From Bits to Atoms and Back


From Atoms to Bits and Back introduces the core conceit of fab labs: our physical world (atoms) is nearly as malleable as our digital world (bits), in an engaging fun workshop using 3-D printing and 3-D scanning technologies. Participants will make something with modeling clay, 3-D scan it, modify it using Meshmixer, and print their modification. And again and again! Optimally, there are myriad methodologies to resolve making any thing!


Critical to learning digital manufacturing is an understanding of the interaction between the computer’s digital world of bits and the physical world of atoms. Tools common to fab labs make atoms as malleable as computer files. From Atoms to Bits and Back introduces this concept in an engaging fun workshop using 3-D printing and scanning technologies. The workshop begins with a demonstration of the capabilities and limitations of PLA 3-D printers. 3-D printing, a process of additive manufacturing, is beginning to disrupt portions of the $10 trillion dollar global manufacturing industry (McKinsey Global Institute, “Manufacturing the future: The next era of global growth and innovation) as a tool for rapid prototyping and custom manufacturing and is often the first machine people ask to learn within fab labs. Next, everyone will make something from modeling clay (atoms) which they will in turn 3-D scan. A 3-D scanner is a device that generates digital models (bits) from the shape, textures and often colors of physical things. This technology is common to many industries including medical sciences, industrial design, virtual and augmented realities, video-game design and filmmaking. Next, using Meshmixer, a simple, free 3D modeling application, participants will learn to modify their models digitally and they will 3-D print (atoms) the new digital versions of their things. Although, having a new physical iteration of their things in hand is the official finish of the workshop, is it really the end? Each person could modify their prints with clay and 3-D scan them again or directly adjust aspects digitally before making another 3-D print. And again!



Learning Outcomes


This workshop will use the freely available applications linked in the "Downloads" section below. In order to hit the ground running, please download, install, and confirm their operation prior to the workshop. You will need to create no-strings-attached accounts online for some of the applications.



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