3D Printing

3D Printed Playdoh Remover Prototype

Liam is a 5th grader attending Mansfield Middle School. He was one of the winners in the Connecticut Invention Convention and will move on to Nationals. His prototype is made of metal and rusts if Playdoh is not cleaned off for an extended period of time, a common scenario for 3-years old's playing with Playdoh. Also, the metal can be sharp for little kids to use. He wanted to 3-D print his prototype to see if it would help these issues and it does! Thanks to the OPIM Innovate lab, Liam was able to create a more sustainable and safer prototype for children to test out. Seeing as Liam and his parents have no experience with 3-D printing, this could not have happened without you!

Learn About Octoprint Installation at the OPIM Innovate Lab

What started out as a simple way to monitor our 3D prints turned into a full blown remote control system for our Prusa i3 MK3s! This setup produces stunning timelapses that make the print look like it is rising from the print bed on its own.

So how does it work? One of our lab assistants, Jason Tyler, who spearheaded the project, explains, “It all starts with the Raspberry Pi, which is a mini computer that serves as the brains of the system. This computer is connected to both the printer and the camera that we have watching the prints. It runs a special operating system that connects to our network and has a bunch of special features that makes this project possible.”

In essence, after each layer printed the software talks to the printer and tells it to move the extruder (the big printer head that does the ‘printing’) out of the way, then tells the camera to take a picture. This is done using the GCode language, which is the universal programming language of most 3D printers. When compiled at the end, the pictures are stitched together into a seamless video.

Videos aren’t the only thing that Octoprint can do, Jason says. “The Octopi software allows us to start new prints, monitor current print status, and view prints layer by layer from anywhere!. There is a plugin store where the community has uploaded a bunch of add ons for Octoprint that give this project an extensive amount of possibilities.”

Having a system like this fits in perfectly at OPIM Innovate: It provides a glimpse into some real world skills and projects students might not encounter elsewhere. Octoprint essentially acts as a load/supply management system that increases operational efficiency; similar to examples in the manufacturing industry. Students can view real-time analytics and optimize their print settings from the cloud!

If you are following us on Tiktok or Instagram you may have seen some of these videos before. Come by the lab from 9-4 Monday to Friday to see Octoprint in action!

3D Printed Marceline’s Bass Ax from Adventure Time

With the resources provided to me through the OPIM Innovate Lab, I created two versions of the bass guitar used by the character Marceline in the show Adventure Time. Innovate provided me with skills related to 3d printing, slicing, modeling, and building which all helped me to create props that were very show authentic. Additionally, the tech tracks offered to me through the Innovate Lab were transferable to other softwares such as SolidWorks and Creality5.0. Their multiple 3d printers also helped me get the parts necessary for this project fast and efficiently, which was a huge help. Overall, the Innovate Lab has helped me learn a great deal about 3d modeling and helped me build extremely intricate props.

Reinvent PT

The REINVENT-PT (REhabilitation INnoVations & Emerging Novel Technologies in Physical Therapy) lab (PI: Srinivasan) is interested in understanding developmental trajectories of individuals with neuro-developmental disabilities such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, and Intellectual Disability across the lifespan.

The study we are currently working on explores the feasibility and efficacy of a home-based training program that uses joystick-operated ride-on-toys to improve arm function in children with cerebral palsy. In this study, we have lots of fun activities that involve children driving the ride-on-toys to complete playful challenges based on themes such as sports, children’s animated movies, favorite holidays, and other exciting themes.

The contribution of OPIM Innovate has been instrumental in supporting the activities of the children, by means of creating, modeling, and printing 3-D printed toys. These toys will significantly aid in motivating the children to participate, providing them with novel textures and shapes to interact with, and facilitating hand movements that are crucial to the study. OPIM Innovate has demonstrated its generosity by creating a diverse range of 3-D printed toys, including fidget, moveable, puzzle, and interactive toys, all of which are thematically aligned with popular children's characters such as Minions, Mickey Mouse, Scooby Doo and many more. OPIM Innovate's valuable contribution to the study will enable us to provide a more engaging and effective learning experience for the children. We extend our sincerest gratitude and appreciation to OPIM Innovate for their support and generosity. We hope to continue working with you all in the future. Thank you again!

reinventpt 3D printed toys

AIAA Rocketry: Propulsive Landing Project

For this project, our goal is to successfully drop and land a model rocket on a landing pad using propulsion along with various guidance systems. The OPIM Innovate lab provided super helpful insight regarding 3D printing practices such modifying prototype parts and 3D tech specificities. They also put an emphasis on on getting our prints to us as soon as possible. 

