The MakerBot Thingiverse community recently issued a Back-to-School Design Challenge to design everyday school supply staples—the traditional pencil case, ruler, and pencil topper. It can be fun and inspiring to see what our future engineers and designers develop, so here is a look at the winning entries.
While the modern day pencil owes its roots to the ancient Roman stylus, and the origin of the pencil case dates back to 1860, the ruler dates even farther back to 2400 BC. The MakerBot Thingiverse users took a look and used 3D design and 3D printing to make them more innovative and inspiring. More than 75 designs were entered in the challenge where entrants submitted designs for #backtoschool.
Submissions were judged in three criteria: Coolest, Most Useful and Best Design. Coolest was decided by the reaction of the Thingiverse community and judges and the overall “Wow” factor. Most Useful was based on clever design applications; and Best Design took into account appearance and function. All entrants had to create designs for all three items and upload the designs to the same “Thing” page and tag them #backtoschool. Mashing two or three of the objects into a multi-use tool was a very popular approach and created some innovative designs.
Back-to-School Challenge Finalists are:
Coolest: The Coolest Thingiverse Back-to-School Challenge winner is the Retro Rocket Pencil Case by Arnold Martin. His 1960s rocket design with folding ruler, which shows units in centimeters and light years, opens up to become a pencil case that is actually a fancy carousel that holds a pencil collection and snaps neatly into place. Not to mention the rocket shaped pencil toppers.
Most Useful: The Back to Basics Drafting Set by Adam Sbeglia won in the Most Useful category due to its intense focus on utility. The pencil case has two 30-6-90 degree triangles for drawing lines and angles, as well as tracing several radii. A protractor attaches to the case to serve as a handle too. The two pencil toppers snap together to create a compass. The ruler also has four scales: 1:10 and 1:50 engineering scale, and a 1:100 and 1:500 metric scale.
Best Design: Best design took into account appearance and function. A clear winner in this category was the Test Obliterator X800 + Eraser Thief + Yard Wand by Arjun M. The Test Obliterator has a pencil-reloading arm gauntlet that fits over your arm and ejects a new pencil when the top is twisted. The Eraser Thief viciously scoops eraser material from fancy block-style erasers and puts the eraser on the top of your pencil for an over-size and extremely functional eraser, and the Yard Wand extends to three yards! Not only is this school set functional in the most extreme situations, but it was just a downright awesome example of engineering.
Winners of each category receive five (5) spools of the newest MakerBot PLA Filament, including some of the beautiful new MakerBot Translucent Filament colors, a Thingiverse t-shirt, featured placement of their designs on Thingiverse.com, and actual print-outs of their designs showcased at the MakerBot Store in New York City.
“As a former teacher, I know first-hand how important it is to inspire students,” noted Bre Pettis, CEO of MakerBot. “If providing students with a 3D designed and printed pencil case, ruler, and cool pencil topper helps inspire students to look at everyday items differently, then it may also cause them to look at the world differently. Instead of saying, ‘that item has been around for centuries and it works just fine,’ they will say instead, ‘I think I can make that work even better!’”