Middle of the school holiday and I found myself in school doing some teaching… Some may say a little bit crazy. But all for good reasons and very exciting.
Ok, so it wasn't like a normal teaching day, this was something a bit special, perhaps I had better explain a bit more fully…
I have found myself involved with a new organisation called “Teach Design” http://www.teachdesign.org.uk who have recently set up to promote and support D&T and STEM. They are partnering with some leading hardware and software companies to provide equipment, training, resources etc to schools throughout the country… One of the aims of Teach Design is to set up “Teach Design Tech Centres” (TDTCs), and this is where my involvements starts.
One of the Teach Design partners is 3D Systems who manufacture the Cube and CubeX 3D Printers and as you may realise I have worked closely with 3D Systems for some considerable time. So I suppose I was seen as ideally placed to provide some training in 3D printing to the guys who will soon be running the TDTCs and using 3D Systems machines.
Unfortunately, not everyone from the 10 TDTCs were able to make it down to Clevedon today but we made a start on the training anyway … the meeting/training had been rescheduled from earlier in the week due to a huge storm (hurricane?) that had swept the country. But we still had delegates from as far afield as Wales and Derbyshire.
And as for the training… As you can see from the pictures everyone was shown how to set up and print with both Cube and CubeX machines ready to set up in their own school. And at this point I must thank Iain and Aaron from 3DS for their help in doing this. And as an aside, it was a bit of a proud moment for me to see Aaron who is an ex-student of mine teaching and supporting other teachers!
Coming up soon I will be running a training day together with the Iain from 3D Systems, showing the guys from TeachDesign how to set up and use the Cube and CubeX 3D printers.
As you may gather from this blog I have been using RapMan, BfB3000 and 3DTouch machines in school for quite a long time now and have recently been using a 3D Systems Cube…. But I hadn't used a CubeX.
Just over a week ago I received a CubeX Trio and since then have been tinkering around doing a few test prints just to get myself acquainted with it and see what differences there might be.
Even in this short time I have been really impressed by the CubeX. It is very well built and it looks good too!
My trusty 3DTouch could produce some excellent multi colour/material prints but I have found that it is put in the shade by the CubeX…. It's faster, even more accurate and easier to use.
The CubeX software is a little more complex than that for the Cube (inevitably due to the 3 print jets) but I found that importing a .stl file with multiple shells and setting up a 3 colour print was really straight forwards.
Wanting to really try it out I designed this twisted hexadecagon (16 sided) container using CAD software and set it up for printing in very patriotic red, white and blue PLA. Keeping the object small (about 30mm across) meant that there would be lots of swaps between the printjets in a short time, and the spiral meant that the colours would slightly overlay each other…. An ideal opportunity to see if the colours smudge into each other. As you can see, after a couple of hours printing the little container printed superbly!.. It's worth noting that all the pictures shown here are showing the objects straight off the CubeX, no cleaning up, no de-stringing, etc.
I must say that I'm very impressed with the Cubex and I'm sure my students will be too!
The Department for Education in England has published a report on 3D printing in schools to enrich STEM and design subjects.
Download the document here
The document looks at the experiences of 21 schools using 3D printers for the first time in Science, Maths and D&T.
A write up on the Telegraph newspaper goes on to say thet £500K will be invested to allow 60 teaching schools to buy printers and train teachers to use them effectively.