3D Printing At Discovery Charter School – Part 4

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By David Lewis

School is out here in the Silicon Valley, the weather is hot (100F today) and the DCS crew is working with the RapMan and SolidWorks while frequent breaks for cooling drinks. We have gotten close to the final adjustments with the RapMan (drive axle has the FLATS Riley and the driven axle does not) and worked our way through the test items. Our first print of the mug was not too bad.

The mug did have a few defects as you can see in the first picture and it was a little lopsided too.

But after some adjustment of the belts and temperature, it was a pretty good little vessel that was liquid tight so that Riley could sip some orange soda to toast initial success.

The next step was to start attempting to create some simple designs in SolidWorks and print them out. Riley ran into a lot of questions that he had to work through about using Skeinforge to produce workable code. His first effort was a smiley-face coaster as a Father’s Day present.

This was where it was clear we had some belt slippage and that we needed to adjust temperature for the white ABS. After a lot of thought Riley coded up another coaster in SW and used the green ABS to print. This coaster has multiple levels and went from completely round at the base layer to almost American football shaped at the top layer. This one worked quite well.

We have a very fine raft under the coaster and three 2mm layers on top of the raft. The base layer is a really good circle (no small feat with a new printer) and the additional layers are increasingly elliptical by design.

This weekend we will have the first group of folks over to open the lab in what used to be my workshop.

In addition to the RapMan we have an HP 4600 workstation running a stripe RAID under Win7 with an NVIDIA Quadro card, an HP Pavilion Laptop with an NVIDIA GeForce card and of course, the GoBoxx with all the bells and whistles.

This will give us at least three workstations to do design at any given moment and the RapMan to print the designs as they are finished. The “house” PS also has SolidWorks on it running XP Pro with an ATI FirePro5800 card so it screams as well. Most of this equipment I picked up used from HP (cheap) or it was donated. At this point I have less than $300 USD into this lab and we have high hopes that it is going to get a lot of use over the summer and at school next fall.

Part 5 >>