Long Island High School Students Reap Rewards as Teacher Builds $50000 3D Printing Lab from …

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Michael Davies in his 3D Printing Lab.

Greenport High School students are very lucky to have a technology teacher like Michael Davies. A true people person, he has an undeniable knack for networking and persuading more affluent contacts to make donations to his school. He’s put those skills to work for his class, and now Davies has managed to build a truly amazing 3D printing lab at the Long Island public school.

He’s created something superior to what many colleges even have, and all of this will give his students a major head start as they work their way through high school and enter college with most likely more knowledge than most when it comes to digital design and 3D printing. This is a tremendous boost for offering greater career options as well, as large companies of all types are looking for graduates skilled in design and 3D printing.

The lab at Greenport High is only one of a few in the area, boasting multiple 3D printers.

“It’s really impressive, especially when you consider the size of our school,” said Superintendent David Gamberg.

kidsWith eight MakerBot Replicators, all donated to the district at Davies’ urging, along with a list of equipment and supplies, they consider the value of everything to be edging up toward $50,000–and Davies continues his efforts, making us wonder if perhaps one day this will be a lab where each child luxuriously sits at their own 3D printer.

As the lab becomes more and more populated with technology, enthusiasm just continues to grow in both this teacher and all his very dedicated students. He likes to compare the 3D printers to high-tech glue guns, and in offering such a basic comparison, most likely makes the hardware seem fun rather than intimidating.

Kids at Greenport are drawn to the 3D printers as well as new projects, and can often be found staying voluntarily after class too, magnetized by all they are able to design and make. Davies’ technology class, which began this year, has 38 students, split into two sections. So far, as they learn about digital design and then go on to 3D print, they have made busts of themselves, smartphone cases, windshield ice scrapers, camera lens hoods, parts for the equipment they use and even prosthetic hands. They also learn to take care of the equipment and perform necessary maintenance.

“We’re all learning together. It’s fun and exciting,” says Davies. “On parent/teacher night this place is mobbed–not with kids–but parents.”

girlAlthough 3D printing for 38 kids and one teacher can get expensive in terms of filament and all that goes along with fabrication, Davies has managed to cover all of that with donations–and much of his efforts were concentrated while he was injured earlier in the year. He spent his time being very productive on the phone, doing constant networking, and he jokes that people get so tired of hearing from him that they give him stuff just to make him go away. So far the district has only spent a total of $4500 on the lab.

 “No high school’s going to have a lab like this,” Davies says. “It’s like something you’d see at a high-end college. They can walk into an industrial design class or an engineering class and have a jump on what they need to know.”

The advent of the 3D printer undoubtedly has been a huge boost to entice students of all levels around the country, from college to elementary schools, into getting excited about building complex technological projects, as well as other very interesting items like other students too making prosthetics for other young people in need–and what about the 3D printed wheelchair for Lilly the two-legged goat? As the STEM agenda is in full force across the US, and many other countries, it’s obvious that the plan to get children more interested in science, technology, engineering, and math is beginning to work as kids see the infinite world of design and innovation that is open to them due to 3D printing and other associated technologies like robotics and virtual reality. Do you have 3D printing labs like this anywhere in your area? Discuss in the Greenport 3D Printing Lab forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Images: Denise Civiletti / Source: Southold Local]

Library builds attention, trinkets with 3D printer

GLENS FALLS  Line by line, the structure formed, at first just a geometric shape, as the machine hummed away.

As Darth Vader began to emerge from the filament, though, a few people took notice and stopped to peer into the case of Crandall Public Library’s 3D printer.

“People are really excited to see it and really excited we have it,” said librarian Guinevere Forshey. “But they’re not ready to take the jump yet.”

The “Star Wars”-inspired structure, like many the library staff has printed, was to demonstrate the printer’s capabilities and to draw attention to the CubePro Duo, which the library bought for $3,000 with a grant in March.

Teaming with LARAC, the library offered classes on how to use the printer and, in the fall, opened the additive-process machine up for public use.

But the printer goes largely unused, Forshey said.

“It has yet to catch on,” she said.

Part of that reluctance, she said, is likely the seeming complexity of the programs used to design objects.

