Hi, I'm Federica!

This is the online diary of my experience throughout the FABACADEMY 2018 at OpenDot, a FabLab based in Milan, and at FabLab Valsamoggia, the FabLab I'm associated to, in the countryside between Bologna and Modena.

I'm Federica Selleri, a 26-years-old girl from Bologna, Italy. I've a background as a Graphic and Web Designer as I've studied Graphic Design and Visual Communication at ISIA Urbino. Recently I'm graduated from the Free University of Bolzano/Bozen at the Master in Eco-Social Design, where I've focused on how can design help to act in a more sustainable way and to deal with contemporary issues in order to find creative and innovative solutions.
I'm very interested in the role of the design in the eduactional field, and I've investigated this topic in my Master Thesis suggesting the reuse of an abandoned countryhouse as an alternative learning environment based on experience in local territory and the use of new technologies. I want to keep experimenting on this topic, and I think that Fabacademy will help me in learning new competencies and getting in contact with new realities all around the world.
Here you can find some of my works as a graphic and web designer (and also other projects), and here

1 - Project Management

The very first exercise of the Fabacademy 2018 was the initial definition of our final project. We were asked to make initial skecthes of our final project idea, and try to schedule all the steps to arrive at the final prototype.

The idea

My idea is to create an educational tool that can be used in schools to help teachers and tutors to teach 3D modeling and programming in a simple way. I was thinking about the shape of this tool, because there are already a lot of products designed for this purpose. But most of them are just pre-designed complete kit that children and youngs have to build following instructions.

So I've tried to sketch a first rough draft of my idea, which consists in a blank physical character printed in 3D with an Arduino board inside, with LEDs and a small loudspeaker for playing MP3s.

First sketches of the final project
Very rough skecthes.

I've decided to focus on this idea of a blank character that can be customized because within the FabLab Valsamoggia we are establishing a collaboration with primary and secondary schools and their teachers. We're organizing some laboratories for children about 3D modeling and programming and I'm the tutor who is organizing them. So I've thought that this object could be a helpful and precious resource for these laboratories. It could also be a good way to bring outside what is designed and produced during this journey.

First sketches

I've used paper and pencil to put my ideas into concrete, and I've tried to define the shape of the character.

Sketches of the character
Other rough skecthes, with some notes.

It should be as basic as possible, to let children and other possible users to customize it, adding details and even accessories.

I've decided to create a sort of hole in the hands that can be used to insert things in it. Users can think of objects or other tools that can be part of the customization.

Personal website

Then we had to create our personal website where we're going to publish our works and to tell our journey to other participants of the Fabacademy, sharing our results and progresses.

Firstly, I've downloaded the Bootstrap folder from the website, and put it into the git folder in my local repository. Then I've created an empty .html file and started to develop the index page. I've chosen to use a single page in .html and a Bootstrap component that allowed me to

Setting of Git Repository

To put my website online I've set a Git repository connected to the Fabacademy general repository on Gitlab. I didn't need to download Git because I've had already installed it, so I've simply had to connect the local Fabacademy folder to the remote repository.

2 - Computer Aided Design

During this week assignment we were asked to try many different 2D and 3D softwares to sketch our idea for the final project.

2D vector drawings
Adobe Illustrator interface during the creation of the 2D drawings.

I've used my sketches as a basis to create a more defined shape of the character. I've started to do the 2D drawing with two different software, Adobe Illustrator and GIMP.

With Adobe Illustrator I've created the outline of the character, using vector drawing to create clean shapes.

Front view of the character
Front view of the character.
Back view of the character
Back view of the character.

3 - Computer-Controlled Cutting

For this assignment the goal was to learn how to set a laser cutter, and try to cutter something I've designed. I've also have to try to cut something using the vynil.

For the laser cutting, I've decided to create a sort of a logo for the character, in order to assign it an identity.

4 - Electronics Production

The assignment consisted in the setting of the milling machine and the milling of a PCB board, and then the programming of the circuit.

Firstly, I've downloaded the example of a circuit from the official Fabacademy tutorial: the internal traces and the external cut. The two files are basically PNG images, and we had to convert them in suitable files for the milling machine. Using Fab modules we managed the settings of the milling machine in the most precise way.

Interface of fabmodules.org with settings
Interface of fabmodules.org during the settings phase for the cut file.

Here's the process I've followed and the settings I've used:

  • icon name First, I've to upload on Fab modules the .png image I've downloaded previously (the one with just the traces).

    Upload of traces image in PNG
    Upload of traces image of the circuit in PNG.
    Upload of traces image in PNG
    Upload of traces image of the circuit in PNG.
    Upload of traces image in PNG
    Upload of traces image of the circuit in PNG.
    Upload of traces image in PNG
    Upload of traces image of the circuit in PNG.
  • icon name Then I've defined the type of output file I need.

    Upload of traces image in PNG
    Upload of traces image of the circuit in PNG.
  • icon name After the output, I've chosen the process.

    The chosen process is PCB outline 1/64.
    The chosen process is PCB traces 1/64.
  • icon name Then I've needed to define milling parameters, in order to get proper settings for my output. Firstly, I've defined the parameters that specify the position of the burin (the engraving tool in the milling machine).

    Settings for milling the traces
    You should be very careful while setting parameters, and you'll probably have to do several trials.

    icon nameThen I've set the parameters about the engraving tool I've decided to use, which is this one:

    Burin 0.4
    This is a 0.4 burin, I've discovered almost by chance that it was excellent for this work.

    And the parameters I've used:

    Settings for the burin
    Settings fot the chosen burin.

    icon name Be extremely careful in defining the depth parameter and the tool diameter. With the bulin you can't be so much sure about the dimension, so I've used a calipers to measure the diameter (the results was 2 millimeters, but with a burin you have to consider a larger size. I've set up 0.4 as tool diameter, and 0.05 as cut depth.

  • icon nameAfter that, I've generated the .rml file needed for the milling machine. Then I took a PCB to use for my very first trial. I've used double-sided tape to attach the board on the plate inside the milling machine.

    Tape under the PCB
    Double-sided tape under the PCB
  • icon name The second step was uploading the .rml file generated on Fab modules in the VPanel software connected with the milling machine.

    VPanel interface
    The interface of VPanel software.

    In the VPanel software, you have to define the origin point where the milling will start. By moving manually the X and Y axes you can choose the position on the PCB where the milling will start.

    Engraving tool
    Setting the position of engraving tool

    I've had also to define the third axis, Z, which defines the height of the cutting. This is a quite dangerous action, because you have to pay attention when the tip touches the PCB. Tips are fragile and if you press them too hard against the PCB (sometimes it happens while setting the origin of the axes X,Y,Z) they will break.

  • icon name After the setting phase,

    Milling machine in action
    Milling machine in action.

5 – 3D Printing and Scanning

The assignment about 3D printing and scanning has been made at FabLab Valsamoggia, because here it is possible to use a Faro Arm, a specific laser scanner for 3D objects.

icon name
My final project is related to my activity as Educational Tutor at FabLab Valsamoggia. Here I'm the supervisor of schools' projects, a collaboration betweeen the fablab and local schools of the metropolitan area of Bologna. We are organizing laboratories for primary and secondary schools about 3D modeling and coding using Arduino and Scratch, and we want to find a way to make it as funny as possible to engage pupils and make them passionate about these topics.
Here I'll publish a list of tools I've used during this experience.
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