The designs here are from early in my undergraduate degree. I heard that there was free 3D printing in the basement of a campus library, so I took a Fusion 360 workshop so I could try it out myself. I had never used CAD software before; I didn’t even know that I was going to major in mechanical engineering. With only the most basic tools, I started mixing geometric and organic forms based on what I thought looked good. I wanted to make simplified animals, and I did. I found myself spending more time in the makerspace, so I learned how to use more of the tools. I got interested in lasercutting and combining materials to evoke different designs. 


I’m happy I started these with so little experience. Had I been “smarter,” I might have been afraid to use such large overhangs in my designs. Instead, I learned to deal with those things. After all, I was just playing around. Playing is where I get my best ideas; playing is what keeps me interested in engineering. If I couldn’t net some fun from each of my personal projects, then I’d have to ask: what’s the point?


This is the first animal I ever designed and the first thing I ever 3D printed. It's not necessarily my most impressive design, but it's special to me.


The holes in the ears are artifacts of a short-lived idea to put these on a hanging mobile.



I originally made this one as a gift for my little brother. He likes rhinos.


Remember what I said about how I might've changed my design style if I had been more experienced? Clearly this has some major printing difficulties, but the design is so nice to look at. 


I asked my freshman roommate what I should design next. His exact phrasing, if I recall correctly, was "I dunno, how about a lion?"


The central turtle came first, then I started asking myself what other shapes would be fun to make. The stepped turtle and ice-cream-cone turtle came next.


This one is arguably my coolest 3D printedd animal, at least from a CAD perspective. The whole form is lofted circles. It took quite a long time to nail in exactly right 


If you flip it upside down, you can spin on its head like a pointy, dangerous spinning top. 


I tried my hand at a few dinosaurs, but this is by far my favorite. I'm not sure if it shows in the photo, but the print quality on this is shockingly good. The design specialists in the makerspace were amazed.


This whale is a beast of a 3D print — it took up nearly the whole print bed. It's also the start of a series  I did on whales.

wooden whale

This was one of my first explorations into living hinges (the bendy corners) in lasercut wood. 

 multimaterial whale

Please excuse the lighting in this photo — the only one of these I ever made I gave to my dad as a birthday present. I mixed the base form of the wooden whale with acrylic sides (to reveal the form) and made an interchangeable 3D-printed spout. Even then, though, I don't know that it's the best wood-and-acrylic whale in this set.

wood-and-acrylic whale

This is by far the most realistic animal form I made in this series, although that could change in the future. I used the form a blue whale, with acrylic to highlight the main body and wood to highlight the balene and provide a little extra strucutre. I love this design.

wood-and-acrylic deer

This is probably the design that gets me the most compliments. The body is sturdy and simple acrylic, but the wooden antlers are delicate and intricate. If any of my designs deserved a real background, it was this.