3D Printing tips for teachers
3D printing in the classroom should form part of every schools curriculum. For children, learning 3D printing should be like learning to send an email. But where do teachers start with integrating this into lessons? Are there any tips that are specific for classroom learning? The first thing you need is a 3D printer to print out students work. Then you need to think about what are you actually going to teach? What is the logistical implications of trying to print out whole classes of students work? What do teachers need to consider to ensure that their experience is as streamlined as possible? Here I have outlined five quick tips for making 3D printing in the classroom as easy as possible.
Tips for the classroom 1 – Make the projects small
When first starting out with 3D printing, the best advice is to make the projects small. If you are teaching a whole class of 25 children, then give them a project that won’t take more than an 30 mins to an hour each to print. If you give children a free range they will design big. This can be great in the right context, but when starting out and getting to know the machine, the smaller the project the more manageable it will be. The last thing that you want is to get a massive back log of designs that you can’t print out in time and also ones that will use vasts amounts of materials. Budgets are important in the classroom and you can’t blow the years 3D printing materials budget on one class by allowing the children to print big.
Tips for the classroom 2 – Teach the kids how to export STL files.
So you have successfully taught your first 3D printing class, the students have grappled all lesson with CAD modelling and now you have to save all the files and get them ready for 3D printing. This means you need to export the files as an STL file. Make this an part of the learning process and it will save you a huge chunk of time when it comes to 3D printing all the files. Just remember to ensure that you check any export options so that the scale is the same.
Tips for the classroom 3 – Teach them how to slice their own STL files.
This will save you endless time. Teach the class how to slice their own models. An integral part of the 3D printing process is choosing the correct settings when slicing an STL file ready to be 3D printed. Students need to learn about different layer heights, print speeds, infill settings as these will determine how the print turns out. So why not let them complete this task themselves. CURA is used in our lessons as it’s free and can easily be added to school networks.
Tips for the classroom 4 – Design models without support
One of the drawbacks of 3D printing is the need for support material on models. Support material can be a nightmare. Unless you have a duel headed machine and use dissolve-able support material they can really cause some problems. Firstly, they can be difficult to remove and you must always wear safety glasses when doing this. The last thing you want is a tiny shard of plastic flying in your eye. Secondly, it uses more material which will mean your print will take longer to print. Andy thirdly, as it uses more material it also costs more money. Design a model without the need for supports and you save yourself a load of potential issues.
Tips for the classroom 5 – Use a 3D printing adhesive.
If you have a heated bed, then use a 3D printing adhesive. The market is flooded with them at the moment and some are very good. The last thing you want is prints that won’t stick to the bed or start peeling off during mid print. If this is an issue, valuable filament is wasted which means the printer starts to loose you money through waste material, along with having to restart the print again which wastes time.
To start teaching 3D printing in the classroom, take a look at our curriculum. We have mapped every lesson against the UK, USA and Australian National Education Standards so it is clear what learning topics students are studying in each lesson.
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