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Monthly Archives: February 2011


3D Printing porcelain…. and potato…. and chocolate!

Earlier today I dropped into Bits from Bytes HQ in Clevedon and met up with someone I’ve been “talking” with on the BfB forum for well over a year. And what a fantastic meeting it turned out to be. Dries Verbruggen (known to many as “Unfold”) has come over from Belgium to spend a couple of days with the guys from BfB working on a design for a new RapMan extruder. Only this time it is for ceramics, potato and chocolate… or any other “paste” material. And it looks to me like they have hit upon a really interesting design…. The chocolate looked yummy too!

Dries is a really talented guy… not certain whether to call him an artist, designer or ??? and you can check out some of his work on his website http://www.unfold.be/pages/projects .

I can’t wait to get my hands on the new extruder when it goes into production… already I’m thinking of projects that we could do in schools.


You can see the RapMan printing clay and potato on YouTube




Student design booklet

Over the last year or so I have been posting project ideas for teachers/students to use for designing and making with RapMan and BfB3000 machines. But where do they do their design work?

Here is a booklet that can be used as a design portfolio, and it also includes self-assessment sheets for Personal Learning and Thinking Skills and the D&T National Curriculum (UK).

If you want to download the .pptx version so that students can fill it in electronically please visit the BfB wiki http://wiki.bitsfrombytes.com/index.php/Project_Booklet


BfB 3D printers and the UK National Curriculum

Just how does the use of RapMan and BfB3000 3D printers “fit” in the National Curriculum. This document has a few suggested ideas.


NC and BfB.pdf
Download this file


Health and Safety with BfB Machines

I’ve been updating some of the Health and Safety information for my department in school and realised that I didn’t have a risk assessment for using BfB machines…. So I wrote this.

As with all H&S documents it appears rather “scary”…. Don’t worry, BfB machines are really safe to use.

 If you use BfB machines you may wish to use it as the basis of your own risk assessments


generic Health and Safety V3.pdf
Download this file


An introduction to RapMan in Germany

Not many Advanced Skills Teachers in the UK can claim that their work is international. But in a way I suppose that’s what has been happening….

Over the last few months I have been sharing ideas with Andreas Seidl in Germany. Andreas, who I “met” via the BfB forum where he is known as “Normdom”, had seen much of the work I have been doing in an attempt to make RapMan and BfB3000 printers “accessible” to students… so he thought he would give it a go too. He approached one of the teachers from his old school to demonstrate his own RapMan and to talk about how it could be used in schools… and to cut a long story short, Andreas is now going to demonstrate  3D printing in action at the kreismedienzentrum (KMZ)  in Helibronn (KMZ = circular media centre).  Here is the main part of a recent e-mail Andreas sent me announcing his presentation.

It only remains to say…. Good Luck Andreas, hope it goes well and that all your hard work results in students in your part of Germany being able to use 3D printers in their schools.

Hi Dave,
Finally it is done! The official announcement of my presentation “3D-Druck in Aktion” at the KMZ Heilbronn is now online at the KMZ homepage and interested people can register themself to take part!
I’m sorry that i can’t provide you a English version, but i hope Google’s translator produces acceptable results (The layout seems to get a bit out of control)
Google Translator:
Also you will find attached the short to be released PDF invitation, that will be send to the schools soon, after the last review. Please apologize, that i can only provide a German version.
Most of the text is written by my teacher, i only provided some information and text fragments. Mr. Leuschner from the KMZ created from our source the PDF and online announcement.

Download this file


Convert an iPhone into a Satnav (for a bike)

One of my GCSE students (age 16) has decided that for his GCSE D&T Product Design exam he would make a device that would hold an iPhone on the handlebars of a mountain bike… and using a suitable app he could convert it into a satnav.

The images here are of the “just printed” parts for the mount and frame that attaches to the handlebars… the clips for fixing the iPhone and Velcro straps are to be added later.

The really impressive part in all this is that these are the first prints by this student and the completed project (including a design folio and photographic production log) will be about 20 hours of work.

When it is completed and mounted on his bike I will try to get him to take some more photos, so keep an eye open for part 2 a little later on.

William Morris would have used a RapMan…


Crossing Boundaries – Art (and Textiles)

One of my D&T A level students also does Art. … and being Aaron Thorogood, one of the students who came to Euromold with us, he wanted to see if he could use 3D printing in his coursework project. So, I have to give him some credit for coming up with the idea of block printing.

I sent him away to design a block using Pro/Engineer (Creo Elements/Pro) reminding him to make sure that he “flipped” the image. A few minutes later Aaron had produced the first design and converted it to g-code with Axon. Of course this was far too easy… we found that the letters didn’t print well (too skinny) so this is where the ability to design iteratively with RapMan and BfB3000 is so valuable… Aaron produced design version 2.

Armed with some block printing ink and one of those rubber rollers that artists use for this sort of thing we inked the surface, placed the block  between some MDF scraps and a bit of leather… and squished it in a metalwork vice.

It works!!!!

Ok, we need to do some more development work on this and maybe do some research but it looks like Aaron has come up with a winning idea.


I then started thinking about next steps and what this block printing know-how can be used for…. And my mind has started to wonder about printing textiles. After all William Morris (English Arts and Crafts movement 1880 -1910) used wood block printing for his beautiful designs.


Maybe a topic for a new Teaching and Learning resource in the BfB wiki soon??


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