3D Printing Unleashes Creativity at UMN’s Toy Product Design Class Hosted by MIT Alumnus Barry Kudrowitz

playsentationsEvery year, the Toy Product Design class at the University of Minnesota, taught by MIT alumnus and inventor Barry Kudrowitz, hosts an event called Playsentations.

The Playsentations are a set of presentations that combine theatrical and live demonstrations of toys created by students at the University. Utilizing the Digital Fabrication Lab, one of the most advanced workshops on the UMN campus, they are able to use 3D printers, CNC machines, laser cutters, lathes and much more to create toys that relate to the year’s theme. This year’s theme was “Making Makers.” As you can imagine, 3D printing fits in perfectly with this theme.

The Coffman Theater full of students, designers, and children awaiting the beginning of the tenth annual Playsentation.

The Coffman Theater full of students, designers, and children awaiting the beginning of the tenth annual Playsentation.

As an alumnus of the class, I was excited to be asked to 3D print parts this year because the Design Studio’s Stratasys Dimension 3D Printers were at capacity. When I was a student, the theme was Track Based Motion. Our team 3D printed connectors capable of creating huge marble runs by linking cans, paper, and bottles together.

3d printed connectors

On the left, me with one of our towers. In the middle and on the right, are renderings of the 3D printed connectors (green) our team created with the Stratasys Dimension 3D Printers.

Two years later, I am impressed with the ideas students came up with and how they used 3D printed models to look and function like end-use parts.

3d printed chocolate gun

On the left is one of the 3D printed models created here at Stratasys. On the right, the final prototype for the Chozmo (chocolate gun) which uses easy-melt chocolate chips. Check out the pitch for this concept here

The project above is a little ironic. It is called the Chozmo and drew inspiration from a hot glue gun except instead of sticks of glue, they used sticks of chocolate! The irony comes from the fact that Scott Crump, chairman, chief innovation officer, and inventor of fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printing technology at Stratasys, invented this method of 3D printing from layering hot glue layers into shapes. Now, hot glue gun inspired innovations are being 3D printed with technology that came from, well, hot glue gun inspired innovations.

Below are some other Stratasys 3D printed parts from this year’s Playsentation.

3d printed programmable robot

On the left, a Stratasys 3D printed toy saucer spaceship called ROGR. On the right, the finished ROGR holding its commander and programmable robot.

3d printed electrical bands

Stratasys 3D printed bands to hold electronics and track interactions between those wearing them.

The Playsentations were a great success and taught another group of tomorrow’s leaders about the fascinating possibilities of product design and 3D printing. The successful projects will now go through the Office of Technology Commercialization at the UMN and could potentially be commercialized in the near future.

The class will begin again next spring with a new theme and challenges for the students to tackle. Check out the course website.

This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified), Portuguese (Brazil)

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