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LEO the Maker Prince

LEO the Maker Prince

How do we inspire children with the possibilities of 3d printing?

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When Smart Design alumna Carla Diana opened her studio in 2013, the maker movement was just hitting the mainstream.

STEM education was making waves, 3D printers were becoming cheaper, and technology had the potential to disrupt the world as we knew it.

"LEO the Maker Prince" is a children's book about 3D printing, exploring a fantasy world of objects and technology with a nod to Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It tells the story of an accountant's chance encounter with a friendly 3D-printing robot, who shows her the myriad possibilities of the technology.

 
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The small size of Carla Diana Studio (later Together We Make) meant that I had the opportunity to take part in many aspects of the development process. During the digital product development phase, I took part in ideation sessions, tested new 3D printing methods, and under Carla's management, I was given responsibility for developing the musical instruments and microgreens planter featured in the final book.

 

A lot of what we wanted to make was still unheard of on Thingiverse or the web. The musical instruments especially demanded innovation on our part to make them just right.

 

The bulk of the book's product development took place in a six-month period, exposing me to agile workflows and the experience of hiring and connecting multiple freelancers to bring a product together in a limited timeframe. Working with Carla also opened up a whole world of technology and Internet-fuelled optimism to me, which influenced my later work.

 The rubber band guitar shown here is actually a "kantele," a Finnish string instrument. It has working cams to tune the rubber band strings. Also shown are a clapper (middle) and percussion shaker (right) that can be filled with rice mid-print.

The rubber band guitar shown here is actually a "kantele," a Finnish string instrument. It has working cams to tune the rubber band strings. Also shown are a clapper (middle) and percussion shaker (right) that can be filled with rice mid-print.

 The microgreens planter is designed to self-water, and fits over a custom-made cabinet knob (not pictured) that turns it into a hanging pot and a kitchen handle at the same time.

The microgreens planter is designed to self-water, and fits over a custom-made cabinet knob (not pictured) that turns it into a hanging pot and a kitchen handle at the same time.

 Carla's characters (from left: the sheep, mini Carla, and LEO the robot) have been printed in labs and libraries around the world. These, along with the other designs featured in the book, can be printed and assembled on a home machine.

Carla's characters (from left: the sheep, mini Carla, and LEO the robot) have been printed in labs and libraries around the world. These, along with the other designs featured in the book, can be printed and assembled on a home machine.

You can find out more about "LEO the Maker Prince" here, or find it on Amazon.