Learn 3D printing and revolutionise your classroom with the learnbylayers curriculum. The idea of teaching 3D printing can be daunting to new adopters of the technology. There are so many things to consider such as what type of machine do you buy? What should you design and make with your students? How long should a teacher spend teaching 3D printing as part of your lessons each year? What will your curriculum look like? All of these points need planning out first before you start to introduce the technology to your classes.
What type of 3D Printer do I buy?
The first question of ‘what type of 3D printer do I buy’ is probably one of the most important. The determining factor will probably be your budget. If you have a couple of thousand pound/dollars to spend then you can purchase a top branded printer with multiple features e.g. dual extrusion, auto bed levelling and remote controlling of the 3D printer through the use of smart phone apps. If your have a limited budget under £1000 then you can still get an excellent printer, just minus a few ‘bells and whistles’ (do you really need two extruders? You can get by fine with just one in most cases, auto levelling is useful, but you can get by without it). Some of the best single extruder 3D printers on the market are under £1000 and have excellent reviews. It is also worth looking at the safety features that come with the 3D printer. In the classroom safety will determine everything with children. Does the 3D printer have an enclosed build space e.g. can students get their fingers in the machine. Children are naturally inquisitive and one of the first things they will want to do is touch the printer. With an extruder that is probably operating at 200 degrees plus and moving parts that don’t discriminate against prying fingers, making sure your 3D printer has doors on it is an advisable feature to look for.
We recommend reading the 3D hubs trend report to learn about what brands of 3D printers are currently trending in the 3D printing community. It’s worth spending some time researching different 3D printers before you start to teach the technology to your classes as you will need to learn how the printer works yourself before demonstrating the machine to your classes.
How to learn CAD design?
As a teacher you will need to teach your students to learn CAD (computer aided design). There are a whole host of design packages available to use, some free, some require a subscription. The learnbylayers curriculum is designed around the Autodesk CAD suite. The beginners curriculum uses TinkerCAD and the intermediate curriculum uses Fusion 360. Both are free to use for educational institutions and students. The main thing about these CAD packages are they are user friendly and easy for students to learn. Both are cloud based, so students can start modelling in class and the continue at home. The major benefit is they can both be used in a browser. TinkerCAD is completely browser based, whilst Fusion 360 starts off by being downloaded into a computer with the built in functionality of ‘edit in a browser’. This means that once the ‘edit in a browser’ is selected students can continue to learn by using software at home without the need to download again. They can both be used across both Windows and Mac computers as well, which is a huge benefit.
What should a curriculum look like?
In terms of what you should actually design with your students it really depends on the teacher and the intended outcomes. Do you want to structure learning and give students small manageable tasks? We have planned the learnbylayers curriculum to be taught in small chunks that once the students learn the skills needed, they will be able to apply these to much larger design tasks over a series of lessons. Think of the curriculum as training for students, they will learn all they need to know and will be assessed through a series of design challenges. Then when given a more complex task by the teacher or if they decide to use the skills in a exam piece (controlled assessment), they will be able to apply the skills learnt and work independently.
What can a teacher expect from learnbylayers?
Learnbylayers will provide you with a complete toolkit for a teacher to deliver a curriculum that has been designed by teachers for teachers. The curriculum covers everything from designing principles using free CAD software, to the social and moral topics associated with using 3D printers. An important aspect for students to learn is how 3D printing compares to traditional industrial manufacturing methods? When is it right to use a 3D printer in the design process. What different types of printers will students learn about?
In the intermediate lesson pack students learn the difference between FDM, SLA, SLS and DLP machines. In the classroom the majority of machines use FDM technology, when in industry SLA, DLP and SLS are more common place due to their higher resolution they can print and also the improved mechanical properties of the parts produced. Students will be able to identify the difference between the different types of 3D printing technology.
Students will also learn how the technology compares to injection moulding and also how filament is made using the extrusion process. An important consideration for your classes to learn are the different types of materials available to 3D print with. The question of bio plastics and the environmental impact of 3D printing with oil based plastics will be covered. In the beginners lesson pack students will learn basic slicing techniques so they can prepare their own gcodes whilst the intermediate pack covers customised slicing techniques so they can really start to understand how the slicing process works with more in depth theory covered.
In terms of the physical teaching of the curriculum, they are all planned and ready to deliver with minimal planning needed. The curriculum contains easy to follow lesson plans, lesson powerpoints, student worksheets, homework sheets for every lesson, answer sheets, video tutorials, differentiated design challenges and end of module assessments. All the content can be completely customised at the teachers discretion or it can be taught ‘straight out of the box’ in it’s current format. To learn more about the individual lessons then click here. If you would like to ask us any questions about the lessons then complete the contact form below and one of our teachers will get back to you.
Below is a testimonial from one of our schools using the learnbylayers curriculum.
“This is an essential 3D printing resource for the future of Design Technology. I use the scheme of learnings within my long term planning for Design and Technology. This has been essential for adapting with the new Design Technology GCSE. The individual lessons are simple to follow and ideal for beginners and experienced practitioners.” Dwain Brandy, Design and Technology teacher at Oasis Academy, Media City, UK.