Making Across Generations

A UNT MindSpark Podcast episode in our Maker Mindset series.

Join the MindSpark Podcast team on a journey to explore maker mindsets across generations. We’ll speak to a multigenerational family who instilled a tinkering, explorative approach to navigating the world and mindset in their home. In this episode our guest will talk about the ways creating and making have influenced them and their family.


Hosted By JP Abah, Sound Production: Steven Sparkman

Guest: Raul Flores, Pamela Flores, Hanna Flores

Mirrex Weaving Looms

Written by: D. Da Costa Spark Specialist UNT Senior Mechanical and Energy Engineering

Hello there! If you are interested in weaving and weaving accessories, you are in the right place. Whether you are interested in large-scale weaving, or something smaller, here you can find information that will help you understand the weaving process with Mirrix Looms.

Mirrix Loom with Sheading Device

At the UNT Spark, we have 2 Mirrix weaving looms available for students to check out. Here we have our 16-inch big sister loom and 12-inch little guy loom, which are perfect for a wide variety of projects. Seen in the image below is our 16-inch loom, which is better for larger projects, and our 12-inch loom, more suitable for smaller projects.

16” Big Sister Loom Located at The Spark

12” Little Guy Loom Located at The Spark

Before diving into the process of weaving, it is important to know all the pieces included in the weaving loom and their purpose.

Labeled Parts in Mirrix Kit for Reference

First, we have the main body of the loom, which includes the top beam, warp coil tray, copper sidebars, wooden clips, threaded rods, wing-nuts, bottom beam, and fold-out legs. It is important to note that this set-up will be the same for the two sizes of looms provided by the Spark, and this is the main piece of equipment needed for weaving.

The next important piece of this assembly is the shedding device. Although it is optional to use during the weaving process, it is a great tool for those who are just starting and simplifies weaving. The purpose of this shedding device is to separate top and bottom warp threads for the weft to be woven through. This device will sit in the slots on the wooden clips and be held in place by the small circular discs on the wooden clips. To activate the shedding device, a shedding device handle will be used to move the warping thread forward and backward.

Following this is the warping and spring bar. The warping bar is basically where you will loop your warping threads to complete your warp. Not only will the warp loop around the bar, but also the main body. Additionally, the springs located at the top and bottom of the main body will be used for separating the warping threads an equal distance apart, and a spring bar will be used to hold the thread down while in the spring.

Warp and Weft are the thread/yarn being turned into fabric through the weaving process. Warp is usually longitudinally placed in tension on the main body of the loom and remains stationary throughout weaving. Weft is the thread being woven in a transverse direction over and under the warp threads. These are the main components that transform the thread into fabric.

Visual of Warp and Weft Threads

Finally, the last piece of equipment utilized in this kit is heddles. Heddles are attached to each warp thread on the loom and connect the warp to the shedding device.  Heddles are the tool used to bring the warp thread pattern in and out, making them a key piece of equipment when using the shedding device. The great thing about heddles is that they are easy to make out of thread or cord, so if you run out you can always make more.

Heddles on Shedding Bar

It is best to familiarize yourself with all the equipment provided in the Mirrix kits for a successful looming experience. Learning about the loom base, shedding bar, heddles, warps, and wefts is a great place to start before weaving.

If you have any questions or want to get started weaving, head over to The Spark located in room 135 at Willis Library and talk to one of our specialists or email us at Thank you!

Meet Specialist Mikey

Hello! My name is Mikey Heins and I am a junior Fine Arts major concentrating in Photography here at UNT. My passions are art and technology, and I love combining the two whenever possible. I have always been interested in tinkering, making, and learning, with fond memories of staying up late as a kid watching the legendary Make Magazine instructional videos on YouTube. I spent many hours in my youth working on projects on my bedroom floor (as indicated by the many stains, dried glue, and burns on that poor carpet), ranging from circuitry, woodworking, and crude robots. I got my first Raspberry Pi (a teeny credit-card sized computer) around 6th grade, opening the doors to the magic of programming! I joined a First Robotics Competition team during my freshman year of high school, which is where I believe I grew and learned the most. For all four years, I worked endlessly with my team to create from scratch, our very own robots to compete in difficult challenges.

Here is an in-progress picture of one of my favorites:

A truly giant RC car, complete with independent wheel suspension. As the programming and electronics captain, it was my job to make sure our robot could follow commands, complete tasks, and speed through the course to victory. My time at the UNT Makerspace has been an absolute joy, constantly being surrounded by state-of-the-art equipment, brilliant thinkers, and genuine curiosity. I am grateful to be a part of this “making” community, and as always I hope others can find a new passion through working and learning with us as well.

