3D Printing has made my Day

Thank you to all that read my blog, and continue to do so, even though I’ve not posted for a while! Not so long ago my wife and I had a baby….not quite as easy to find time to sit writing these days, but after seeing an article online about some work I have been doing with 3D printers, I have decided to get back on WordPress and will continue to do so when I can. As well as writing about some general educational issues that are general and can be viewed by all….this post is very much related to my subject, Design and Technology….and my latest passion, 3D Printing. If you are a DT Teacher, and are reading this without having a 3D Printer in your department….please please please do all you can to get one! For years I have been putting large bids together to increase the size of my department capitation so that I can fill my stock room full of material for the pupils at my school to use.  Most materials come as flat sheets, bars, tubes or have been bags of small electronic components.  Since getting a laser cutter 3 years ago, I’d guess I’ve spent a fortune on acrylic sheet, I have no idea how we coped without a laser cutter, and at the time I can honestly say it changed my life!  New possibilities came with the laser cutter, crazy shapes and intricate designs could now be cut….things that a hack saw, wet and dry paper and a bit of T-Cut would not allow! I look back at the projects I have made with pupils, some getting the top marks available for GCSE controlled assignment….they all have one thing in common….lots of flat sides and box like constructions (no wonder really when most of the material I bought had a stock form of a flat sheet!) Only too often did a pupil design something that was unique and organic, then to be told, ‘that is great, but is hard to make, so…..lets make it like this’  the poor pupil would more than likely be able to have some curvy/organic part to their work, as long as it was stuck on a box 😦 Now that we have 3D Printers, all that has changed! My new saying is….’If you can think it, we can draw it….and yes! You can make it!’ (As long as it fits in a 3D Printer :-)) The school I work at is a teaching school (St James’s C of E High School, Bolton), through the teaching school I was able to get some funding to buy a 3D Printer and have some time to learn to use the CAD software.  I use Autodesk, but many are available. Just before Christmas many teachers braved the cold to attend a twilight CPD session I ran, to read more about the session there is an article available via the link below from 3D Print.com: http://3dprint.com/35037/3d-printing-education-2/ The article was written by @ladybridgeDT Phil Cotton, (3dprintshow winner 2013 and 2014 educational excellence award for 3dprinting.) There are many pros and cons to any method of manufacturing, and don’t think that 3D Printing is not without its issues….it is.  But after a bit of tweaking and patience, it is well worth investing time and money in.  Some pupils laugh when I tell them that their print will take 6 hours to make, but they soon smile when they know that their work is being made overnight and will be ready to see in the morning! If you are interested in 3D Printing and would like any help, please get in touch with me, and also check out Phil’s website, http://www.3dfilemarket.com

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