By Phil Cotton learnbylayers founder (3 minute read).
3D printing in high school? Where do you start? If you are wanting to integrate 3D printing into your school, it’s a not as easy as your senior leaders may think. There are many different things to consider before you have even printed your first object and it can be a ‘mind boggling’ experience with so much choice out there. Here we have provided a quick break down of some useful information to think about before you take the plunge.
- Go big or go small?
This may sound like a strange question, but how much are you actually looking to 3D print? This will help determine your budget. Are you looking to roll out the technology to every year group or will it just be for one class? If it’s for all students, then you would want to consider more than one machine, which will mean a larger budget. If it is for one class then you could get away with one printer. For ideas on suitable machines to use in a high school setting, click here to read our review of 3D printers for the classroom.
- How many staff at your high school will teach 3D printing?
Will it be just you or are there a cluster of staff teaching 3D printing at your school? If it’s just you then you can steam ahead and pretty much decide yourself what you want to teach. Alternatively, if you are leading a group of staff then you have to think about continuity of teaching. How will you ensure that students across your high school all get the same experience. Our curriculum is designed to meet both scenarios and can be used by a single teacher or all teachers at your high school.
- What IT infrastructure does your high school have?
This is one of the most important points to consider. Once you have a decided on a 3D printer, do you actually have the digital technology to teach CAD? Teaching students to design their own models is a key learning topic and where challenge and problem solving skills are developed.
Do you have desktops, laptops or chromebooks? What hardware you have in your high school will determine what CAD software you can run. If you have a maintained school network with onsite technicians that can be called on at a moments notice, then we recommend Fusion 360. If you have chromebooks or don’t have dedicated IT staff on site, then we recommend teaching CAD in a browser (no software to download) with our Onshape curriculum.
Both scenarios require your high school to issue email addresses to your students to login. Also, your school will be required to register with either Autodesk Fusion 360 or Onshape to get the free licenses.
- Ongoing running costs
Actually purchasing the machine is only the start, you will need to factor in consumables and materials. This is what we recommend as standard for teachers;
Filament – PLA in 1kg rolls. We would avoid amazon or ebay and find a local supplier. Once they know you are a school they will be keen to keep your business and more likely to throw in a few freebies. Also you school can easily claim tax/VAT back.
Tools – Yes you need some tools for your 3D printer! Pliers, socket sets for changing nozzles, allen keys for general maintenance and paint scrapers to remove prints from the bed. Most 3D printers come with a basic starter set to get you going. Double check what they offer you in the purchase of the machine. Read our quick blog on teachers tips for the classroom to learn more.
3D printer adhesive – If you buy a machine with a glass bed then it’s advisable to buy an adhesive to ensure prints stick to the bed. We have used magigoo over the years and can highly recommend it. Simply apply a layer to the glass bed, ensure your 3D printer is calibrated and that’s it. You don’t need to worry about warping of prints and you will have a near 100% success rate.
- Collaboration with other schools.
Finally, are you the only high school in your area? If so, then engage with social media to see what others are doing. If you live in a large district with many schools, make the time to link up. Comparing how other teachers use the technology is a great way to learn (and make new teacher friends)! It’s amazing what can be achieved when teachers get together.
If you need any further advice or information on getting started with 3D printing in your high school, then use the contact form below or send us a message in the messenger chatbot.