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tomdick&harry

UM for UK school?

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Hi. I teach Design and Technology in a UK school and we are seriously considering purchasing a UM kit for our small department. I was wondering how sensible/feasible other users think this would be. Questions of how robust it is, ease of set up and use, running costs, customer support spring to mind. Also, we have autodesk inventor which can save as STL files, what software is best used to set all the parameters for printing? Remember, wer'e talking school kids who have short lesson time and not massive expereince! I'd really appreciate your advice. Many thanks.

 

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The Ultimaker software (Cura) is very easy to setup and use. You can try this already, Cura can be found under "Community -> downloads", it's free and you can install it on as many computers as you want.

The machine itself will require some care and handling, but it's very robust. I personally have no issue with kids using my machine for example. You do need someone who is dedicated enough to play with it and understand it (as with any machine)

 

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My ten year old daughter helped me build my printer last year, and has been utterly fascinated by the entire 3D print process. She's learned her way around CAD and slicing tools, and the mechanics and operation of the printer, loading filament, etc and can quite happily design and print her own things now. I think it's a fabulous, hands-on way to get kids - especially girls, perhaps - interested in engineering and technology.

The printer is pretty robust, but as Daid said, it will need someone to take ownership of it and understand it, and be able to carry out basic maintenance to keep it running smoothly, and advise others on how to get the best possible results.

Another thing to consider is that 3D printers aren't particularly fast - prints typically take from half-an-hour for small things up to ten hours or more for larger or more complicated things. Therefore, you'll need to think about how it will be used, and when, because you'll only be able to print a limited amount of things on any given day.

 

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Thanks for this. I suppose I just needed an arm round the shoulder (or a kick up the backside!) before getting underway. One of the things I really like about UM is the community that has clearly developed. I'll download Cura and see how an old git gets on. Might be better if I was 10! I'm really only thinking of it as a way of manufacturing one off, products - perhaps almost as an answer to not being able to injection mould. I dare say once we get started its use will become clearer but I don't expect to have groups of 20 students waiting in turn to use it. Thanks again.

 

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Unless you really are invested in this mentally I wouldn't get it for a class. It took me maybe 20 hours to get all the kinks out. What I thought was perfectly assembled ended up having a slightly loose set screw, a rubbing belt (that looked fine) and didn't know about using isopropyl alcohol for the first 20 prints. It can be very frustrating. 20 extra hours for a teacher might be months or a year unless you take it home and spend 2 hours every night for a week. Other people have occasionally gotten a defective part that wasn't obvious, made a mistake in assembly, miswired motors, and more.

But it's also very rewarding. If you are willing to bring it home and tinker with it until it works nicely, and if you are the one who kicks off every print manually, then it could be great. If you go for it, be prepared to have to take pictures and post them on this forum, but you *will* eventually get it working if you do that and follow all the advice. It just might take tens of hours.

I'm thinking in a CAD/architecture class it would be fun to print the kid's house designs (with removable roof or missing roof of course!). However I think the UM really is amazing for artists.

 

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