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Building on Making Learning Irresistible -in D&T

On Friday I was given the opportunity to run a workshop for the North Somerset Learning Exchange… A primary school conference called Building on Making Learning Irresistible. My workshop was primarily to look at the implications of the new national curriculum for Design and Technology.

The first part of the workshop involved a presentation and discussion “unpicking” the key parts of the document and looking at how schools might change the activities they do with their children in the context of their school.

The second part was “hands on” with some of the newer technologies, 3D Printing, Robotics and programming, and CAD/CAM.

The conference happened to be taking place on the BBC “Children in Need” day. So the mascot Pudsey Bear inevitably made a few appearances.


Before finishing this post I must thank a few people for helping out with the organisation, loan of equipment and inspiration for the workshop…. Clevedon School Learning Hub, North Somerset Learning Exchange and Teach Design for all the organisation and admin. 3D Systems for providing the Cube 3D printer, Roland DG for providing the vinyl cutters, VEX Robotics for the loan of the VEX IQ Clawbot.



Putting a CubeX 3D printer through its paces

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!


Buggy wheels… #3DPrinting with a Cube (time lapse)

I have just put together a Picaxe (microcontroller) buggy for use with my students next term… Needed some better wheels! So….

I decided to go through the complete process to design and make some new wheels. I started with creating a design using the Cubify Invent CAD software. This software is really looking good, no frills and simple enough for students to get the hang of. The stl file was processed in the Cube software (only 7 mouse clicks!) and sent by Wi-Fi.

20 minutes later….

And I couldn't resist using my iPad to record the whole process in a video… Including a time lapse sequence of the actual print taking place.



Another great project for my students in school?!

First #3DPrinting with Cube

Ok, so I couldn't let the new Cube printer sit in the box… I had to print something! But what to print with the gorgeous neon green PLA filament that came with it?

That colour reminds me of the high visibility jackets that are used for safety …. Ah! …SAFETY!!! And a great idea for students to design and make…. Why not Make some of those clip on thingies that go on the spokes of a bike wheel?

… I just love the simplicity of the Cube… Very little setting up, very simple to use, compact, and great print quality!


Cubify (3DS) Cube and #3DPrinting for school

Really excited… I've just been given access to a 3D Systems (Cubify) Cube printer to try out.

You may already be aware that at Clevedon School we have been using 3D printers with students since the early days of this technology and have gained quite a lot of experience having built a RapMan and regularly using a BfB3000/3DTouch. So I was a little sceptical of this tiny desktop machine….. But here are my first impressions.


I managed to get from box to first print in less than an hour and that included downloading and installing the software and activating the Cube online. Everything else you need to get up and running is in the box. The instructions (in a tiny booklet) are very clear and easy to follow… I would recommend reading the instructions as you go along (even though I'm the sort of person who usually skips this).

So, PLA filament is loaded, I've used the special glue stick to coat the glass bed (oops new terminology, I really should get used to calling it “print pad”) to help the print stick to it and I've sent the file to the Cube via wifi (that's a new experience for me!) … Just have to wait for it to finish.

The print quality looks to be superb, but I'm too impatient to get this blog post published so photos of the results will have to wait I'm afraid.

And as for my next I steps…. I'll just do a couple more prints to really test the Cube -something complex and in need of support structures …and then get my students using it, I'm sure they will love it! And I think I'm going to love it's portability.

More to follow no doubt, … Watch this space!

Cubex A new 3D printer


Introducing the new 3D printer from 3D Systems … The Cubex (big brother to the Cube printer).
It has a huge print bed (just like its predecessor the Bits from Bytes 3D Touch). 3 colour printing and new software.

Cool!…. I’ll have to start saving for one of these!

Further details from the Cubify website http://cubify.com/cubex/index.aspx?tb_cubex_learn

New bed and waste bin

Last week I popped into BfB HQ for a chat with the guys there and noticed that the 3D Touch machines they are starting to ship had a few different parts to mine…. These updates are cool, I just had to have them!

So Friday evening saw me with Allen keys (hex key) and spanner in hand, fitting the new goodies.

The first thing I fitted was the new waste bin … It has a new spring mounted wiper blade, it fits around the mounting bars front and back, and if you wondered why the new firmware causes the hot ends to dance around when they wipe, then here’s the answer… There is a new “flicker” that removes the balls of filament that sometimes form and stick behind the blade. Fitting this update has made a real difference to printing with support material… The occasional bit of support material that inadvertently got dragged into the main part just doesn’t happen!

And the other goodie I took home… The new bed! There has been some talk on the BfB forum that this is “dibond” (thin aluminium sheets on both sides with a non aluminium core). I can assure you it’s NOT DIBOND! There are two layers… The bottom one is aluminium and the top is a black plastic similar, but harder than the surface on previous models…. It is absolutely flat and looks like it will stay that way! ABS and PLA both stick well and as the surface seems to be a bit harder it doesn’t scratch or show marks from the raft as much as the previous ones did. I did a couple of quite large raftless PLA prints, they stuck well and came out really smooth (If you try it you do so at your own risk) I found that getting them off the bed when still warm was perhaps a little easier.

Anyway, both of these new parts are a great addition to the 3D Touch. It looks like new machines will start to ship with these soon and I think they will appear in the BfB store shortly.

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