As we begin to wrap up the school year, my 4th and 6th graders are finishing up their 3D design projects and getting ready to print. In the meantime, I have succumbed to the allure of 3D printing and purchased my own printer for home use. While I admit the main reason for getting one is to have a blast printing all the neat things on Thingiverse, it also has the added bonus of getting me more comfortable with both 3D design and the mechanics of 3D printing. At school, we have a Makerbot and a Flashforge Creator. For myself, I purchased a FlashForge Dreamer after spending days reading reviews. I have to say, I have not been disappointed! This little microwave sized printer is a real workhorse. I also built a basic filament spool holder with some PVC pipe from Home Depot.
I started out just with some simple prints from Thingiverse so I could get a feel for how it all works. After printing a few geeky tchotchkes and some things for my nieces, it was time to begin creating some of my own print jobs.
One of my favorite basic prints was the Cute Octopus Says Hello model from Makerbot. I love that adorable little cephalopod. After finding several variations of him (Spocktopus! Daft Punktopus!) I decided to try my hand at making my own mods. The end result of that was The Doctopus (My Doctor Who octopus) and the Google Doctopus (for my friend Andrew who created the Doctopus Add On for Google Drive). Being able to work with a base model and make simple changes was a great way to ease into the design process. I am slowly growing my cephalopod army!
From there, I decided to try out the dual extruder capabilities of my Dreamer. I fiddled a bit with some badges for edcamps that turned out ok. I need to do some more research on color bleeding between filaments, but not bad for a first try.
I’m also still printing a bunch of pre-made models as I find interesting ones. I absolutely adore the Articulated Trilobite model, and have made two of them so far. I’ve always been fascinated by trilobites, and have had some great discussions with my students about them when they saw my little critters.
I also printed a case for my Raspberry Pi, but now I need to make some modifications since I purchased a mini touch screen display for it from Adafruit.
This past week I’ve been working on a LARGE print. I have been thoroughly enamored with dragons for most of my life, and recently an amazing articulated dragon model showed up on Thingiverse. It was the perfect monster print job to really put the Dreamer to work. With ~42 parts, I had to break it up into about half a dozen print jobs, with most of them taking between five and six hours to print. I also ended up making some modifications and reprints of parts that didn’t print out as nicely as I wanted. I finally finished the last print job late last night, and spent about 2 hours this morning assembling it. I am exceedingly pleased with the results!
My summer plan is to spend some more time in Tinkercad to get more comfortable with designing my own items, which will help when I then turn around and teach it to the kids. I also want to come up with some more 3D printing projects that are relevant and curricular based. I am heading to the National MakerFaire in DC this weekend, so I’m hoping to get some more ideas there.
And, of course, having a 3D printer makes it even easier to humiliate my dogs!