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Design Tech Club

posted May 9, 2014, 12:55 AM by William Farren   [ updated May 9, 2014, 1:24 AM ]
The design tech club has been hard at work (play) over the last few weeks. We started by putting together our Printrbot Plus 3D printer kit. This took about 15 hours of construction time. We had a few challenges to overcome due to some missing pieces which required some work-arounds. We are glad to say that the printer is working well. After several test prints and a lot of calibration and trial and error, we have managed to get some interesting prints out of our Printrbot. Having built the printer from the ground up gives us a good understanding of its workings and allows us to control it better than if we had just bought a completely assembled unit.
Club members are learning how to use Sketchup, a 3D modeling tool. This tool is quite capable but requires some time to learn. They are learning how to use it by designing something that has a real-world application. One student is designing the part that connects a camera to a tripod, as an example. There is still a lot to learn but the important thing really has to do with the skills of learning, problem solving, asking good questions, and tinkering. All the information we need to meet our 3D printing goals is out there for the taking/asking. Being a good learner and problem solver are two of the most important skills a student can acquire these days.

Club members with finished printer.

Early in the building process.

These are some of the items we've managed to print. You can see the learning curve from top to bottom. It took many prints before we were able to get the plastic to stay on the print surface. As the plastic cools it shrinks. This makes it want to curl off the print surface. After some searching online we learned that sanding the print surface and using hair spray would help the material adhere. There are many variables to consider every time we print something since each shape is unique and has different print and shrink characteristics. Lots of good problem solving involved!

Printing Gears

Working on Sketchup
Designing in Sketchup