Photo by Kristina |CIGAR|

In the last few years 3-D printing has become more cost effective and precise. The advancement in 3-D printing technology has encouraged a school of thought that proves this technology has the potential to completely revolutionize medicine, improve manufacturing and change our relationship with technology.

To prepare for this new digital revolution, _Space.URI, the University’s “makerspace,” held an event on Monday, March 19, to help teach students and faculty how to use TinkerCAD.

TinkerCAD is computer-aided design software that, in the words of _Space.URI employee Dan Medeiros, is a basic and user-friendly application for first timers to learn about 3-D Printing and CAD.

Medeiros walked the session attendants through the basics of the TinkerCAD application, explaining how to add shapes into the designer and how to manipulate the planes and designs.

Medeiros showed how he used the software to design a keychain for his girlfriend, and then print the design using the _Space.URI’s 3-D printers. Medeiros further explained how students and staff used the CAD software for art and other projects.

“TinkerCAD is geared to be simple and user-friendly,” Medeiros said.

Medeiros explained how TinkerCAD’s lessons and features helped encourage new users, especially younger students, to learn the basics of CAD and 3-D printing. He showed the attendants the “brick” and “block” modes, modeled after Minecraft and Legos, further illustrating how the application has been designed not only to be user-friendly but to attract younger children.

Although the TinkerCAD software has allowed students and faculty to take advantage of the resources at the _Space.URI’s “makerspace,” URI Art Professor Krzysztof Mathews, who had participated in the informational session, said the TinkerCAD software is “limiting.”

Mathews explained how the TinkerCAD limited his ability to manipulate the edges of shapes and make the design more precise. Mathews also explained that despite the limitations of his free CAD app, it is still a great way for students to explore 3-D printing without, “getting a six hundred dollar license to use the high-end licenses.”

Nic Dacosta, an employee of  _Space.URI, said events like this are supposed to encourage students and faculty to take advantage of the services and programs the they provide. Dacosta and _Space.URI hope the makerspace will continue to help students make projects and ultimately help spur the 3-D printing revolution here on campus by getting more students familiar with the ability and appeal of this up incoming technology.  

_Space.URI provides free 3-D Printing, laser engraving and technology for virtual reality to all of the University’s students and faculty.