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Monthly Archives: February 2013


Year 9 D&T CAD/CAM and #3dprinting

Some of my current Year 9 (12 years old) D&T projects are really progressing. Here in the photo are a couple of projects that are nearing completion of the practical work. These are the designs that have been 3D printed using one of the Bits from Bytes 3D printers (Hopefully more pictures will follow when some of the other projects are completed)

The students chose the area of D&T they wanted to specialise in for a 10 week block… And this group chose CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design / Computer Aided Manufacture). The students were set a task to design and make a “Bespoke USB Stick”. They have done most of the design work using CAD software (Creo Parametric, 123D Design or Inventor) and some have been very experimental and instead of designing using PC programs they have used the 123D Design app on their iPads…. Perhaps some of the first students to do this!

All the students in this group have chosen to record their work in an e-portfolio… Ok, not a real e-portfolio but using PowerPoint on a PC or Keynote on their iPads. Using the iPads has been very successful so far, it has meant that students have been able to photograph their paper based sketches and add them straight into their portfolio and screen shots of their work on PCs has been emailed to themselves for inclusion too…. As well as doing some of the actual design work in 123D Design.

It is really impressive how the students in these groups have embraced the use of new technologies (3D Printing and iPads) and incorporated this into their projects… Well done year 9!



Students not afraid to experiment with #3Dprinting

When designing for 3D printing I often find that students “push their luck” and sometimes incorporate features into their designs that even with several years experience in 3D printing I personally wouldn't even attempt.

Well that's exactly what happened this week. Some of my students are doing a tried and tested printing project that I have done with several groups … Design and make a bespoke USB stick case. Anyway, one of my students got carried away adding a surface texture of 1mm diameter bumps and a tiny hole (1mm square) right through the lid of his USB stick. I smiled to myself and warned the student that these wouldn't show on the final print…. And you've guessed it… They did! Each of the bumps is clearly visible and yes the hole does actually go right through. (Maybe a bit of swallowing of humble pie needed?)


Click the above picture to see a larger version.

And here are a few technical details… The lid is 20x14x12mm wall thickness is variable but approximately 1.5mm. The object was printed in ABS using a Bits from Bytes 3D Touch machine at a medium layer thickness of 0.25mm (now I'm wondering what would be possible with 0.125mm layers). The g code generation software was Axon 3 (alpha).

Oh, and if you fancy doing the project in schools then I have produced a free lesson resource that can be downloaded here http://wiki.bitsfrombytes.com/index.php/Bespoke_USB_Stick


FABRICATED The new world of #3D printing

Look at what dropped through my post box today!

Really excited as I was fortunate enough to contribute towards the writing of this book…. Well at least chapter 9 “A factory in the classroom”.

I haven't yet had a chance to read the book in its entirety but dipping onto it at random I must say that Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman have certainly hit the nail on the head in their practical and imaginative insight into the question… “How will 3D printing change my life”?

To quote from the back cover of the book… “What would you create if you had a machine that could make (almost) anything? Fabricated offers you practical and imaginative insight into the question, “How will 3D printing change my life?” This book is an informative and fast-paced exploration of 3D printing technologies and the people who use them. You'll take a journey to design studios, businesses, schools, and cutting-edge research labs. Based on hundreds of hours of interviews, Fabricated explores the promise and peril of a 3D printed present and future. Businesses will be liberated from the tyrannies of economies of scale Factories and global supply chains will shrink, finding themselves closer to their customers The law, already reeling from digital media, will once again need to be redefined Our environment might breathe easier in a 3D printed economy, or it could choke on a rising tide of plastic 3D printed digital and intelligent, adaptive materials will change our relationship with the physical world If you're intrigued with new technology, business strategy, popular science, or the social impact of technology, Fabricated will fascinate you”.

So, if you are an engineer, educator, designer, or in business there is something in this book for you. The chapters covered are… 1 Everything is becoming science fiction. 2 A machine that can make almost anything. 3 Nimble manufacturing: good, fast and cheap. 4 Tomorrow's economy of printable products. 5 Printing in layers. 6 Design software, the digital canvas. 7 Bioprinting in “living ink”. 8 Digital cuisine. 9 A factory in the classroom. 10 Unleashing a new aesthetic. 11 Green, clean manufacturing. 12 Ownership, safety, and new legal frontiers. 13 Designing the future. 14 The next episode of 3D printing.

The great thing about this book is that it isn't a simple “how to use a 3D printer” publication… At the current rate of progress in 3D printing that would be obsolete before it even reached the shelves, this book seeks to explore some of the deeper implications of 3D printing…. How this technology can change our lives!

The book is available in printed and ebook formats, and here is a link to it on Amazon.


VEX Clawbot #3Dprinting Carbomorph touch sensors

In a previous post I mentioned that our VEX robotics group at school had made a simple mistake, they started to build a VEX Clawbot without checking in the box of goodies… They didn't actually have a claw to mount on it. This meant that they investigated making their own by 3D printing using our Bits from Bytes machine.

This has been pretty successful and they are in the final stages of assembling and testing. However at the same time Dr Simon Leigh from the University of Warwick visited our school to show the students a new material called “Carbomorph” (an electrically conductive polymer). This started some discussion amongst the group, wondering if Carbomorph could be used to provide feedback for the claw by using it for touch sensors.

It's an interesting thought and something that needs to be investigated later… How can this interface with the Cortex controller? will Carbomorph be sensitive enough? How can the feedback be coded using the software? Etc.

So to get things started I helped the students out with their design for a modified claw (the finger part) that incorporates a Carbomorph gripping surface (the touch pad) and built in Carbomorph “wiring”. This can be seen in the photographs … Sorry that it isn't very clear but we had black translucent PLA loaded in the printer and the black Carbomorph doesn't show up too well.

This does raise more questions and design/engineering opportunities and the group should really focus on getting the robot finished before taking on more challenges…. So it will be interesting to see how this develops.


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