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  • by Chiquita Lee

You Can Teach an Old Dog New Trix

Each of us are born with a set of circumstances and upbringing that help to shape our worldview. It's almost like we are born with a predetermined cookie-cutter. If we are star cookie-cutters, we'll cut shapes of stars. If we are heart cookie-cutters, we'll cut shapes of hearts. In other words, whatever we look for in life, we will find. This is so predictable! How to live life with more surprises?

I think it is important to do uncomfortable things every once in awhile. I never thought I could learn 3D printing. The correct term is rapid prototyping. It is so hard, I keep thinking to myself. It is so easy to buy readymade cookie-cutters and take the short cut. I tried to learn from the prototype teacher at school. But it is really hard to take classes outside your major. The professor was generous with his time to teach me and show me where I can learn on my own.

At, you can sign up for a yearlong of classes at a reasonable student price of $75.00. I watched several tutorials, but it's hard to keep myself motivated watching videos. My friend showed me how to make homemade cookie-cutters through YouTube videos. It was so easy that I wanted to forget the whole 3D printing business. But my teacher-mentor pressed on. "It's a good skill to have," he said. Everyone gives him the utmost respect. Whatever he suggests, we automatically want to do it.

While talking to a friend, I got the idea of, in additional to making a cookbook for doggie biscuits, use the recipes/ lessons as a way to teach kids or adults how to do 3D printing. That idea sounds so good to me. I used to be a teacher, so my teacher mode kicked in.

"I have to teach someone how to do this. I better learn how to do it now."

I watched a plethora tutorials by this guy called "3D printing nerd." Little by little, using photoshop and illustrator, I built my first file for prototyping.

It was so neat to rotate an object all around on screen. A good friend offered to have it printed for me. A setback came about when I held my first prototype in my hand. The outer perimeter or the cutter part of the pineapple didn't print. The walls were too thin. Anyhow, I thickened the walls and had it reprinted with the FDM printer at school. FDM is the process for sturdy prototypes like cookie-cutters.

The product of pineapple cookies may not seem very special on the surface, but it means the world to me. It reminded me the process of learning, struggling, failing, and trying again. I'm so glad my teacher asked me to keep at it. A whole world of 3D printing open to me. Now, I literally am not confined by any single cookie-cutter shape, I can easily make any shape I want.

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