Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Learning in Public Reflection #5

The Makerbot is up and running in full swing. I've printed alligators, dinosaurs, moustache rings and now a moustache cookie cutter. The learning curve is fairly steep, but the work done by others is making this learning so enjoyable.

What's awesome about the 3D printing community is that they are much like my Tweeps: THEY SHARE! They don't judge (too much) and will always point me in the right direction.

Case and point is my cookie cutter print. I've been trying to find the time to get some Google Sketchup practice in, but I'm finding it very challenging. Our Food Studies teacher is getting students to make baked  goods in the shape of moustaches. She got her father (who is an Industrial Arts teacher) to make amazing aluminum moustache molds by wrapping them around wooden shapes and then welding them together. Great effort went into these products. I wish I knew how to weld!

I was inspired to try and make my own cookie cutters from the makerbot. Thingiverse has many of them that are shared. After searching around the web I stumbled upon something that amazed me. On the Guru Blog, by Nikolaus Granwhol, he has created a cookie cutter maker that is a simple node editor that allow background images to be traced! Here's the image I used as my backdrop.

Next the program exported the STL file needed by ReplicatorG to communicate with the Makerbot. Here you can scale it, and move the shape around to get the best fit for the size of the platform.

My first print was pretty decent, with some major errors where you would push on the cookie cutter. I learned within the 11 minute print that my extruder Z height was too high, and that I needed to adjust the temperature of the Heated Build Platform to around 130C. I've been running it at 120, but without a raft this temp hasn't been cutting it.

The second print was more successful and a different colour! 

Things to Work On
Today when I was printing 1 moustache ring at a time for our Movember fundraiser, I was looking longingly at all the extra space around the ring. I need to learn commands such as multiply in the GCode that is generated by RepG and Skeinforge. Thanks to the MAkerbot community online I've received 11 responses in the past few hours! Multiple moustaches will be printed at once tomorrow!

Satisfying Learning, Will Need Second Bot Soon! 
It's so satisfying to have something to look at and analyze within a few minutes. One implication for my class is to have my students print in plastic as a final product instead of printing several iterations of their designs. Printing may be backing up very soon.

One thing I find myself doing more of is taking tons of photos and videos of our class printing. I'm encouraging cells phones to be out for documentation sake and it's generating a nice archive of my journey.

In All Seriousness
I'm going to have to be careful as to my approach. I may even have to just try my approach out this unit and make adjustments as we go along. My wiki I'm starting for Design Studies can be found here. Right now, students are struggling to follow this design process and not jump right into prototyping and modelling in Sketchup. I don't want to stifle their enthusiasm, but I want them to think critically about the evolution of their products. For their first challenge I've given them the task of creating a unique 3D Keychain with their name/initials on it.

Take a look at my wiki and outline of the Design Process I've given them. What could I do differently? What guiding questions could I ask of them?

Keep it awesome!

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