SFAI Digital Fabrication, Spring 2014

San Francisco Art Institute
Digital Fabrication Using 3D Printers
DT-223-1, SC-223-1
Spring 2014
Faculty: Michael Shiloh
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7:30PM – 10:15PM
Office hours: This class has no office hours
Room 105

Class blog: http://teachmetomake.com/wordpress/sfai-digital-fabrication

Class Google group: https://groups.google.com/d/forum/sfaidigifab

Lesson plan, Week 1, Tuesday, January 21


  • Introduction
  • Review syllabus
  • Examples


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

Homework due Week 1, Thursday, January 23

Lesson plan, Week 1, Thursday, January 23

  • Who did not receive Moodle test?
  • Who did not receive homework email?
  • Office hours: 7-7:30 before class I was wrong. This class has no office hours.
  • Inkscape for Laser Cutting
    • Here is the document that Judy went over
  • Create first project
  • 3D printer demo

Links mentioned in class

Homework due Week 2, Tuesday, January 28

  1. Design a simple box in Inkscape or any software of your choice to be laser cut, according to the requirements that Judy discussed in class on Thursday. A link to Judy’s document is above.
  2. If you have questions, remember that you can email me. Don’t wait until the last minute.
  3. Judy will start cutting on Tuesday, so you can ask very last minute questions in class, but your project should be basically finished by then. We will not spend time in class on this project, as we are starting a new topics on Tuesday

Other items

  1. I’ve moved all links to the bottom, because I can see that we’ll keep adding to them so better to have them in one place
  2. I was wrong about office hours. This class has no office hours, so we will meet at 7:30 PM as originally stated.
  3. I’ve created a Google group to be our class mailing list. You should have received email from me via this list.
  4. Please let me know if you did or did not receive this email.
  5. You can email to everyone on the list at sfaidigifab@googlegroups.com.
  6. You can visit the group web page to view previous message or to change your settings.
  7. I encourage you to ask me questions by emailing the entire list so that everyone can benefit from your question and my answer, and also so that you can answer each other.

Lesson plan, Week 2, Tuesday, January 28


Homework due Week 2, Thursday, January 30

  • Read or watch some of the Blender tutorials listed on the Blender page. Let me know which ones you like and which ones you don’t like.
  • Create a simple model of anything you want in blender. It does not have to be good. The point is to get comfortable with moving and rotating the object, moving and rotating your viewpoint, and modeling the object.
  • If you don’t know what to model here are some suggestions:
    • A dog
    • A coffee cup
    • A pencil
    • A lamp
    • A robot
    • A screw
    • A suitcase
    • (make up our own)

Homework due Week 3, Thursday, February 6

  • Create a model ready for printing
  • Read about what are, how to check for and fix, non-manifold models here
  • Export your model as file type STL
  • Analyze, check and repair your STL by running it through NetFabb’s online service
  • 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”
  • Download the fixed result
  • Optional: Download netfab Studio Basic, a free tool which allows you to view your object layer by layer, as it would print. You have to register but it’s free and automatic.
  • Remember that there is no class on Tuesday, February 4. Please use this day to make sure your models are ready to print on Thursday.
  • We will next meet on Thursday, February 6

Week 3, Thursday, February 6

Introducing the MakerBot Replicator (Dual)

Homework due Week 4, Tuesday, February 11

  1. If you have not yet done so, finish your 3D models. Try to do this soon and email me if you have questions or problems with Blender or your object
  2. I have revised the preparing and printing instructions at Blender for Digital Fabrication using the MakerBot Replicator Dual. Please review them and be ready to print your objects in class

Week 4, Thursday, February 13

  1. OpenSCAD, quick reference Cheat Sheet
  2. Simple shapes:
    1. 2D (laser or plasma cutter)
    2. 3D (3D printer)
      cube ([20,15,5]);
  3. Moving things
    translate([3,0,0]) {
  4. Color is like a modifier to an object (like an adjective)
    color([1,0,0]) cube([2,3,4]);
    color([0,1,0]) cube([2,3,4]);
    color([0,0,1]) cube([2,3,4]);
  5. Union, intersect, difference
    union() {
      cylinder (h = 4, r=1, center = true, $fn=100);
      rotate ([90,0,0]) 
        cylinder (h = 4, r=0.9, center = true, $fn=25);
  6. Modules or functions
    module makeSpheres( howMany )
      for ( i = [0: howMany-1])
        echo("sphere ",i, "at ",i*360/howMany);
            sphere(r=2, $fn=10);
      } // for
    } // module
  7. Why OpenSCAD?
    1. Allows parameterizing designs
      1. Laser cut box
      2. Tardis
    2. Allows complex geometry
      1. Spiral cup
  8. See below for OpenSCAD resources

Week 5, Tuesday, February 18

  • Judy returns for further laser cutting instruction
  • Introduction to hand crank automata

Homework due Week 5, Friday, February 21

  • Design a laser cut hand crank automata. You can be as creative as you want but I encourage you to keep the mechanism as simple as possible. Use the resources below to see examples.
  • Drop the laser cutting files in Judy’s dropbox folder before 6pm on Friday, February 21. That’s when Judy will start cutting your projects.

