3d Printing in the Classroom with the CoLiDo 2.0+ Printer
Game design is not the only skill I try to teach my students. I want to impart upon them an awareness of up and coming technology that will impact their lives. So anytime there is an opportunity to give the class hands on experience with something such as VR or 3D Printing, I take it. Which was why I was so glad to be able to receive a CoLiDo 2.0+ 3D printer for my classroom!
The printer could not have come at a better time. My design students were right in the middle of creating and prototyping their own original board game designs and were thrilled to have the opportunity to print custom game pieces as well. Since working with 3d modeling software is a skill taught later in the year, my students took to the Web to find close approximations of the pieces they were seeing in their imaginations. The students were able to discover files STL files that would allow them to print masks, trees, house ruins, dragons inside eggs, and even a campfire to use in their designs.
Using the machine was simple. A technician came and setup the machine for us, calibrating the temperature and nozzle height ahead of time but also taking the time to show me how to do it if anything needed changing. A quick download from the CoLiDo web site gave me a free copy of the software needed to turn our STL files into printable data for the printer. We had our first print, a prop from a popular video game, printed in about two hours. I was able to turn it into a complete learning experience by talking with the students about how the printer could be easily used to create promotional or demo material for our later projects. The looks of amazement that we had pretty much just created something from nothing was all it took to get me wanting more.
Not everything was fun and games though. I did experience a few issues. During one print, the nozzle that the PLA plastic material is squeezed through became clogged, requiring a reprint of the current project. However, I was easily able to clear the clog using the simple instructions located directly on the front of the machine. My technician was surprised that I was able to do it so easily having had no previous experience with the printer. Another time, I had several prints that would mess up partially through the print and require that the project be restarted. After observing the piece in question being printed alone, I was able to see that during one portion of the process the nozzle would be a bit too low and would become covered in melted material. A quick trip back into the CoLiDo software on my computer was all it took to get me working again. Each time I have had an issue, I was able to figure things out on my own without a problem. However, if I was unable to solve the problem, my CoLiDo technician is simply phone call away.
Having the printer in my classroom has allowed me to open doors for my students in ways I simply couldn’t before. The printer can be used for sculpture, game props, maker activities, custom parts for robotics projects, and so much more. The possibilities are only limited by the classroom’s imagination. Due to our success introducing the printer in the class, we are working on plans to expand our capability to include a 3d Printing lab that will be available to our students for projects in the future. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!