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3D printing for “proof of concept”

One of our A Level students has a very interesting project for her coursework. It's all about designing and making a stage set for a small or travelling theatre company. Of course the set has to be easy to assemble, take down and transport, so she has investigated using lightweight materials and a bespoke system for assembling a framework. Being uncertain about how the frame might fit together she has designed some fittings using Autodesk Inventor and 3D printed them using our 3D Systems CubeX machines… Just to prove that the concept will work!

Her next steps will be to refine the designs having found out that her idea works ready for final production. Really looking to forwards to seeing how this iterative designing develops…. Great work Polli!

UWE and @ClevedonDT students working together. Recycling and #3DPrinting

This evening a group of D&T students were able to work with Sam Millington a BSc Product Design Student from UWE (University of the West of England, Bristol, UK).

Sam has designed and made a prototype “Filament Extruder” for his final project. This machine takes ground up pieces of plastic from milk bottles (and/or other plastic recyclables) and makes new filament (rolls of plastic) to use in a 3D Printer.

Our students were able to discuss with Sam how he went about designing and making his degree project, and how the filament extruder might be used in schools. The students explored how the machine might be supplied to schools as a kit and how this could help students to understand how plastics can be (and are) recycled. Some interesting discussion took place about how students might form teams in their D&T lessons to build a machine, set up a company to collect and recycle scrap plastics and make 3D printed objects from the plastic to sell. A really cool Eco friendly project that if supported by teaching and learning resources would be interesting for schools teaching STEM.

We all wish Sam good luck in the final development of his filament extruder… And of course good luck with the work for his degree!


Prototypes and #3DPrinting

A quick preview of some product prototypes being developed using 3D Printing by our AS level students… Retractable headphones, motorised school compass and an ergonomic knife sharpener…. More to follow later.

Carbomorph… D&T and the University of Warwick

This week our Year 12 & 13 Product Design students were able to meet up with Dr Simon Leigh from the University of Warwick and Iain Major from 3D Systems. Dr Leigh works in the School of Engineering, his work has been focused on developing innovative materials, machines and devices based around the technology of 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing.

Dr Leigh has developed a new material called Carbomorph, it's a very interesting polymer (plastic) composite that actually conducts electricity! Ok, there are other polymers that can do this but the really new thing about Carbomorph is that I can be printed using a 3D printer.

At Clevedon School we have been 3D printing with our students for quite a long time and Dr Leigh had heard about us through the Internet and 3D Systems (Bits from Bytes Ltd). So to cut a long story short, he gave us some Carbomorph to experiment with (even before the research paper was published, so it had to be kept secret!)

Dr Leigh came to school to explain how a new material is developed, how the research paper is published, how to make Carbomorph, how Warwick is developing 3D printing, what engineering is like at uni, and much more! Our students were fascinated!

Our students were given a challenge…. And a homework! …”What new designs can you come up with to 3D print with Carbomorph?”. This was their chance to show off their innovative thinking. The students shared their ideas in a sort of “Think Tank” session and I think Dr Leigh was amazed at what what they came up with!


Mr White was also able to demonstrate a prototype iPad stylus that used a Carbomorph tip and physical on screen “game players” for ipad games… A product developed from an idea shared by one of our Year 10 GCSE Product Design students. Something Dr Leigh and his undergraduate students hadn't thought of!

So overall this has been a fantastic opportunity for our students to take part in a University development project and it has been really enjoyed by everyone involved. A huge thank you to Dr Leigh and his colleagues at The University of Warwick for letting us join in this project.


@ClevedonDT students visit 3DS / BfB

As visitors to my blog will probably know/realise I teach Design and Technology at Clevedon School in the UK…. my year 12/13 students study AS/A2 Product Design. Studying this course not only requires students to design and make products but also to know how they would be made in the “real world”… And many students incorporate 3D printing in their designs, so what could be better to combine all of this into a visit to 3D Systems (Bits from Bytes).

So earlier today we took the students to “BfB HQ” to have a look round. The guys from BfB did a fantastic job of making us welcome with Annabelle introducing the students to the factory with a brief history of how the business was set up and it’s development from the RepRap project at Bath University. Iain then gave the students a tour of the facilities including the business side of the company, how it fits in as part of the 3D Systems global company, how sales and marketing are managed and of course a tour of the production facilities. The students were able to see both the RapMan and 3D Touch production systems and how these differ due to RapMan being sold as a kit and the 3D Touch being sold as a “ready to print” machine. It was brilliant for the students to see all this happening “for real” and how the things we have studied such as “Quality Control and Quality Assurance” really do make a difference to the manufacture of products.

From a personal point of view it was also great to meet up again with the guys from BfB… Amazing how many were previously students at my school!

And finally a huge “thank you” to Iain, Annabelle and all the others at BfB for making us so welcome and for sparing their precious time especially when they are in the middle of the rush to get machines out to their resellers in time for Christmas.

Here’s what my students had to say…

Bits from Bytes visit

      Bits from Bytes are a UK based company owned by 3D Systems. They design and manufacture low cost 3D printers for rapid prototyping. The company was started in a garage, and has now progressed to two warehouses.

     We were first met by Annabel, who told us briefly about the history of the company. After that we met Iain. He first spoke to us about the marketing aspects of the business, and the admin and finance elements.

     We then went through to the board room, and saw how the machines have evolved and some examples of what could be produced on the 3D printer. This included some alternative materials such as ceramics.

     Following on from this we went down to the factory floor, and observed the different processes involved in production of the Touch 3D machines. He spoke about the different methods they have produced for storing materials, and how they buy materials using the “just in time” method. We also saw the jigs they have produced to make the production method more efficient. Iain also told us how they had recently had seasonal workers in due to a high volume of orders. All of the employees at Bits from Bytes who assemble the machines are trained in all aspects of production.  They each have a trolley which they wheel around the factory floor, and they are responsible for the completion of the machines they are working on.

     To show us a contrast to this, we saw how the kits are put together for the RapMan 3D printers. These are produced in batches and the put in shrink wrap. One employee then moves along the shelves and puts the required quantity of each part into a box, ready to be shipped out.

    At the end of the visit we were given the opportunity to ask any questions we had. We learnt about future plans for the business, and how the company plan to expand as the market does.

    Overall it was a valuable trip, and gave all of us the experience to see what we’ve learnt in our theory lessons in a real life situation.


Year 13 students


West of England ICT Conference 2012

Our D&T department got a special mention in the keynote speech by Tim Rylands at the WEICT12 conference?… All about the way we are using our Bits from Bytes 3D printing with students.

Rather than repeating about Tim’s fact finding visit or what we actually do with our 3D printers why not scroll down through my department blog and see for yourself…. It really is cutting edge stuff!


And of course here on my RapMan Education Posterous blog there is a load of information to browse.

To baldly go… (3D Printing)… Part 2


Following on from a previous post “To baldly go” Tim Rylands who visited D&T a couple of weeks ago has blogged about 3D Printing in the Design & Technology department here at Clevedon School. It makes a really interesting read, so check it out here http://www.timrylands.com/2012/06/07/3d-printing-at-clevedon-school/

Thanks Tim for the brilliant and very complimentary blog post!