Week 5, Thursday, February 20

  • Gabe introduces the plasma cutter

Homework due Week 6, Tuesday, February 28

  1. Browse the resources below, or do research on your own, to come up with a simple project for the plasma cutter. Sketch out your idea on paper. For Thursday you will need to finish your design in Illustrator or Inkscape, so you can start working on that now since there isn’t much time between Tuesday and Thursday.
  2.  In addition to the plasma cutter we also have the following tools and capabilities:
    1. Spot welder: an easy-to-use welder for joining sheet metal. This short advertisement video gives you a bit of a sense of how you will use it.
    2. Sheet metal can also be joined to itself and other things with nuts and bolts and pop rivets
    3. We have a metal brake, a device for bending sheet metal on nice straight lines, so you can cut out the shape of (for example) a flattened box and then fold it into a box. (The author of the video is a kinetic sculptor and his website has pictures of his work and other examples, techniques, and more videos)

Week 6, Tuesday, February 25

Class canceled due to emergency appendectomy. Everything is fine but I don’t think I will able to teach tomorrow evening. You may use the time to finish your designs for the plasma cutter, which we will be doing on Thursday.

Class on Thursday continues as scheduled

Week 6, Thursday, February 27

Plasma cutting!

Week 7, Tuesday, March 4

Electronics: Circuits, breadboards, blinking LED, Fritzing

LEDBlinkerSlowHomework due Week 7, Thursday, March 6

  1. Install Fritzing from here
  2. Watch this short Fritzing video

Week 7, Tuesday, March 6

  1. Introduction to Fritzing
    1. Move components to bottom
    2. View from bottom
  2. Another circuit
    1. Atari Punk Console with photoresistor instead of potentiometer
    2. Add a pair of blinking LEDs from last time
  3. (Laser cut project examples in Judy’s Dropbox folder)

Homework due Week 8, Tuesday, March 11

  1. Using Fritzing, make a schematic for the blinking LED project we did on Tuesday. The schematic is on this blog for March 4th. Remember to skip C2.
  2. Once you have the schematic in Fritzing, create the PCB layout. Important things to remember:
    1. Move all components to the bottom of the board
    2. All traces must be on the top of the board (not what I told you in class)
    3. Traces may not intersect each other unless you wish to make a connection. If a connection is not desired then they may not intersect.
  3. You may duplicate mine or you may be as different as you wish, as long as it is correct. Note that the square pad indicates pin 1 on the integrated circuit:

Week 8, Tuesday, March 11

  1. How to design a circuit board in Fritzing and mill it on the OtherMill
  2. Visit examples on the same page

Week 8, Thursday, March 13

  1. Start designing your Atari Punk Console:
    1. Do the schematic for the Atari Punk Console.
      1. You may need to use jumpers.
    2. Add the circuit for two blinking LEDs.
      1. Instead of the fixed resistor R2, place a connector for wires to the potentiometer.
      2. Add a fixed resistor in series with the potentiometer to prevent turning this knob all the way to zero, thereby shorting pin 7 to pin 6.
    3. Add a switch in series with the battery
    4. Add holes for strain relief for any wires going off-board (battery, switch, LEDs, potentiometers, speaker)

Homework due Week 10, Tuesday, March 25

  1. Do one of the following. Those of you who are behind in your work may do more than one for extra credit:
    1. Finish your Atari Punk console
    2. Design a laser cut enclosure for your Atari Punk Console
    3. Make corrections to your automata project so that it will work
    4. Create a laser cut work of art (see examples below)
    5. Create a 3D model (see examples below)

Week 10, Tuesday, March 25

  1. View homework for those who are ready
  2. Finish work

Week 10, Tuesday, March 27

  1. View homework and move on

Homework due Week 11, Thursday, April 3

  1. Chose something you haven’t done from BCDE above. Another example of 3D model: toy airplane kit. This assignment is due on Thursday 7pm so Judy can start cutting.
  2. Francesca, let me know if you have trouble finding out about Vellum. Derek, I’ll bring the Lexan on Tuesday.
  3. Does anyone else need anything from me?

Week 11, Thursday, April 3

  • Check in with everyone on progress for homework due on Thursday

Week 12, Tuesday, April 8

  • Judy’s next laser cutting is on Thursday at 4pm.
  • Review difference between cut and raster

Week 14, Tuesday, April 22

  • Final projects will be due on our last day, May 8, at the beginning of class. I want to see a display of all your projects. All of your design files will also be due, and should be placed in a shared folder (yet to be determined).

