Our Design department has recently invested in three new 3D Printers and I’ve just ran them in to see how they compare to our previous model. We’ve gone for three MakerBots, which have rigid frames open at the front and on top, giving quick access to the print bed and easy viewing of prints in progress. I decided to print out an R2D2 in sections to test the print time and quality.
It was quite easy to download and prepare the models to print. Printing was quite noisy but setup was easy, it ran smoothly and the quality was above-average. My main concerns are around getting it to make students work. Laser cutters are robust and easy to use and so knock out lots and lots of student projects. As the 3D printers take hours to manufacture, I’m not sure how a KS3 group could make regular use of these. I have ran a scalextrix project previously (in another school) where students modified car body shells in Pro Engineer before 3D Printing into vacuum form shells for the cars. Laser cutters made the rest of the chassis and students added components bought from Scalextrix.
I printed the R2D2 shown below in six sections and glued it together- it stands at 10cm tall and took around 9 hours to manufacture.