. Well-written instructions on how to merge two objects in Blender
  2. netfab Studio Basic, a free download, allows you to view your object layer by layer
  3. Finally, a Blender tutorial on boolean modifiers that I could follow. This is how you combine objects into a single mesh.

Laser Cutting services

  1. www.laselab.com  Berkeley
  2. LaZercut in East Oakland. Found on yelp. Phone: (510) 534-9663 but can’t find web page
  3. future-cities-lab.net/fab San Francisco
  4. pagodaarts.com San Francisco
  5. ponoko.com  Online only (local but normally don’t allow local pick up)

Monday May 6

  • Monday, May 6 will be our last work day. Wednesday will be a review.
  • Bring in all of your work next Wednesday so we can review, critique, and photograph.
  • Can someone bring a nice camera to take pictures on Wednesday?
  • I recommend Ben Wood’s summer class: DT220-1 Creating Innovative Interior Spaces Using Immersive Media, June 17-July 12, M-F 1:30-6:00
  • Evaluations!
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