Week 15, Tuesday, April 29


  • All projects are due on our last day, Thursday, May 8, at the beginning of class. I want to see a display of all your projects.
  • All of your design files will also be due, and should be placed in a shared folder (yet to be determined).
  • Each one of you should create a folder with your name, and within your folder, make a separate folder for each project. In each project folder put:
    1. The design files for that project (in native Fritzing, Illustrator, Blender, Inkscape, OpenSCAD, etc. format)
    2. One or more photographsof the project
    3. A short video clip (nothing fancy – cellphone is fine) of your kinetic (electronic and  automata) projects
  • If you have any questions please email me or ask me in class.

Week 15, Thursday, May 1

Where to put documentation:

  1. Visit https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B3CZdpItzz6rc09peHhYWWQ3VEE
  2. Create a sub-folder with your name, and within your folder, make a sub-folder for each project. In each project folder put:
    1. The design files for that project (in native Fritzing, Illustrator, Blender, Inkscape, OpenSCAD, etc. format)
    2. One or more photographs of the project
    3. A short video clip (nothing fancy – cellphone is fine) of your kinetic (electronic and  automata) projects
    4. It’s OK to take your pictures and videos during our exhibition on Thursday, but if they are not in the Google drive by Friday at noon I will mark the assignment as incomplete

Schedule for next week:

  • Monday: Judy laser cutter
  • Tuesday: Judy laser cutter
    Class: final work day
  • Wednesday: Judy laser cutter
  • Thursday:
    • Set up  projects in room that Francesca reserved for us
    • Relax and enjoy our creations, and those of the Nick Lally’s “Internet Tools & Concepts” class


  1. Sheet metal and plasma cutter projects and techniques
    1. Quick and Easy Sheet Metal Projects
    2. How to Make a Medieval Helmet from Sheet Metal
    3. Steel Sheet Metal Flower
    4. Designing for Sheet Metal
    5. How to make a sheet metal box
    6. Search Google images for “plasma torch projects”
    7. Search Google images for “sheet metal projects”
    8. Plasma cutting Metal Wall Art
  2. OpenSCAD
    1. OpenSCAD User Manual
    2. Parametric Design with OpenSCAD
    3. Making a Thing with OpenSCAD on Hackaday
    4. OpenSCAD Tutorials on MakerBot
    5. Beginner’s Tutorial on Edutech wiki
    6. Using OpenSCAD to extrude a 3D model from a 2D Illustrator drawing on Make: Projects
    7. Using OpenSCAD for 2D machining: Extremely well documented program for modeling a box in 3D and then using projections to convert each face to a 2D shape for laser cutting
  3. Inkscape
    1. Remember the basic Inkscape tutorials are part of the Inkscape program, under the Help menu
    2. The Inkscape FAQ  is quite helpful
    3. A short introduction to Inkscape
    4. Lynda tutorial on Inkscape
    5. Judy’s notes on using Inkscape to create projects for laser cutting
    6. Inkscape keys and mouse reference
    7. A whole collection of Inkscape videos listed on the Inkscape website
    8. A whole collection of Inkscape tutorials, both official (on the Inkscape website) and external
    9. Basics:
    10. Create pac-man baddies:
    11. Basic Pattern Making:
    12. Everything:
    13. Thirty-one great tutorials:
    14. Thirty-five great tutorials (Vector graphics):
    15. Keystroke:
  4. Hand crank automata
    1. http://www.flying-pig.co.uk/store/ruffler
    2. http://www.robives.com/mechanisms/cams
    3. http://www.robives.com/blog/cam#.UQGO_n0_6lh
    4. Exploratorium’s  instructions for making cardboard automata
    5. Robert Ives agreeable sheep showing a nice way to follow a cam
    6. Great collection found by Francesca, especially this one
    7. Free mini-zines on various subjects by Robert Ives
    8. Dug North’s automata blog
    9. Barking Dog automata, especially how to make things turn
    10. Rob Ives mechanisms descriptions
    11. Making Automata with food
    12. Cabaret Mechanical Theatre Hints and Tips
    13. Dug’s Automata Tips, Techniques, and Tricks on Cabaret Mechanical Theatre
    14. Mécaniques animées great videos
    15. Another great project showing an improved way to follow cams
  5. Blender
    1. Lynda.com/Blender 2.65/Tutorials
    2. Modeling a pencil:
    3. Blender 3D: Noob to Pro:

Inspirational works

  1. Examples of laser cut art and 3D models
    ben-butler-art-03 hd_cde1cddee71e9049e4f7c995af31199b images images-1 images-2 TR-06-Storer-House-Trivet-388 TreesAlso
    Google images search for laser cut 3d models
    3D Rhino made from flat parts
    Layers of super complex patterns


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