3D Printing Club helps others while improving members' skills

The student run organization at MU gives interested students valuable experience while also helping those outside of the club.
The 3D Printing Club most recently designed a three-dimensional map of the northwest section of MU campus to help visually impaired students as part of an initiative it calls Make Mizzou. | Graphic by Michelle Gutierrez

MU 3D Printing Club members do not just make toys and trinkets, they use their knowledge to help the disabled and other vulnerable communities.

The club recently completed a three-dimensional map of the northwest section of MU’s campus in order to help the visually impaired as part of an initiative it calls Make Mizzou. This was a project that began over four years ago, and one which the club members say they hope can expand to cover all of campus.

“We hope this map will help visually impaired students get a better understanding of how campus is laid out and the sizes and styles of buildings on campus,” said club member Brady Hindersmann in an article for the MU College of Engineering by Jordan Yount. “We also hope it will help visually impaired visitors get an understanding of campus and help them find a building they were looking for.”

The club was founded in 2012 and does its work in the basement of Lafferre Hall.

In 2018 the club partnered with a charity based out of India to build a prosthetic hand for an Indian person who had their hand amputated.

The club members hoped to have the hand finished by the end of the fall semester, but were unable to get their prototype to work how they wanted it to. Now their focus is delivering a high quality hand as soon as possible, club member J.D. Peiffer said.

“I'd love to send our prosthetic to our partners in India soon,” Peiffer said. “We are still wrestling with a few electronics issues, but our code has successfully executed, our sensors do their jobs, so we just need to make them all work at the same time.”

Peiffer said that being a part of the club not only allows students to make an impact through projects like the map and prosthetics, but it also gives students valuable experience in 3D printing, computer software and circuitry.

“We are learning as we go, and I am proud of how much my team and I have learned from setbacks as well as the intrinsic motivation I see in the core team members,” he said.

For the map project, Hindersmann started by using Google Maps to model the buildings, and then designed scale versions in a 3D modeling software called SolidWorks.

Peiffer said that his work in prosthetics has improved his experience across many fields of engineering and science.

“We incorporate more types of engineering than one would expect,” Peiffer said. “We do a lot of circuit board design and embedded programming along with the 3D design and fabrication of our prosthetic.”

Jack Allen, a sophomore who joined the club in December 2018, said that the club is not just for students who already know everything about 3D printing. Allen said that the club has a beginners group just for this purpose.

“I am most proud of the club’s ability to bring new members in and get them involved immediately in our activities,” Allen said.

Outside of the beginners group, the prosthetics group and Make Mizzou, Allen talked about the large scale printer group. This group is developing its own new 3D printer that would be much larger than anything that is currently commercially available.

As for the future, Peiffer said that once the hand is completed and delivered to the club’s partner charity in India the prosthetics group within the club hopes to embark on more projects. He also said that each of the groups within the club have big plans for the future as well.

“[The] large scale printer [group] is planning to eventually print furniture,” Peiffer said. “Make Mizzou aims to give people with visual impairments the ability to orient themselves on our campus better. Lastly, our prosthetics project aims to make low cost prosthetics for people in developing countries.”

Edited by Alex Fulton | afulton@themaneater.com

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