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


MakerBot stole my idea. And I’m thrilled.

The folks at MakerBot announced three new machines at CES 2014.  I will be posting about their value and use in the classroom shortly.  But I couldn’t wait to pat myself on the back.

They stole one of my ideas.  And I couldn’t be happier. 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

Class project: future phone

The final project for my graphics class: design and 3d print a future phone. I’m still framing the full description and will share it when done. The phones will be prototyped on a Makerbot and the screens/keyboards, etc will be printed on paper and glued as needed.

Here’s where I would appreciate your help.

I’m curious as to what features you desire in the next generation of phones. Or what features need to go away. Ideas about shape, form, display and material are also appreciated. Your ideas will help to guide our work and to help students in need in need of some brainstorming grease.

Feel free to drop your ideas in the comments below or reply to me on twitter @rpmteacher. Thanks.

Week 3 with the Makerbot Replicator

So heres what I have learned in the last weeks. The three weeks since the Makerbot arrived in my high school tech classroom.

  • students will cut class to watch the makerbot print
  • students previously not interested in computer graphics will learn on their own time just to create a design to print
  • some folks view it as magic
  • some view it as a toy maker…or just a toy
  • 3d printing makes the object worth little and transfers the value to the design. My four year old already gets this.
  • And now on to the practical and technical:

  • there is a lot to learn and you must be ready to tinker and fiddle.
  • don’t buy one if you aren’t a patient soul. The tech isn’t there. Yet.
  • set the hbp to 109 degrees for larger objects.
  • rafts work but aren’t always needed for smaller objects.
  • as stated my many makerbot vets: a feedrate of around 30 is a sweet spot between speed and resolution
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