Skip to main content.


IDEAStudio is a collaborative venture between the College of Engineering and the College of Visual and Performing Arts, sponsored by Norm "Chip" Hildreth (electrical engineering, '85) and Susan Hall (art education, '85).

The studio is a digital/multimedia space consisting of multiple computers with CAD programs, a 3D Scanner, a 3D printer, a laser engraver, and a full-length green screen wall for motion capture animation. Equipment is available to all UMass Dartmouth faculty and students with current IDs.

At the Hall Hildreth IDEAStudio, students can:

  • Rapidly prototype a design
  • Access animation and design software packages such as
    • SolidWorks  
    • Maya
    • Photoshop Creative Suite  
  • Mock-up a team project
  • Explore working with new materials
  • Collaborate with students and faculty from another college or department
  • Work on advanced and capstone projects

Access Policy

The Hall Hildreth IDEAStudio is open to UMass Dartmouth students and faculty with a current UMass Dartmouth ID during the open lab hours.

Contact for a tour and demo of the facility.

The Hall Hildreth IDEAStudio can be reserved for class demonstrations, filming, meetings and other class related activities under the supervision of faculty. Reservation is required one week in advance. Email reservation request to

Contact the CVPA Dean’s Office (508.999.9295) if you are interested in piloting an IDEAStudio project. 


  • Max build size: 8”x8”x12”
  • Material: ABS
  • Color: Ivory, Orange, Blue, Black, Red, Yellow
  • Printing fee: $4 per cubic inch (includes both model and support material)

Four CAD drawing stations are available to students and faculty during the open lab hours in the IDEAStudio, or you may bring StereoLithography (STL) file(s) on a USB drive. The studio technician will examine the file, and calculate the fee prior to printing. Fees must be paid at the pick up of the model.

Alternatively, you may submit STL file via email (

Specify the following with the request:

  • Resolution (high or low)
  • Density (solid, high-density, or low-density)
  • Color 

The technician will examine the file and calculate the cost, and inform you within 24 hours. Turn around time is one week or less.

Preparing a file for 3D printing:

The 3D printer will read STL file only. The drawing must be completely watertight, and make sure all poly-surfaces are meshed. If the form is open, not only it will not print properly, it could potentially cause problems to the 3D printer. While the tech will examine the file for you, the tech will not fix the file at the IDEAStudio. If you have questions regarding the mesh and how to create watertight form, consult guidebooks for programs you use.

*IDEAStudio is NOT responsible for corrupt file, incomplete mesh, or otherwise unprintable design. If you have multiple models to print, create STL file for each one of them. Do not combine multiple parts into one file. If you have any technical questions regarding your CAD drawing, please send an email.

  • Max surface area: 12”x24” (design max 11.75”x23.75”)
  • Material allowed: Masonite, MDF, plywood, Plexiglass, paper up to ¼” thick for cutting. (Consult technician if you are interested in other materials)

Four model creation stations are available to students and faculty during the open lab hours in the IDEAStudio, or you may bring a file in a USB drive. Alternately, you may submit a file via email ( 

Material to be cut/engraved must be brought in person to IDEAStudio. The turn-around time is one week or less.

The laser engraver is currently set up to cut and engrave from Rhinoceros, CorelDraw, and Illustrator. Email any technical questions regarding file preparation.

Preparing a file for laser engraving/cutting:

The laser engraver is currently set up to run from Rhinoceros, Illustrator, and CorelDraw. Caution: all line visible on a file will be cut! The line width is critical for identifying cutting vs. engraving. When using Illustrator and/or CorelDraw, you need to preset the page size to the actual cut that you are making. Line width will determine whether the line will be engraved or cut. Set cut-line to hairline (0.001pt), thicker for engraving. Any line visible will be either cut or engraved.

The NextEngine 3D Scanner HD available at the IDEAStudio has 3 options for scanning. An IDEAStudio technician will help you assemble the 3D scanner once you have decided which attachment you need, and instruct you in the use of the computer program. The attachments for the 3D scanner are as follows:

  • The AutoPositioner attachment works well for objects up to 1 foot in height. This attachment has 360 degrees of rotation and allows the user to automatically align the object.
  • The Dual-Axis AutoPositioner, or MultiDrive is useful for smaller objects, up to 6 inches in height. The auto Positioner can do a full 360 rotation and a tilt bounded to -35 to 45 degrees. This is useful for small, complicated objects, with nooks and crannies that the regular Auto Positioner would not accommodate easily.
  • For larger objects, the AutoPositioners can be detached, and the user can manually rotate the objected and do a series of single scans, and do manual alignments on the computer program. This option could potentially be used to scan any size object, if the user has the time.

All objects need to be marked with dots using the washable paint markers (available in the IDEAStudio) all across their surface for easy alignment through the computer program.

Dark, Shiny or Transparent objects need to be prepared using white hair spray (the kind you would buy for a Halloween costume) Talc powder is available in the IDEAStudio, but is not as effective as white hair spray.

The scanner does not easily scan radially symmetrical objects.

For further details on functioning and setup of the 3D scanner: Nextengine Desktop Manual.pdf


Visit us virtually

Visit us from anywhere, at any time.
Take a virtual tour of the UMass Dartmouth campus.