Interactive Membership Card

Makers UIUC is a hands-on design organization I founded in 2014 due an unmeet need I noticed: students didn’t have access to many hands-on design opportunites during the first few years of college. Freshmen engineers come in excited to start working on cool new projects, only to discover that most design courses don’t begin until the 3rd year, and many design groups only let upperclassmen do real project work. At Makers UIUC, students are encouraged to form teams and work on any project they’re interested in, regardless of experience or ability.

I designed a customizable card with rotating gears for members of Makers UIUC.

Solo Project

My Role: Designed gear mechanism and housing, designed connection mechanism, tested prototypes

Skills: Rapid Prototyping | Graphic Design | Gear Design

Animation of card functionality (Fusion 360)

Rendering of card design (Solidworks)


How can we design a membership token that relates to the purpose of our organization?

When Makers UIUC started collecting dues to be able to provide additional materials and resources, we wanted to give our members something physical in return. Other groups gave out t-shirts and hoodies, but that didn't feel like it really represented our organization. We wanted to do something fun and unique to express our appreciation for their committment to Makers UIUC. I had the idea for an interactive card when I saw similar designs on Thingiverse.


I chose a rotating gear design as it paired well with our logo, which contains a gear itself. The larger gear was designed to reach the edge of the card so that the mechanism could be turned using a finger.

Initially I had trouble getting the gears to turn smoothly, until I learned that gears can only mesh correctly if they have identical diametral pitches and pressure angles. With that information and an online gear generator, I was able to design a pair of meshing gears that fit perfectly into the design of the card.

To get the front and back pieces to stay together and hold the gears in place, I experimented with 3D printing snap fits. I chose tolerances that created a very tight fit because once the card was assembled, it didn't need to be taken apart. By 3D printing the design, the front of the card can be easily customized to any name. The text was designed as a cutout instead of extrusion to showcase the inner workings of the mechanism.

Exploded view of card assembly (Solidworks)

3D printed prototypes (MakerBot Replicator 2)


The interactive membership card allowed us to give our members a personalized gift that embodies the motto of Makers UIUC: Make and Inspire. It is inexpensive, easy to customize, and the designs can be shared so that members can print out as many as they want.