Harper College seeks community partners for 3D printed toy drive
This season, Harper College's IDEAShop Makerspace and Entrepreneur Center is turning itself into a high-tech Santa's workshop. Jeff Moy, who manages the space, is leading a drive to use 3D printers to make toys for area children as part of 3D Printed Toys for Tots 2021.
The project, which makes toys for kids who might not otherwise receive them this holiday season, is the brainchild of IC3D Industries in Columbus, Ohio. Harper is a hub for IC3D's program. The college is raising money and recruiting volunteers, with plans to donate the finished toys to the area U.S. Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots chapter and other local community organizations.
The IDEAShop is recruiting organizations and individuals with 3D printers to help the effort. The plan is to make at least 5,000 toys by Dec. 15, but with the help of volunteers, Moy hopes to exceed that goal.
"I'm always looking for social programs that help support different needs," Moy said. "That's what I do here: try to find ways to give back to society."
Harper's Business and Entrepreneurship Club is participating in the project via a crowdfunding campaign. Representatives of area public libraries are helping to recruit volunteers and make toys, too.
Harper will provide models of toys to volunteers. Many of the toys are flexible and move sort of like a snake. Moy showed off a lizard and a stegosaurus. Printers can make a triceratops or car (which rolls instead of wiggles), dolphins and unicorns -- 13 designs total. Toys range in size, but most are about 5 inches long, and each takes an hour or two to print.
Thanks to a grant from earlier this year, some of Harper's toys will be made with recycled plastic.
"The world has way too much plastic waste," Moy said. "It's a common problem throughout the world. What do we do about it? One of the growing generators of plastic waste is 3D printing."
Thanks to the 2021-22 Resource for Excellence Grant from the Harper College Educational Foundation, the IDEAShop created a program called Saving Our Planet From Plastic Waste to address this problem.
Volunteers interested in helping Harper make toys this season can find more information online, including an application. The IDEAShop has a limited supply of 3D printer material, called filament, that can be provided to volunteers.
"The goal is to bring smiles to thousands of kids' faces," Moy said, "and I need our community's help."