Submitted by Patrick Iannetta, Mechanical Engineering, Rocketry Team

Rocket Engineering Team

Fish Tank Livewell

3D Printed Fish Tank Livewell parts

I designed and built a fish tank livewell for fishing. What these three different parts do are they attach onto the side of the tank. The lightweight plastics are extremely good for this, as it’s lightweight and doesn’t add a lot to the tank when moving it around, but allows for the higher well, aerating pump, and battery to be held there with constant pressure and not get splashed.
The employees at OPIM Innovate were extremely nice and helpful to help me slice my project and 3D print on the printer. I am currently at the process of 3D printing it which will help me assemble it to make the final project.
Submitted by: Liam Wilson

3D Printed Catapult ENGR1000 Project

In the OPIM Innovate lab, I was able to create a catapult for a project in my ENGR1000 class. OPIM Innovate has all of the resources necessary to prototype, print, and assemble a project such as this. The necessary Solidworks skills I used for this project can be learned through the Tech Tracks that the lab offers. The 3D printers available in the lab are also great to test out your prototype in the real world. While my first design for the project worked out on paper, I was able to make improvements to it by seeing the real physical thing after printing it out on the Prusa MK3. OPIM Innovate is a great space with a lot of tools along with very helpful and informative staff to help increase your knowledge.

Submitted by: Anthony Prior


K-Cup Holder for the UConn Writing Center

One of the most amazing things about 3D printing is the speed at which an idea becomes a design. With the growing prevalence of this technology, the time between thinking up an object that you would like to exist and seeing it constructed continues to decrease. The thought of turning something I dreamed up into a reality was my primary inspiration for this project: a sculpture of the UConn Writing Center logo that doubles up as a K-Cup holder.

I was excited to find out that a Writing Center tutor was kind enough to donate a Keurig to the office, putting lifegiving caffeine in the hands of tutors without the cost of running down to Bookworms Cafe. Alas, it was disturbing to see that the K-Cups used by the machine were being stored in a small basket. Now, I’m not the Queen of England or anything, but I have my limits. The toll on my mental health taken by watching the cups lazily thrown into a pile in the woven container was enough to force me to take action. With less than half an hour of active work, I was able to turn the Writing Center logo, a stylized “W”, into a three-dimensional model complete with holes designed to hold K-Cups.

But there’s another reason I decided to turn my strange idea into a reality: I wanted to highlight the range of resources offered on campus to UConn students. The OPIM Innovate space and the Writing
Center aren’t so different, really. While the Writing Center can assist students with their writing in a variety of disciplines, Innovate provides a range of tech kits that teach students about emerging
technologies. Both are spaces outside the classroom where students can learn relevant skills, regardless of their majors. Most importantly, perhaps, both were kind enough to hire me.

The print currently resides in the Writing Center office where tutors can sit down, enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee from a large sculpture of a W and savor the bold taste of interdisciplinary collaboration.

Written by: Eli Udler


A Wrench for Stanley Black & Decker

One of the most used features of the OPIM Innovate lab is the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printer. We are always interested in new innovations in 3D printing and what students like to use the 3D printers for. We were lucky to have a chance to show a big name company upcoming technologies we had in the space.

Stanley Black & Decker’s executive personnel came to UConn for a networking event with the OPIM department. I had been tasked with 3D printing a momento to give to the Stanley team. As a manufacturer of tools and hardware, I thought it would be appropriate to print some kind of tool for them to take back with them. Doing some research I had discovered a functional wrench model that we could print as one piece.

Once I printed them I found that they were not always functional. I modified the wrench features and diameters to get what you see below using Tinkercad and Makerbot Desktop. Over the course of several weeks I experimented with several wrench sizes and materials. Our main criteria to improve the design was to reduce print time and while ensuring they were still functional. I found that wrenches that were made of ABS and approximately the size of the blue wrench seen below was the best design.When I decided to reprint, I decided to brand them in order to make them more personal.

In the end the Stanley team was intrigued by what we were doing with the space and the 3D printing technologies I had shown. It was a good professional experience to speak with them and present what I had learned during my academic career.

By: Nathan Hom

Designing the School of Business

I have been using CAD to make different models and designs since I was in high school.  It’s so satisfying to make different parts in a program that you can then bring to life with 3D Printing. In the OPIM Innovation Space, several 3D printers have some really special capabilities and I wanted to put my skills as a designer, and the abilities of the printer, to the test.

The Makerbot Z18 is easily one of the largest consumer grade printers available.  It can print within a 18 by 12 by 12 inch build volume. That’s one and a half square feet!  I challenged myself to build a model of UConn’s School of Business and then 3D print it to the largest size possible.

I started on Google maps and traced out the School of Business onto a template. Then I walked outside the school and took pictures of its notable features.  It took several days for me to capture the details of the building, such as cutting out windows and creating the overhanging roof, in order to make the building an accurate model.  I even hollowed out the model so that it could accomodate a microcontroller or LEDs if we wanted to use some IoT technology to upgrade the project.

Printing the behemoth of a project was a challenge.  The entire design printed on its side so that it could use nearly all of the Z18’s build volume, and even at full efficiency it was estimated to take 114 hours to print. I contemplated cutting it into two pieces and printing them separately, but it would be so much cooler to use the full size of the printer. It took several tries before I was able to print the School of Business in one shot. After several broken filament rolls and failed prints, the entire school was finished.

This project gave me great insight into the manufacturing problems faced by using 3D printing technology to produce exceedingly large parts. This model used about 3 pounds of filament and really pushed the limits of the technology.  A miniature School of Business was not only a great showcase for the OPIM Department and for OPIM Innovate, but it was a testament to the future of technology. Maybe in the future buildings will actually be 3D printed. It will be super exciting to see how this technology, and the CAD softwares that compliment it, evolve moving forward.

By: Evan Gentile, Senior, MEM Major