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Monthly Archives: May 2012


D&T erupts into Geography

It was one of those days today where a “magic moment” happened in school. Isn’t it just wonderful when this happens. One of my students who helped out with a presentation about 3D printing for a visitor earlier this week (see the earlier post “To baldly go”) came to see me about his Geography homework… Really strange as I’m a D&T teacher! It turned out that he had to do a project homework about how a volcano works.

This student had started to make connections in his mind. He now knows a bit about 3D printing and he did some independent research and stumbled across the teaching and learning resources I published on the BfB wiki http://wiki.bitsfrombytes.com/index.php/Geography_-_Mount_Saint_Helens_Volcano … So he downloaded the files and asked if we could print them… How could I refuse?

… And his Geography teacher was really pleased to receive models of Mt St Helen’s before and after it erupted.


What’s the catch? 3D scan for 3D print.

There is no catch…. Just feeble attempt at a “catchy” title for this post about Autodesk 123D Catch for pc and iPad.


Earlier in the week the 123D Catch app for the Ipad became available from the Apple app store in the UK… So I promptly downloaded and installed it. It was a parent/teacher meeting last night so I had to wait… Grrrr.

But tonight I had my first attempt… A pretty successfully too as you can see in the photos. And even more impressive is that it really is the very first attempt!


I did have a go at uploading pictures using the PC program but somehow never really got to grips with it. But the iPad app is a real dream, ok the app takes the photos and uploads them and then shows you a wonderful 3D representation of your object but you still need the PC version to download the mesh file in .obj format.


Anyway having downloaded the mesh you do meed to do a bit of editing. The mesh is not “watertight” and has a huge hole in the base. You will need a program to do this, I used netfabb basic but meshlab is another alternative. I found that slicing off the bottom (which looks very like a pizza on my scan) saved a lot of manipulation and triangle editing.


Once the mesh was ready (I only downloaded the medium quality by the way) I converted the file into gcode for my 3D Touch and printed a scaled down version as I was too impatient to wait for a big print.


Oh, and what is the object I scanned? It’s an antique plaster model of a hand borrowed from our Art Department… Thanks guys! Im not entirely certain but I think the hand is holding a borax cone. These cones used to be used by jewellers and the like, they ground the cone in a wet ceramic bowl to make a paste to use as flux for silver soldering. I used to do a bit of silversmithing so I just love this connection!


So, my next thoughts are… What do I scan next? How can I use this in school? And…..


To baldly go… (3D Printing)

If you take a look at the pictures in this post you will see what I mean… And I’m not being rude to Tim, I unashamedly “borrowed” some of the title for this post from him… And as you will will also see we are an almost matching pair!

Anyway, to get to the point… On Tuesday (29th May 2012) we were visited in school by Tim Rylands who was on a fact finding mission about 3D printing in schools for his keynote speech at the West of England ICT conference at UWE (University of the West of England) on 4th of July 2012. And where better to go than the D&T department at Clevedon School.

During Tim’s visit we were able to get a small group of year 9 (13 years old) students to lead him through the whole process from 3D CAD design through creating the g-code that drives our Bits from Bytes machines to actually printing their products. For a group of students who have only had about 10 hours of experience of Creo Parametric and a couple of hours on 3D printing they were absolutely fantastic. They gave a very clear and concise explanation and some very perceptive insights into the use of this technology in education…. Couldn’t have done better myself!

We also managed to squeeze in a bit of time explaining how we are looking at using iPads to create 3D virtual objects for 3D printing and also for laser cutting… There are some wonderful new apps available now, that do 3D scanning so “watch this space”, we could be one of the first schools doing this!

And finally…

So, who is Tim? …With over 25 years of classroom experience, in the UK, and beyond, Tim is now much in demand for training days, conferences and seminars around the world, presenting the results of his work in an inspiring, practical and often humorous way.

“Tim Rylands is an extremely gifted and inspirational teacher, with a love of the creative potential of technology and an excellent rapport with pupils”.




RapMan Corner


I have just uploaded a new Teaching and Learning resource onto the BfB wiki. This project is aimed at students who are studying STEM (particularly engineering or manufacturing) and can be easily adapted for different age ranges.

The project requires students to design and 3D print new corner blocks for the RapMan 3D printer… And also to package and market them.

And the best bit… This resource was designed and produced by Stephen Lewis from Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy… Fantastic to have a fellow educator thinking up new project ideas too.

The project can be downloaded free from the BfB wiki http://wiki.bitsfrombytes.com/index.php/RapMan_Corner_Upgrade

Thanks Stephen for your brilliant project.

Unplugged… iPad stand

Over the last week I have been introducing students to some iPad apps for 3D printing and laser cutting. To do this effectively I have been using our digital projector and a VGA to Apple dock connector cable (unfortunately I don’t have access to apple tv) … But it became more and more frustrating when the iPad moved on the table and the dock connector kept falling out… Note to self, I must get a longer VGA cable! But in the meantime I need another solution. So that’s why I’ve 3D printed a stand for my iPad. Maybe that will give me a more stable platform to work from and help prevent the cable from being pulled out… I’ll give it a try next week!

Being in a bit of a rush to get things done I didn’t have time to design the stand myself so after a browse on Thingiverse I found this one … So thanks to “Hobie” whose design can be found at http://www.thingiverse.com/thing23225


3D Scanning for 3D Printing..Free!


Some time ago Autodesk released 123D Catch, a free (beta), online service for creating 3D objects using just an ordinary digital camera. I couldn’t resist giving it a go! But I didn’t have great success, probably due to my impatience… I just didn’t take enough photos… You need to upload about 50 to 70 pictures!

Well it looks like the guys at Bits from Bytes (3D Systems) have been doing a bit of experimenting and judging by the above photo they have been more successful than me!

The BfB guys have also been looking at using a kinect camera to produce 3D objects using the free ReconstructMe software.. Wish I had one of those kinects to play with.

Anyway, if you are interested to give it a go yourself just have a look on the BfB website (just click the “support” button at the top of the homepage and select “technical resources”, scroll down to the bottom of the page for the links to the information).

Of course being “free” this is ideal for experimenting with in schools, I really must give it a go again. If you try it yourself or with your students why not let us know how you get on.

#3Dprinting video at Clevedon School

A few weeks ago a film crew from UWE (University of the West of England) came into school to make a “Breakfast TV” style program about 3D printing… Of course, where better to go than Clevedon School to interview Mr White and one of the GCSE Product Design students.

The program not only shows 3D Printing at Clevedon School but also some of the research taking place at UWE…. Can you believe that they are actually printing 3D objects with ice cream!

Anyway, here is the video clip… Watch out for Tyler and Mr White about half way through the video…. Enjoy!

And thanks to the guys at UWE for letting me use this clip.

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