A University of Arkansas – Fort Smith student was able to fuse his love of science fiction with his talent in three-dimensional design this semester when he conceptualized, designed and 3D-printed the base of a lightsaber as part of his studies at UAFS.
Andrew Bonin of Greenwood, a computer graphic technology major and a graduate of Faith High School in Fort Smith, completed the lightsaber as part of a research project he presented at the Student Research Symposium last month, but he began working on digital designs of the lightsaber earlier in his college career.
“For my project, I wanted to do something that I would enjoy,” he said. “I grew up watching ‘Star Wars,’ and in one of my first semesters, I had done a final project which was drafting an isometric view of a lightsaber in AutoCad, computer-aided design and drafting software. That inspired me to create a three-dimensional model of a lightsaber in another software program.”
Bonin spent a month-and-a-half on the project and faced roadblocks along the way. Namely, he realized that he wouldn’t be able to print the lightsaber in one piece – instead, he would have to print off several different components and assemble them.
“I had researched similar ideas that other people had done where they designed and printed multiple small pieces of the lightsaber and attached them using adhesive,” he said. “But I wanted to do something different. I wanted to design the lightsaber so that when the parts are printed you could assemble and disassemble them without using adhesive.”
Bonin achieved his goal with help from his professors, who provided guidance along the way.
“My professors were very supportive of my ideas and designs and advised me on aspects of 3D printers and how to adjust my calculations so that when printed, the parts would have leeway for imperfections in the 3D printing process,” Bonin said. “After the parts were printed and many hours of sanding and prep work, the parts fit great. In some ways the imperfections of the 3D printing process made it fit better.”
“I had no expectations when I went to the symposium,” he continued. “I was surprised by the overwhelming positive response from everyone who attended. After all the work I put into the lightsaber, when it was done I felt like I was already holding my trophy.”
Bonin graduated with his associate degree in computer graphic technology last week and plans to pursue a Bachelor of Applied Science from UAFS in the fall.
About the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is the premiere regional institution of Western Arkansas, connecting education with careers and serving as a driver of economic development and quality of place in the greater Fort Smith region. Through a small campus, dedicated professors, and the university’s unique bond with its community, students at UAFS are able to do more in the areas they are passionate about, both on- and off-campus, in a way that prepares them for post-graduate success. To find out how you can do more at UAFS, visit www.uafs.edu.