Written By: M. Heins

Support on 3D Prints

What are supports?

Supports are extra plastic material printed on or around the object you are printing to help make it print and look better.


When do you need supports?

It is best to use supports when printing an object that has overhangs greater than 45 degrees. Overhangs are a diagonal part of the print where some of the top layer is printed on top of the bottom, and the rest goes past the previous layer with nothing underneath. The steeper the overhang means more material will be printed with nothing under it, causing it to droop, and create a poor surface of the part. Supports give the part something to for the object to print on when it moves past the previous layer. This holds up the parts to reduce the drooping effect as much as possible and allow the object to retain its intended shape.

Overhang example:

Drooping effect:

Object with overhang (without and with support):

How to reduce supports?

Supports are useful, but they increase the time it takes to print an object and increases the amount of material you must consume per part. Reducing supports can help save you time, material, and money. Here are some ways to reduce supports for your parts:

One option is to reduce the layer height you are printing the object with. Layer height is the vertical thickness of each individual layer of the print. When you have a smaller layer height, the layer does not have to extend as far out with each layer when there is an overhang. This makes printing the overhang easier for the printer without support because more of the layer will be printed on the layer before it, improving quality. The downside to this is printing with smaller layer heights takes much longer for the object to print because the nozzle is having to complete many more travel moves.

(Each level represents a single layer on both sides. You can see how far off out each layer must travel on the left. When the layer height is reduced on the right, a much smaller outward distance is traveled by each layer.)

Another option is to alter the object itself to include as little overhangs as possible that exceed 45 degrees. If you were the one who designed the part, that makes it very easy to go in and edit the original file. If the file is an object you found online, that makes it slightly more difficult to make the alterations you need. Having overhangs over 45 degrees is not a deal breaker, all it means is you will need to do a little more work getting the part to come out how you want it.

One more option is to experiment with the object’s orientation. Orientation is the position in which the object will rest on the print bed. By changing the objects orientation, you are also changing the overhang angles without altering the shape of the object. With certain objects, you may be able to remove all overhangs simply by changing the orientation.


the vertical pillars represent support material. For A. there is very little support, but still some at the base. By rotating the object 180 degrees B. can print with no support at all, and no change to the objects shape. C. can still print, but it was rotated in such a way that even more support material is added than necessary, so be careful that you are printing in the best orientation possible.)

What are some problems with supports?

The biggest issue with supports comes with post-processing. Post-processing is the extra work you need to do to the object after it is done printing to make it look like it is supposed to. When printing with support, you need to manually remove it from the print, it does not simply go away when done. If your support settings are not well set, the support can almost seem glued to the object, and you can spend large amounts of time chipping that support material away until it is all off. If your settings are better set, then once you remove the object from your build plate you may be able to hold the object in one hand and pull the support material off in other with one motion. Dialing in you print settings takes time, along with trial and error, but once you can make it work for you it can save you a lot of time overall.


Another issue is surface quality. Yes, support helps with drooping to improve surface quality, but it is also sticking to your object. Once that material is removed from the object, wherever the support was touching will leave a scar on the object from being pulled off. A way around this is to finish the surface with sandpaper/other abrasives or paint the object to smooth it out.

Lastly, one problem with supports is environmental. The support material, after being taken off the object, becomes waste and is thrown away. That is extra plastic that you are using that serves no function and goes straight into the trash after printing. That being said, the most common 3D printing filament is PLA, which is a starch-based plastic derived from plants, meaning it is biodegradable. This is not the case for most others however, so keep that in mind when printing with other types of materials.

One more Solution:

Some printers have more than one nozzle, meaning they can print more than one material at a time. There is water-soluble filament (meaning the filament can dissolve in water) that can be used as support material. You can print the object you want with one nozzle and material, while the water-soluble support material is printing through the other nozzle. Once the print is finished, you can take the entire print off the bed, place it in water, and the support material will dissolve away. This greatly reduces the hassle of post-processing and leaves a much better surface finish by eliminating the concern of scaring the surface when pulling the support material off the part. If this is a viable option for anyone with access to a dual head printer, I recommend this as the best way to print complex object and maintain the highest level of surface quality.


(Right image is the object after support material is dissolved. Left image shows to water-soluble filament still attached to the object)

Written by: K. Mortensen

Einscan Pro

The EinScan Pro is a portable 3D scanner that can serve a variety of purposes. It is compact and can be used handheld or mounted with the industrial pack that includes a turntable and a tripod mount.

