Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fixing the 3D Doodler

Ever since we got it a year ago, we have been fighting with our 3Doodler, a glue-gun like pen that allows you to "draw" in 3D by extruding plastic like a 3D printer does. To be fair, most of our problems stem from our use of a cheaper filament instead of buying it from WobbleWorks, the makers of the 3Doodler.  We are a maker club though. What do they expect? After all, our unofficial motto is "It still works..." (said in an indignant tone of voice).

[Teacher note: Or, maybe it's always broken because they are energetic middle school kids...]

Going back to the original point, we tried many tricks to try to fix our 3Doodler. They ranged from shoving a poke-thing up it, to holding it upside down and saying an incantation (it did improve the situation) and were affectionately termed juju-magic.

Then, while in desperation at the East Bay Mini Maker Fair I tried switching to using positive reinforcement while talking to the 3Doodler, I learned that earlier my friend had taken it apart as a project to try and fix it (see pics below).  He told me that when our filament, curved from the spools it comes on, was shoved in our 3Doodler (it wasn't my fault...) it over time bent the internal tubing.

Because of this our filament was catching as it went in, frequently jamming. We had the idea of bending the filament to straighten it, thus decreasing the chance of it catching on the bent inside of the tube. With this small modification, and despite the bent inside of the tube, our 3Doodler runs perfectly.

Now the moral of this is either just pay the money and it will work, take apart your expensive stuff, communication is key, or always tweak. I personally prefer the last one and I know many of my fellow BPC makers prefer the second, but for some reason a few of my fellow students prefer the third.

- Daniel, 8th grade

Monday, October 20, 2014

Introducing our Othermill

After our experiences with 3D printing, we have been looking forward to venturing into the long-established world of subtractive manufacturing.  The Othermill is a new tool in our classroom.

The kids will write more about how they use it soon, but one of the first lessons we learned?  It is FAR louder than the 3D printers. :)  The 3D printers basically run all day in my science room.  This one is a little harder to ignore.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Greetings from the East Bay Mini-Maker Faire

The kids and I had a lovely day with our fellow makers at the East Bay Mini-Maker Faire today.  If you are visiting our page for the first time, welcome!  It will take us a few days to get new posts up.  In the meantime, feel free to:

1.  Go over there in the sidebar ------------------------------>
Type in your email address and hit 'submit' to subscribe by email.  That way, when we do get to writing a post, a notification will appear in your inbox. :)

2.  Follow us on Twitter.

3. Like us on Facebook.

Looking forward to sharing soon!

BPC Maker Club booth :)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Tales of a 3D Printer Shout-Out! :)

So, I needed a link from our blog earlier today. When I googled it,  I was surprised to see this post appear in my search results.

Apparently, a blogger named Karie Huttner wrote a post about 3D Printing on and had these three good lessons to share:

Lesson 1 – Consume to Create
Lesson 2 – Connect with your Community
Lesson 3 – Resources

Under resources, she writes, "You aren’t the first one to go down this path.  Tapping into resources like the Invent to Learn website resources will help immensely.  Connect with other educators.  Follow blogs like MakerHome and Tales of a 3D Printer… you just never know what you will learn."

Sweet! We're a resource!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Finding our (Work)Flow

One of the things we constantly struggle with is prioritizing time on the printer. The kids are always in the room at recess, lunch, passing periods, even occasional weekends... trying to get prints started. We've tried (1) first-come-first-served, (2) Google Doc sign ups, (3) Hunger-Games-style (last kid standing uses the printer), (4) dry erase board sign up.... but nothing has stuck yet.  

Below is our newest attempt at managing the workflow on the printers. The idea is that when the printer is idle (which is getting rarer and rarer these days), the kids and/or I can grab a sheet and run a few prints. 

Does anyone have advice on a good system that works?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Matter and Form Meets Middle School

This is what our Matter and Form scanner looks like right now:

Here's what it is supposed to look like:
Yes, we took it apart.... 

(Note: We really don't recommend doing this.  Nor do the folks at Matter and Form recommend doing this.  In fact, had we not brought it crashing to the ground, dislodging the plate from where it belongs and sending it scattering across the floor, we would have much preferred to have a functional scanner without pipe cleaners! Kids, always get your parent's [or teacher's] permission before taking things apart.)

