3D Printing Fun out on the town.

The Royal Ontario Museum is following a recent trend of evening events hosted in museums (see the Queensland Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario & the Science Museum in London, among just a few!) – theirs is “ROM Friday Night Live“, and they’ve held a few series so far. I’ve attended a couple (I wish I could go every Friday, but it’s tough to make it work) and last Friday Adam and I went to the “Let’s Dance” themed evening. Each night is themed, and they usually do a pretty decent job at tying it all together with the galleries & special events – and it’s just fun being in the museum in the evening with all sorts of interesting stuff going on. Friday night saw Opera Atelier singers and ballet dancers, and later on some beatboxing and breakdancing down in the main hall while sneaker decorating was going on. A jazz quartet played in the geology gallery, there was a map of Toronto where you could pin your location, and upstairs Makelab were doing something thematically related to the special Mesopotamia exhibition currently showing. As soon as I saw “3D printing” mentioned in the program, we made a beeline for it and signed up for the first session.

After wandering the mammal gallery a little, sipping our adult beverages and giving the Scopify app a whirl (at first glance I found it pretty neat, but I would like to see the full scope – if you will), we made our way back to Makelab’s setup and started poking about on the iPads they handed us. Starting with a base, you could add any of the pre-fab structures they had in a gallery – arches, walls, stairs, ziggurats, columns – stuff of all sorts that would be home in Mesopotamia. I found it a little fiddly to maneuver the structure, but the helpers standing by were useful with tips on how to navigate and best move/resize/place stuff.

Once everyone in the session had finished their designs, they were saved to the cloud and someone was standing by to send them out to the half-dozen or so printers waiting. Each one was a marvelous little machine with a spool of basic white polymer (I guess? I didn’t find out exactly) that would feed into the machine, and be spit out into a wonderful little shape. The printer mine was sent to had some hitches, but Adam’s printed perfectly first time.

Here’s me with my finally printed little structure (and the monstrosity that happened the first try around when the printer was misbheaving – just like regular ink printers!):

My model, and mine and Adam’s on the city grid below that (the two frontmost).

Makelab are at the Friday Night Live ROM events until the end of the season – I’m going back on December 6th and I can’t wait to see the final grid of what people have made. It was a fantastic experience to get to see how 3D printing works, and it was fun to take part in that with the folks from Makelab who are super into it all. They’re also doing their printing stuff out in bars periodically, which is super awesome as well – I encourage you to attend if you’re in Toronto. Or just come along to a ROM Friday Night Live event before the end of their current season!

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