It also supports a full-color scan by attaching the Color Pack that allows you to scan an object with the colors and materials included in the digital scan. The EinScan Pro can be used for creativity, reverse engineering, manufacturing, healthcare, and the list goes on.

Written By: A. Pacheco

Meet Lead Technician JP

Hey there! My name is JP. I’m a Lead technician at the makerspace and a Bachelor of Arts and Applied Science major here at UNT. Working at the makerspace over the last three years has really been a rewarding experience for me. I have access to several types of creative tools, resources, and equipment that I just can’t find or have access to anywhere else on campus. A lot of my work at the makerspace revolves around 3D printing, CNC routing, 3D modeling, 3D scanning, project planning, and team development. What’s more, is I’m constantly surrounded by creative coworkers and students that are usually working on something I can learn.

Over the past year, I got to work on several projects for the makerspace, and I’ll highlight one of the interesting ones below. This project was to help an MFA candidate create one of the sculptures for her art exhibition at the Union Art Gallery. Her installation combined traditional Chinese ceramic making and digital fabrication processes. I was able to use the vacuum forming machine to create the object. The photo on the left is the vacuum form we created, and the one on the right is her final installation titled Balance of Power, 2019.


I also got to create an infinity mirror for our Magic of Making event. Creating this mirror took a little more time than it should, but it was worth the wait. I mostly used a thin metal rod, scrap wood, spray paint, LEDs, and mirrors. Although it wasn’t finished in time for the event, it makes for a good display piece at the makerspace.


Right now, one of my main projects is hosting the makerspaces’ debut podcast. We’re done with recording our first episode and are now laying down the groundwork for future episodes. In the first episode, I spoke with our manager Judy Hunter on Makerspaces. Our conversation expanded on topics like the maker movement, the importance of makerspaces in our educational system, and how to get kids and young adults interested in their potential to create. Steven did an amazing job with editing and producing, so tune in for more information on the podcast.

The makerspace is a wonderful resource for students looking to create and learn new things or simply come to enjoy the things other people have made. Until next time, this is JP signing off.

Written By: J. Abah


Ever wanted to feel like a mad-programming genius? Arduino gives you the opportunity by simulating and creating an interactive environment for individuals of all skill levels.


Arduino came into play in 2003 at the Interactive Design Institute Ivrea, Italy. The project was meant to provide a low-cost interactive way to simulate large scale projects. Wiring was the first board that was drafted consisting of a printed circuit board (PCB) and an ATmega168 microcontroller with some basic library functions. Now a 32-bit board, an ATmega328P, 14 Digital I/O pins with a 5V operating voltage.

First Arduino prototype named “Wiring Lite” 2003

Current Arduino Uno since 2016


Some simple projects can include LED lights and resistors. Making an LED light blink is one of the simplest projects one can do. Other projects can be creating a system where a house plant can “sing” when touched, door alarms, pet feeders, and robots! As long as creativity exists, projects will flourish.

Blinking LED sketch

Arduino soon became a hobby for many people of all skill levels not necessarily just engineers. Fun fact about the name Arduino, the 5 founders consistently met up at a bar in Ivrea, Italy called “Bar di Re Arduino” so to honor the place of origin, Arduino became the namesake.

Come by the Spark and check out one of our Arduino starter kits and see where your creativity takes you.

Written By: E. Lopez


This blog post is about a CNC (Computer Numeric Control). When I joined the Makerspace, X-carve was called Shapeoko. It had a 500mm in XY and a 100mm in Z height. During the summer of 2019, I upgraded the Shapeoko to an X-Carve. It was a much better and efficient system. The upgrade involved taking apart Shapeoko completely and rebuilding from the ground up using different parts. 

The main upgrade component was the drivers and the board for the CNC. The X-controller had motor divers and a motherboard built-in, which made the build a little easier. Then, we used stronger and better aluminum profiles to replace the current ones. The new profiles had dual rails so it can run two V-groove wheels on both sides. This improves precision and reduces friction within the axis.

Lastly, I used a 48V independent spindle. This makes it easier to control the spindle. Spindle specs are so much better than the standard X-carve spindle. The standard running RPM is 12,000. The upgrade is complete as of now, and X-carve had its first project lined up while it was in the works. UNT Libraries requested 50 Power outlet faces milled. X-carve successfully completed the whole project just after the day that it was built.

Written By: T. Weerasinghe