3D Printing At Discovery Charter School – Part 7

<< Part 6

By David Lewis

Integrating Skills & Maintenance

The printer is running fine and we have had a lot of use in the last 10 days with a number of students and their families along with some of the school staff stopping by The Lab as we move further into summer. You can see how much use we have been getting from the ABS shavings & dust that have built up in the extruder drive mechanism.

This is a result of printing a range of objects from  forks through gears (massive failure!) that the team has tried. What is fantastic is to watch the kids at all ranges of skill levels come together and explore how the use the system on their own. We have at least two families that are developing models at home and bringing the code over here (or e-mailing it) to print and debug. From and educator’s point of view, The Herd is a self-teaching entity that proposes designs, makes mistakes, figures out solutions and is learning the tools so well that they are able to teach others on the fly.

Here is the Morning Herd group photo from Saturday.

Most of the day on Saturday was devoted to working through SolidWorks design tutorials and trying our a couple of concepts like printing a school logo and printing the gears. The gears ended up being a pile of spaghetti as there were clearly challenges with translation of the code through Skeinforge to BfB readable files.

We were able to get another family running with the SolidWorks license and are looking forward to seeing some new designs after the holiday on Monday. Almost as much fun as getting the young people using this is seeing how many of the parents are getting excited and involved both with what their kids are doing and on a personal level since almost everyone is fascinated with the technology.

Even the Cobert Report has done a segment on 3D printing. They interviewed some guy named Bree.

Sunday Maintenance/Clean up

Since I have tried as much as possible to let The Herd run as loose as I could, I had managed not to notice the fact that they seem to love to pull the rafts apart and drop the “crumbs” all over the carpet.

So this morning we got out the leaf blower and cleared out all the bits from the workshop floor and table. We have developed a protocol that all stripping of rafts will take place over the waste can from now on and there will be floggings for those who leave bits all over the place. We also put away all the cups, small bowls and the like that The Herd had left on tables or shelves. It is amazing that four or five kids can use 8-12 cups in a single afternoon.

Then we moved on to maintanance of the RapMan. Not only was the extruder drive filling up with bits, we also noticed that there were a number of nuts & washers that have magically appeared on the print bed.

After finding homes for these orphans, we checked all the other fasteners and found a good number that had worked their way loose. We tightened and checked the RapMan for squareness before firing up the compressor to clean out all the crevices. Another protocol will be a daily check for loose parts and missing bits before we start work.  Finally we cleared the ABS crud out of the extruder.

Before compressor

After compressor

And we are ready to start another day designing!

As always, your humble chronicler………..

Part 7 >>