UPDATE: Managing 3d printer workflow (how do you keep all the eager users happy?)

UPDATE: I originally published this in October of 2012 and it’s due for a refresh.  Here’s what’s changed:

1. I’m still using this Google form to accept tinkercad.com designs.  I have removed the color option for two reasons:

a. changing filament and organizing print jobs by color was increasing the time required for me to manage the print queue.   I’m now working in white ABS for consistency and efficiency.

b. want a specific color?  I find that spray paint yields a much better finish than the striations visible in a plain print.  The paint reduces the layering and, when combined with acetone treatment, results in better aesthetics for the final piece.

2. due to maintenance, wear and tear and onoging leveling issues our Makerbot has been retired.  We now have three UP PLUS 2 printers and they require that each print job is initiated from a computer.  Solution?  Three aging netbooks now feed the print jobs to each printer.  Note that once the the print job is underway you can disconnect the computer from the UP printer.   The idea of giving trusted students access to run print jobs still holds true – they can also serve as gatekeepers.

3. group print jobs: I work to group designs together in the same print run.  This reduces the time lost configuring, pre-heating and removing individual finished parts.  The same point below still holds true: if you trust your 3d printer to run unattended then start those 6 hour+ print jobs so that they run overnight.

ORIGINAL POST: Our classroom Makerbot arrived last May and it’s a rare day that it isn’t printing non-stop. The challenge that I continue to face: how to manage a shared 3d printer? My last class just generated 12 new designs!

In my last post I dreamt about adding a print queue as a feature to address this management issue. Until then, here’s how I manage a heavy volume of print jobs for our Makerbot. Continue reading


Student designed, 3d printed Typhoon class sub

This was designed, printed and painted by one of my second year graphics students.  His goal was to create a scale, waterproof sub that would sink convincingly when submerged.

Thanks to integrated ballast this is mission accomplished. 


IMG_7040.JPG Continue reading

Guns and 3d printing – my take

This past weekend I worked a 3d printing booth at my kids’ elementary school carnival.  It was wonderful to watch scores of 6 to 10 year olds creating in Tinkercad.  I’m still catching up on printing their work.

Defense-Distributed-Liberator-3D-printed-gun-by-Cody-WilsonWhy it’s in the news again: While the kids’ were building the parents wanted to talk 3d printing.  Guns and 3d printing.  Senator Schumer (D-NY) is seeking an extension to the 25 year old Undetectable Weapons Act.  This act bans manufacturers from creating weapons that are undetectable by metal detectors.  The frequently referenced 3d printed Liberator handgun plans do include provisions for the owner to install a metal slug thus making the weapon detectable. That bit of the installation process is in control of the builder.  And the folks at Defense Distributed aren’t the only producers of 3d printed plans for guns or gun parts.

I’ve been using a Makerbot Replicator dual for a year and a half and Continue reading

Alternatives to the “3d printed gun” thread

3d printed guns are in the news again.  It goes like this:

“Hey I heard you have a 3d printer.  Have you printed a gun yet?” Yawn.

So I offer you these cool stories to turn the conversation back to 3d printing greatness.  Then you can say, “Yeah the 3d printed gun is something but have you heard about…” Continue reading

What can a 3d printer do in a classroom?

The benefits of bringing a 3D printer into your classroom can be real and immediate.  And I will get to them.  But first a word: patience.  You have to give yourself and your students the freedom to be patient with the process and the machine.

created in tinkercad1. Common core and 3d printing – in the California Common Core Standards for Geometry item #4 is “Model with mathematics”.  So much of my conversation around 3d modeling using everyday geometric terminology.  On the first day of our work with Tinkercad (cloud based 3d modeling)  I show students how to free rotate an object or to rotate it in increments of 45 degrees. 

There is also a significant need for  Continue reading

London 3D Print Show – Day 1

I should have arranged for a class field trip to the show.

Tinkercad Blog

Autodesk and Cosmo Wenman at the London 3D Print Show

The London 3D Print Show kicked off today with a great crowd and some wonderful exhibitors!  We were proud to show off Cosmo Wenman’s work using 123D Catch, it generated a lot of excitement and we’re looking forward to the next couple of days.

After a long, busy one at the show today, we attended their first annual 3D Print Awards and were so excited to hear 123D Creature named as the Best Online/App-Based Service!  It was an honor to accept on behalf of the 123D Creature team and it only proves how awesome our users are that are making such great models using their iPads.

Stay tuned as we post more pictures!

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