Believing that children are the future, Carla Diana, a technology-focused product designer, wrote the first children’s 3D printing book, LEO the Maker Prince. The book is about Carla, an accountant, who dreams of becoming a sculptor. After getting caught in a storm, she meets LEO, a robot, who inspires her to turn her drawings into a “real, physical, 3-dimensional object. As the story goes on, Carla meets seven characters who represent a possible future for 3D printing. The key takeaway is that she learns about all the possible things that could happen in the future and regains her desire to create,” Diana explained. LEO the Maker Prince teaches children and newcomers to use their imagination to create something tangible. This is why it was important for Diana to make her story visual, featuring illustrations and pictures of 3D printed objects and characters that can be downloaded and printed. This engages the reader by seeing the characters come to life when 3D printing them, while providing “a basic overview of what 3D printing is about. It was meant to get people excited about the possibilities that 3D printing offers and gives some inspiration on how they could use it in their everyday lives,” Diana said.
Diana mirrored her book after a childhood fable called The Little Prince written by Saint-Exupery. This book is about love, loneliness, friendship, loss, and a Little Prince who tries to teach adults to think outside of the box and use their imagination and creativity. “’The Little Prince’ takes his drawings and brings them to life through storytelling,” Diana explained.
Every now and then, she reads the book to remind her of the “importance of creativity and imagination.” This sparked an idea for her book to story tell using pictures to describe the words she wanted to convey. However, she wanted to turn her drawings into a “3-dimensional figure that could be held in my hands. The power and magic of 3D printing rests in the fact that by sharing a file, the characters in the story could eventually be held in the hands of the reader as well,” Diana said.
Since her book has been well received by the public, she has decided to write a series to “continue LEO and Carla’s adventures in 3D printing. Since one of the big hurdles of creating in 3D printing is knowing the modeling tools, I’m working on a sequel that not only features objects that can be made, but also a way to give readers more information about how to get started with 3D modeling,” Diana expressed. Excited about what the future holds for her and her book(s), she enjoys “being in touch with her readers and seeing the objects from the story materialize in places all over the world. Every week I am sent images of toys, characters, and objects from the book that readers have made who are cherishing them as a memory of the story, ” Diana said. Throughout her journey, she says that it has been a “really special way to have a relationship with an audience that keeps growing and spreading around the world.”. Although this is just one woman wanting to make a difference and start a 3D printing revolution in the lives of children, can you imagine how many 3D printing artists there are in the world that have gotten their inspiration through either a mentor, teacher, or simply reading a book? I challenge you to dedicate a 3D model to the person who encouraged you to keep on imagining and creating. Take a picture of you with your creation and write a thank you letter to them. You never know what’ll happen, but I guarantee you’ll put a smile on their face.