I saw this article in this morning’s Washington Post on 3D printing tourniquets for the Ukrainian citizens and troops. An email or two later, I had the STL files, ordered some spools of black PETG, and now am dialing in my printer with some red PETG, but the parts must be black. It’s easy to print the parts, it’s just some time and materials. There are excellent directions, the STL files are provided and the prints simply need to be strong, but not beautiful.
This is the filament I ordered. I checked with the organizer and he said that filament would be fine. My red test parts turned out very strong, even with a 0.4mm nozzle. I have ordered an 0.8mm nozzle for $8.00 to help the printing go faster. If yours do not come out strong, feel free to contact me for some help.
The first screencast in this lesson covers building a picnic table from dimensional lumber in Tinkercad. A variety of skills are utilized with staying organized being emphasized. There is even some basic math used to help scale the project down so it will fit on TC’s print bed.
The second video demonstrates how to export the table out of Tinkercad, slice the STL file and then actually print the pieces with minimal support material. Finally, I glue it together.
I have used several slicing programs to prepare my models for 3D printing, but none comes close to PrusaSlicer, which is open-source (free) for all to use.
Unfortunately, up until now, you need a “real computer” to use it as it needed to be installed. Now, the Linux build can be installed on a Chromebook, making a premier slicer available to any student with a CB. After creating their model on SketchUp, Tinkercad, or Onshape, they can export the STL file, import it into PrusaSlicer, orient it on the print bed, add supports, slice it and export the gcode.
Here is how to install it on an old, cheap CB I bought for $200 at Costco three years ago. I wish the audio had been captured better by Loom, but did I mention it was an old Chromebook :-).
Recommending a 3D printer for the classroom is like trying to hit a moving target as companies come and go, support can be erratic and prices don’t really determine quality. My classroom has been equipped with 3D printers costing from $300 to $2,500 and each was purchased by someone else from above. Honestly, the $300 Monoprice model was just too basic, but if you were printing something small, it held its own compared to the $2,500 Taz 6, which is way overpriced.
When it came time for me to spend my own money on a printer for home, I chose one from Prusa Research in Prague. I can’t tell you if it has one or two zillion hours on it, but I finally had to replace the nozzle ($6) as I had worn the original one out, and I never print with an abrasive filament. The rest of the printer is still going strong.
There are many reviews on YouTube, so I’ll let you find those yourself, but here are some of the features I love and why I think they are perfect for the classroom.
Best bang for the buck, period.
All of the parts are open-sourced, so you have many options if you need parts.
Decent build volume, even on the Mini.
The build plate is made from coated spring steel and held in place with strong magnets. When you print is done, remove the plate and flex it to pop off the piece.
It’s pretty quiet.
Their free, open-source slicing software is the best out there. Even if you are not using a Prusa printer, you should take a look at PrusaSlicer.
3-day FedEx air freight at very reasonable prices.
Many profiles for printing filament from popular brands other than Prusa.
You can save money by assembling it yourself. My MK3 took me about 6 hours the first time, while I was watching TV. It comes with the best assembly manual you will ever find, plus there are how-to tutorials on YouTube.
Possible downsides include,
Your district may hesitate to purchase from a non-US company. That shouldn’t be a problem as if they use a credit card, they could always file a dispute.
There is no enclosure, which helps when printing materials like ABS where you want to minimize shrinkage/warping. However, you can build an inexpensive enclosure from IKEA tables and print all the parts yourself. I did this and it works great!
So, those are my thoughts (I have no connection or financial interest with anything mentioned in this post). For the cost of one Dremel, you can buy one MK3 and two Minis.
I teach a CE online class for teachers on 3D printing and can recommend one more essential, regardless of what printer you use. BUY THIS BOOK. It’s $20 and when you run into trouble, and you will, this will be your go-to source for solutions.
Being able to monitor your 3D printing job remotely is important, and fun. Some 3D printers come with a camera built-in, but mine didn’t, so to add one, I started with a webcam like you would use with Skype. The picture was OK, but if I wanted video in 1080p, a new webcam with that resolution was going to be at least $50.
I had a Wyze Cam v2 laying around and wondered if I could use that for monitoring in 1080p HD? I had previously set it up for my printer, but the only way you could view it was via the Wyze app, and that only works on a smartphone and I wanted more detail. For $19.99 and a little work, this is a great setup. Here’s what I did:
The v2 lens is adjustable if you do a little disassembling. It can also be replaced for less than $20 if you want a different focal length. I didn’t feel I needed to do that, but if you want to hunt around, search for “M12*0.5 Mount”
Now that your Wyze Cam is a USB webcam, you can monitor the video feed with a variety of free applications. Your OS likely already has one built-in like Windows Camera or Mac Photobooth.
I went one step further and installed Octoprint on a Raspberry Pi. This allows me to view the video feed on my computer, records a timelapse video, and with the Octopod plugin, I can monitor and control my print job remotely. More on that later.