A few weeks back I was invited to participate in a class at the University of Nevada, Reno, where participants would build a 3D printer from a kit and learn how to use it. I jumped at the chance since you get to keep the printer, and I saw the possibilities to take it with me on the road as I travel throughout the rather large region I cover as STEM Learning Facilitator in northwest Nevada.
The class is being taught by the same mechanical engineering folks that facilitate our high altitude balloon launches (see the TEDxDenverEd video in the right margin of this blog). My colleague Doug Taylor who taught with me for years when we collaborated on those launches and much more is taking the class with me and is building his own 3D printer.
I do not have much of a background in programming unless you count a bit of BASIC I learned 30 years ago or the LOGO I dabbled in with students, so I see this as stretching me a bit as well as providing another resource for the school districts I serve.
After presenting us with some background on advanced manufacturing we were put into pairs since 2 printers came in each box, and put to work putting them together. The directions are YouTube videos and PDF files you are linked to – which is a nice combination.
You can see they crammed 2 printers in each box and there are numerous parts and many are very small. The tools are Allen wrenches, screwdrivers and pliers.
ABOVE: Everything required to build 2 printers.
BELOW: A finished printer printing gears. This is the instructors’ practice printer – they figured they better go through the process of building one themselves. The printing material is blue plastic – reminds me of the line you use in a yard trimmer, but a bit thicker. You can see the blue spool of material in the upper left of the photo.
These are MakerFarm Prusa 8″ i3 3D Printers - about $600
BELOW: Some of the parts I assembled our first day.
BELOW: And here is what I got done the first day after about 2-3 hours. Finished pieces are on top. Lots left to do. Next class is this Saturday. I’ll try to post our progress.
Learning Is Messy!