Various initiatives have been ongoing to support students to have access to tools and maker skills. This includes a 3D printer. As educators and schools are looking for advice on what type to get, it is a must to recognize that the needs of the students in a classroom are unique from those of professional makers or hobbyists. Below are some important criteria that educators may consider when assessing 3D printers for the classroom.
A 3D printer could break and spending money on it does not really mean that such would break less. Schools and educators are often stretched pretty thin. Having to repair the printer is such a burden. It would help to get recommendations on which ones to use. This will give them an idea on how to use the machine and which is the best one to be used in the classroom that will deliver the expected results.
3D printing is a type of rapid prototyping but it is important to know that it is a relative term. Even the smaller prints would take up to 45 minutes or even more, almost the same time in a regular class. All three-dimensional printers print slow. Thus, you need to be sure that you don’t choose one that is very slow. Always stay on top of a print speed of 50mm per second.
Resolution is not really as significant as one may think in terms of 3D printing. Children are astonished by the fact that digital makings are now becoming physically real. They don’t really care about the differences between 200 and 300 microns.
The cost of three dimensional printers has dramatically lessened and this does not equate to quality. You would find so many other options that will fit any budget. Always take into consideration the proprietary filament that is often higher than the standard filament.
The need is to acquire the largest printer that you can buy, but try to fight this urge for your class. The bigger the printer’s print bed is, the bigger the class is going to print. This means that it will take more time to be printed. Spend time using smaller printers then feel free to have a larger one to reward those who have prototypes and exceptional interest.
The greater number of printers the you have, the more chances that the students would be able to use them. This also means that you would have more spares in case of a breakdown. It would be best to opt for quantity than quality when using three dimensional printers with students. Moreover, staying and using the same model would mean that you would have extra parts in case you need them and learning different workflows is not necessary.
The process of getting the best printer can be a bit challenging. The key is to always take your time in choosing while considering your needs and the results you want to achieve.
See also: Stratasys 3D Printer