Getting Real with Making and Rapid Prototyping

We *love* digital creating at Fire Tech Camp. We’ve seen our campers come up with amazing, creative games, apps and programs, which exist fully and only in the digital world. But what about when you bring your digital creations into the physical world? That’s when we enter the realm of Making and Rapid Prototyping.

Until recently, when you dreamed up a new product or invention, it was very difficult to actually build a prototype of that as an individual, beyond clay modelling. But today thanks to the drop in prices in technology and the advances in home 3D printing, you can design a product online and print it in a matter of hours.

How does it work? 3D modelling software has been around for a long time. You can have a look at Google’s SketchUp for a free taste of how to mock up architechture and objects online. 123D is another free software that lets you design physical objects in a digital space, print-ready. A range of printers and printspaces like iMakr in London (and hackspaces around the world) mean that you can print your file without having to own your own printer.

While “additive” 3D printing (laying down layer on top of layer of material) is one of the hottest spaces in tech – it’s not the only way to think about building the things that you’ve imagined. You can design silicon moulds to create an army of your favourite objects. Laser-cutting allows precision cutting and burning, in paper, wood, acrylic and other materials. Those can in turn be altered to create something totally new. Subtractive fabrication means taking that digital model and using a “CNC” machine that is effectively the opposite of a 3D printer, drilling away bits to leave behind your solid model. Just like its additive cousin, these are now available in affordable desktop models. My favourite, from last year’s Maker Faire in Rome was the WASP Project – subtractive and additive 3D printing in a range of materials (including nutella)! And if you think building the models and prototypes is cool – just think about combining these with other materials, and some of the inexpensive open-source electronics like the Arduino and Lilypad wearable electronics!

Here are some of the cool ways we’ve seen technology get real: Customise fashion, like translucent 3D-printed coat buttons, lit up with programmed LEDs. 3D print in innovative materials such as chocolate! Or even cooler – scan your face – print it – turn it into a mold and make a lot of chocolates that look like you. 3D print your own 3D printer (recursion!), set up Arduino-powered mood lights in laser-cut housing, or turn your head into a gear stick!

The first step to all of these projects – and the millions more that you and your friends can imagine – is getting your hands dirty with Rapid Prototyping! We are working with Jessica Cobb, one of America’s top Makers, to develop a very special Intro to Making course, and we are delighted that she will be with us in London this summer to work with our campers and our instructors. This is a very special event, and we have two weeks planned in August – one for younger makers 10-13 years old, and one for teen makers 13+. Rapid Prototyping: An Intro to Making with 3D Printing will be held at the Makerversity at Somerset House, and the fees include a lab fee to cover the special materials that campers will be using to Get Real. Come join us and explore the space where engineering, design, and craft meet! Booking now, go to our courses section for more information.



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