Earlier this week, Diane Carlson (Sociology) and I held a preview event for Making Social Change, our Sociology + Making course, as part of FLC’s Social Justice Spring events. We decided to create some drop spindles and spin some yarn, based on an activity Erica Tyler (Anthropology) developed as part of last summer’s Making Across the Curriculum faculty professional development program.

We cut the whorls using the laser cutter (which has been christened “Danger Scissors”)…

Untitled

Note the engraved design, inspired by Gandhi’s spinning wheel.  Diane cut the dowels using a good old-fashioned chop saw…

Sawhat

…after which she and Erica taught us how to turn wool into yarn.

Drop Spindling

We also walked students through some other digital fabrication techniques, using the same spinning wheel motif source file to create objects using the Carvey, vinyl cutter, and 3D printer.  Looking forward to helping bring this course to life in the fall!

Max Mahoney (Chemistry) and I have been working on version 2 of some UV LED boxes for use in a cyanotype photography activity.  We’ve been talking about these for a long time, so it’s nice to finally get to building.

Max Makes

Each box will have three 10 watt 380 nanometer UV LEDs arranged on a piece of aluminum bar stock. We were able to build up the prototype in about a day, working out some of the details about the access hatch, and the arrangement of the lights and so forth.

Success!

We also used the new laser to engrave one of the side panels.

Dogbox!

Today Nicole (student) helped out mass producing three additional boxes (for a total of four).

Nicole Building Boxes

As it turns out, these LEDs get HOT, so we brainstormed some fan arrangements, and settled upon a design.  We quickly developed a diagram using Illustrator, running a paper prototype on the laser to ensure that our measurements were correct before engraving and cutting the final piece out of 1/4 hobby plywood.

Cyanotype Exposure Box End

Looking forward to getting these buttoned up and in use at the end of the week!

Fidget spinners are suddenly all the rage in the Innovation Center.

Fidget Spinners are all the Rage in the Innovation Center

So far folks have 3D printed them on the Ultimakers, laser cut them out of acrylic on the new laser, and just today cut some out of HDPE plastic on the Carvey.

Nathan's Spinner

Easel (the software the runs the Carvey) even has a spinner add-on that enables easy design and tweaking.

Easel Fidget Spinner Maker

I see a big old bag of bearings in our future!

The laser was installed yesterday, and while makerspaces are more about culture, community, and possibilities than they are about machines, this thing sure is a sweet machine. 🙂

Laser Learning

Following the install and orientation, we spent the better part of the day cutting, engraving and scoring wood, paper, and acrylic.  Once we got the hang of it, CJ (student) and I decided to push the machine with a test cut through 3/4″ pine.

Ryan and Rick (foreground above) assure me that this much flaring is normal, especially with material this thick (and without air assist, which we’ll probably be adding as funding permits).

After much hemming and hawing, institutional and otherwise, and surprisingly much electrical work:

Pulling Power

our first laser cutter – a Universal PLS6.150D with two 60 watt tubes – has arrived. It’s sitting down in Receiving, awaiting an install next week!

Laser

There are a lot of pent up projects just waiting for its radiation, so we’re excited to get it up and running and get some things cut and engraved.