Circuit Assemblies are electronic modules that can be embedded in 3D prints to make them light up, move and spin.
As part of our effort to bridge the worlds of 3D design and electronics, we wanted to consider what electronics would look like in the Tinkercad 3D editor.
How might we combine electronics with 3D design to help kids create interactive things?
I began by interviewing several elementary and middle school teachers about how they introduce electronic to students today, uncovering a few trends:
personalized simple circuits
Kids often use the same underlying basic circuits, such as powering an LED, but customize them through the use of craft materials to make them their own.
rubber bands and hot glue
Electronics are hard to attach to projects – students often resort to hot glue, rubber bands, or other temporary fasteners.
components over kits
Components are a fraction of the cost of kits. Using components also gives students a way to transition to breadboarding.
Using the insights from my conversations with teachers, I designed a set of electronic modules called Circuit Assemblies that can be easily embeded in 3D prints.
I started with a simple module combining an LED and battery that users could integrate into their designs to make them light up.
I designing the 3D component so that it had built in tolerance for fitting in a design, regardless of print settings.
Using the Tinkercad 3D editor, users can group "cutouts" with their design to create the cavity needed to insert the circuit assembly modules.
After Glow, we added a few additional circuit assemblies, including Move and Spin.
I also collaborated with educator Erik Naumann on designing a programmable Circuit Assembly incorporating a 3D-printed Arduino shield for a Neopixel:
Based on the positive reception, we extended the 3D editor to include popular electronic components that users could embed into their projects. Thanks to Lindsey Epstein, the awesome intern who helped model the parts!
in the wild
It was super fun to do workshops with kids and teachers trying out Circuit Assemblies, and then to see all the creative examples people built once the feature was released!
Here are a few found in the wild, through the power of the Internet.
I absolutely love the entry of this creature my students call a dancing shrek eating a banana. Thanks to @scientiffic for introducing me to circuit assemblies in @tinkercad. I was delighted to watch students remixing and creating their own versions. #seedsstudiolab @AceraSchool pic.twitter.com/X0zS3LrzFB— Alisha Collins (@CuriousAlishaCo) August 31, 2018
BOOM. Absolutely stunning. First run, no support, no issues whatsoever. Kid's got talent.#ProjectGLOW #LOTR #MinasTirith #3Dprint #HobbitLife— Jason Hubbard (@jsnhubbard) April 25, 2019
Stay tuned for @thingiverse and @tinkercad links soon...this 6th grader needs published! pic.twitter.com/Lq5F5CdWq0
Origami art installation at Smithsonian @airandspace Teacher Innovator Institute. Participants sharing their #MakerEd journey over the past year w/ hand drawn panel illuminated w/ @tinkercad glow module. #FabLearn #MakerspaceLife pic.twitter.com/LySvnJhSJp— DesignMakeTeach (@DesignMakeTeach) July 12, 2019