3D Printing At Discovery Charter School – Part 2

<< Part 1

By David Lewis

This weekend we got the rest of the physical build completed on the RapMan printer for the mini-lab at the school and were just down to doing the wiring. There is still a chance that we will be able to get the printer to school before the end of classes on Wednesday and do a short demonstration. Riley had one of his close friends over for the entire day Sunday to work on the project. It really is fun to watch a couple of 13-year-old’s dive into a project like this and literally spend hours building the various components and figuring out what the instructions really mean.

Having Vernon with us was great as a second set of eyes on both the plans and the on the actual work. Several times Vernon and Riley caught each other making small mistakes and were able to quickly correct those errors before they got built into the printer.

A crucial point of enthusiasm for the builders was the fact that were building a genuine working robot that would actually make rapid prototypes which can be used to determine part fits or in large assembly builds. This is huge step beyond Lego Robotics and has captured the students’ imagination. The builders here have also learned a lot about the importance of precision, patience and planning in the process of this build. For a couple of 13-year-olds to put as many consecutive hours in to a project as they have and for them to have overcome a number of obstacles means that they are learning additional  skills for life.

The next step was to get the wiring attached correctly. This, like the original build, appeared to be a daunting task for the guys and they had to be reminded that the original build looked really complex at the beginning as well.  They needed to read the direction three times and to work without too much joking around if we were going to power this up on Tuesday evening.

Monday evening we tackled the wiring for the RapMan 3.1 printer and after carefully reviewing all the different segments on how to do the wiring, staring intently at 300% blowups of the schematics and ensuring we had cold soda at hand, we dove in. 30 minutes later it was done and we were ready to mount the circuit board to the frame.

This went a lot faster than originally anticipated – mostly due to the excellent labeling of the connections on the circuit board. It also went faster because we were smart enough to label each bundle of wires as we pulled it through the conduit.

Tuesday evening we will power it up and see how we did.

Part 3 >>