Forshey had no experience with the programs but read up online and was able to learn the basics quickly.

“When it came down to using it, we were learning with the public,” she said.

The library has a computer loaded with SketchUp, a program with which users can develop designs to build whatever they want printed. The user sends the .stl (STereoLithography) file to the library, and the library’s IT department gets it printing.

Ben Sopczyk taught the 3D printing classes through LARAC and said much of the time was spent on teaching how to use the design software.

“Ironically enough, in a 3D printing class like that … it is much less 3D printing and much more 3D design and application,” said Sopczyk, who ordered an online kit a few years ago and built his own 3D printer.

The six-hour classes focused heavily on how to break complex designs down, he said.

“Many objects can be broken down into more basic shapes, so when it comes to designing more custom objects,” he said, “it may look like a big, fancy curved bracket, say, but you may be able to create that by creating a rectangle and subtracting shapes from it.”

Sopczyk and Forshey both said open-source online communities are great ways to learn how to create objects for 3D printing.

“The online community is huge and there are a lot of good resources,” Sopczyk said. “It’s not as daunting or impossible to be part of as you might think.”

In the LARAC class, one student made a mock-up of her house.

“To make this object on your computer screen and send it to the printer and it’s there in the physical space, that experience is rewarding because it’s new, it’s novel, it’s a bit like sci-fi,” he said.

Even those who aren’t new to design appreciate Crandall Public Library’s latest technology.

David Hutchinson, an architect at JMZ Architects and Planners in Glens Falls, heard about the library’s printer and wanted to see if it produced high-enough- quality images for the firm to use.

He created a 3D model of JMZ’s logo, adding complexities to it to gauge the printer’s capabilities.

“I sent a pretty complicated model to see about the abilities of the printer in terms of resolution,” he said. “I was pretty happy with it.”

“And it’s so easy,” he said. “Just like sending a print file to Staples.”

The practical purposes of the printer are, as Hutchinson learned, for models and prototypes, as well as parts, such as cellphone clips, legs for shelving and the like.

“If you can dream it … we wouldn’t have an issue printing it,” Forshey said. “You can make multiple designs relatively inexpensively.”

The library charges 20 cents per gram for printing. The Darth Vader pencil holder that printed Thursday weighed about 75 grams and would cost about $15.

The filaments — hard plastic threads that come in a variety of colors — are spooled on a reel and fed through a heating unit, which gets the material warm enough for it to fuse. The filament is made from a plant-based plastic, so it’s durable and environmentally friendly.

Applications to submit projects are available on the library’s website.

When Hutchinson sent his project, he received an email the next day letting him know it was ready.

“We do work for college campuses and in that, libraries, and we found that the old adage of what a library is has changed,” he said. “It’s nice to see Crandall is keeping up with the times.”

The Mcor 3D Printer Builds Full Color Objects Out Of Paper

If there’s a material, somebody is going to 3D print with it.

Mcor’s claim to fame is using paper, and at CES today the company announced a new 3D printer, the Mcor Arke, that creates full-color objects that are entirely recyclable.

This isn’t Mcor’s first paper printer, but this one is markedly cheaper and smaller than the company’s flagship model, the Iris HD. The Arke costs only $5,995, and can sit on a tabletop weighing only 110 lbs, compared to the Iris HD which costs $36,400- $47,600 and weighs 330 lbs.

The idea behind making a 3D printer so much cheaper than their typical model for commercial use is for use in education. Mcor’s goal is to get a 3D printer into every classroom.

Mcor has been working with schools to try and provide students with 3D printing experiences, with some success.

“These students are exceptional spatial thinkers, so they very much appreciate the opportunity to hold in their hands something they’ve conceived in their brains and shaped in the software,” says Adam Truncale, an instructor at Robert E. Lee High School in Baytown, Texas, that used an Mcor printer in his architecture class.

Since paper is the main material used, the cost of printing also drops. Mcor estimates that their paper costs only 10-20% of typical nylon or resin materials, and is completely recyclable. In fact, even the printed models can be recycled through traditional means.

The Arke will be available in Q2 2016, and has already garnered more than 2,500 pre-orders.