(A 3D printer, for those of you not in the know, prints objects in three dimensions. It prints using a plastic filament that comes in spools; the plastic melts and is reformed into objects that you create using online software like Google Sketchup or Blender.)
Lizz attended a Maker's Space workshop last spring, and since then, a 3D printer has been high on our list of Things We Want. When the new library opened, we did some online price comparisons and discussed the possibility of the purchase with our school director. We were soon allowed to get a 3D printer--so long as the first thing we printed was a cat.
We selected the Solidoodle 3D printer, 3rd generation, based in part on the recommendation of our summer student worker, who has one of his own and boasted of the ease with which he could make iPhone cases and keychains for his friends. The Solidoodle is bare-bones and industrial-looking, but it's affordable and we liked how clearly you could see the way it was put together and the way it worked. We ordered two 50-foot spools of plastic filament, one black and one white.
We were very excited when it arrived in the mail.
|Solidoodle: Made in Brooklyn, NYC|
|Isn't it beautiful?|
|Sean knows how to use instructions.|
We tried it out immediately. It took some tinkering, and some 3D printer fails, but eventually we got our first object (the director's requested cat) printing away. Lizz did some research and realized hairspray could help the plastic stick to the base; eventually we raised the temperature of the bed for even more successful printing, sans hairspray.
|The base of the Upper School Director's plastic cat.|
|Students minds are blown as Sean demos the 3D printer.|
|A student watches an original design take shape.|
|It's a t-rex head mounted like a wall trophy.|
We have great plans for the 3D printer.
|3D octopus fail; the base came unattached from the heat bed, causing the plastic |
to spill all over the place before we finally noticed and killed the print job.
|A successfully completed 3D octopus waves "hello."|