Of course, our teacher was a little worried about voiding the warranty, but I am pretty sure we voided the warranty when a kid accidentally got his foot wrapped in its power cord and pulled the entire thing to the ground. 

As of yesterday, we hadn't quite gotten our scanner working yet, but we've gotten some OK scans from it. But remember, this is a middle school. We were working on it, but we had it out on the edge of a table. Then... oops.

The scanner did not break it as much as we thought, which is a credit to the construction of the scanner. What the fall did do, however, was dislodge the disk on top of the scanner, so we tried to put the disk back. Then we had to take it apart, because the disk doesn't fit back in from the top.  We had to take the scanner apart and attach the disk from the underside.  (Did we mention that it was all greasy to promote turning?!)

This worked, except we didn't get the motor aligned with the disk.  Well, we didn't really realize the gears needed to align between the motor and the disk.

Then we tried to take it apart again. This time, we broke off some bearing holders inside.  After complimenting its construction, it seems we had found its weakest link!  These tiny pieces of plastic poked up and supported three metal bearings.  Oops.

Not so much of a credit to the scanner, but multiple deconstructions by middle schoolers was probably not a problem that they were anticipating. We came up with a high-tech solution to the broken parts - pipe cleaners. We put pipe cleaners where the holders were, like this:

High tech operation going on here. Here's another pic of the underside of the disk, with our pipe cleaner bearing holders.

We had to take it apart once more, (that's three times if you're counting), because we didn't screw in the back properly. In order to screw it back into the base, we'd have to remove the disk from the top.  Which is what started this entire mess in the first place!  [Teacher's Note: reminds me of this.]  We think that it was originally assembled by a machine, so we can't actually put it back together properly. It does scan, though, it just doesn't have all the casing on.

So now it looks like this: 

We are running a scan as we type this.  So far, so good. 

So, it is working, but... these are all the parts that used to be in the scanner, but aren't right now....
And, just because why not, here is a scan of the Matter and Form scanner taken with our Structure Sensor using Skanect!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Avi Reichental's TED talk published

Avi Reichental of 3D Systems gave a TED talk back in March 2014.  It was recently posted for our viewing pleasure.  If you enjoy 3D printing, please do yourself a favor and watch it. :)
3D printing is not going to catapult us into the future, but rather it's going to connect us with our heritage; and it's going to usher in a new era of localized, distributed manufacturing that is actually based on digital fabrication.
In this video you can see the first object ever 3D printed in 1983 by Chuck Hull.  Also, hear about the incredible story of 3D System's challenge to print Amanda Boxtel's a custom-fit and more feminine EKSO Bionics exoskeleton.  He even talks about kids and new tools such as haptics!

Of course my favorite Avi quote is "With 3D printing, complexity is free."

The best use of our digital thermometer yet!

Troubleshooting the Cube.  Again.

(more on this fix coming...)

Monday, August 25, 2014

3DPW Expo Seattle Report & Droplit DIY Kit!

This weekend, I got myself an expo pass to the 3D Printer World Expo in Seattle, WA.

Now I've got our eye on this SLA machine, Droplit, an entirely open source resin-based stereolithography (SLA) printer soon to be offered by SeeMeCNC!  It will come as a kit, although all the pieces (save for that one metal cylinder shape) are open source!  The UV source comes from a DLP projector from which you will need to remove the UV filter.  To cure the resin?  A UV nail lamp from Walmart!  Now, THAT's our kind of budget.  You can read more about the Droplit on this post.

I also got the chance to chat with the Matter and Form folks.  We will be receiving ours any day now!

A 3D printer zoetrope - what a great idea and potentially awesome collaborative school project. :)

Finally, I wanted to acknowledge the Made in Space project.  It's pretty incredible - they plan to send their first printers into microgravity on September 21!

Eventually, they hope to use moon dirt as their "filament" to build what they will need.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Buttercup the Duck Gets a New "Swim Foot"!

This is a fabulous, heartwarming application of 3D printing.   We've been following Buttercup's story for a while now, and this week there was announced an exciting new development!  Buttercup's "dad," Mike, from the Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary has developed a new "swim foot."  This foot has little trap doors that open when he moves his foot forward to allow water to pass through, then close when he kicks to maximize thrust.  Brilliant!

You can read more (and see more pictures!) on Buttercup's Facebook page!