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The Benefits of 3D Printing in Education

For many people living in this generation, subjects in school were not very – visual. Math problems and science experiments were done using textbooks, practising problems and the occasional science experiment (gone wrong). Schools and other education facilities involved problems that were often impractical. But recently technology has started to help matters. From calculators to computer-aided design, we could do problems beyond our simple capabilities. Now with the introduction of 3D printers and filament extrusion in the education environment, we are starting to improve how scholars interact with the world around them.

What Took So Long?

Planning the next big idea is now much easier. Image via Unsplash

It wasn’t until recently that 3D printers became more obvious in school and universities. The main cause for this is that pricing structures are now more affordable. Luckily there are companies out there trying to solve this problem.

Take for example Airworlf 3D, who want their AXIOM 3D printer used in schools as much as possible. This is thanks to its low cost and ease of use. What is great is that the printer is being used in schools all over the world. M.I.T., USC Roski School of Fine Arts, Cerritos College,  Florida State University, Jenkins Middle School (CO), and Huntington Beach High Schools (CA) are to name a few. Next is the Makerbot Academy, a project to help get a 3D printer into every US school.

Another cost to overcome is the price of the filament for the 3D printers. Most companies are trying to find cheap ways for schools to get filament, but it is not always easy. Here at 3devo we are trying to make redoing prints more accessible. Thanks to the NEXT and now the new SHR3D IT, schools would be able to shred prints and create new filament at the end of the day or week. This in turn reduces long-term spending.

A few years ago, price may have been a barrier for education facilities, but this is no longer the case. Thanks to reduced printer costs and faster adoption rates around the world, it is now easier for schools to afford 3D printers. But does having a printer in every class benefit the students, both young and old?

Make Learning Fun Again

Additive Manufacturing – the classes you’ll never skip

If you can think back to your school days, most of you would have had that one crazy science teacher, trying his or her best to make classes fun and enjoyable. In this process, you also tended to learn a lot too. The only issue, besides many safety violations, is practical experiments were often very limited. Subjects such as geography or mathematics would use textbooks. This drops the fun that could be available using real-life examples. 3D printing is trying to change this perception. In doing so, many benefits follow the introduction of 3D printing into STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics).

See It To Believe It

The first benefit – able to see an idea become reality. Quite often, learning about a subject would entail many drawings in a book, maybe a video if you are lucky. But it is not always easy to understand what something looks like. For example, learning about how the Earth’s tectonic plates move around and create earthquakes. Illustrations help, but actually creating physical objects to show students can help put it all into perspective. Using a printer, explaining complex systems is easy and kids will understand how common technologies interact with each other. Our world and how we interact with it isn’t all black and white. Students are realising that they are no longer limited to visualising complex topics, now they can feel and touch it too.

Maths And Engineering Now Play A Real Role

There are many times during math and engineering classes where students question whether or not a certain equation will be of any use. Well, in 3D printing, an object first needs to be designed in some type of CAD software. This often requires someone to have a fair bit of math knowledge to understand everything. It forces the student to use the knowledge they have learnt in maths and engineering subjects and apply them to a project. On the other side, students can replicate a problem or project they are busy with to help get clearer understanding of the problem as a whole.

Students Become The Creator

an Image showing several objects made with PPSF plastic

As the saying goes, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. The same is applied in education. From the previous point, making use of a 3D printer in a classroom means that the students can now be in charge to what the outcome of a problem. Students will have the opportunity to create their own objects, helping to boost their creativity. Also with the help of products such as filament extruders, students can now test out different materials for different results. This can result in unexpected successes and failures. Both of which can help contribute to a student’s progress in learning a particular topic or subject.

Reducing On-Screen Time

The introduction of internet was immense in education. It turned a culture from saying, “I guess we’ll never know to answer to that question” to “Just Google it”. Students can learning an extraordinary amount of new topics on the internet with ease. However, that ease leads to an increase on how long the child spends on the computer, i.e. an increase of on-screen time. The introduction of 3D printers means that children will become more interactive with something physical as opposed to something on the computer. Parents concerned about their child’s health, as glued to computer screen all day can lead to headaches and eyestrain. 3D-learning is a way to let kids use their imaginations to build or assemble collections of 3D printable objects that will keep them engaged in the real world and learning too.

What Subjects Can Benefit From 3D Printing and How

A 3D Printed Mini Help Canal House by Local Makers
A 3D Printed Mini Help Canal House by Local Makers
  • Mathematics – Math students can print out “problems” to solve in their own learning spaces, from scale models to city infrastructural design challenges.
  • Geography – Raw data can now be turned into objects to help with: population growth, erosion effects or even how mountains are formed. Production of topography, demographic, or population maps in 3D is changing the way students are learning geography.
  • History – Fossils and other artifacts can now be printed. This allows students to explore and understand the past in a real and more concrete way. These replicas can be manipulated more easily than precious archaeological artifacts and produced at reasonable costs.
  • Biology / Chemistry – Students can print out 3D models of molecules, cells, viruses, organs, and other critical biological artifacts. The 3D printed reproduction allows the pupils, especially the most kinesthetic of them, to understand a process or how it works.
  • Architecture – Most of architectural sketches and mock-ups are now designed with specialized CAD-software. This allows students to materialize their ideas. This can save hours on creating a study mockup and therefore save time to redo and improve their idea.
  • Design – Design programs are based on sketching and then producing these ideas in a design studio or lab. This is to get the whole process from a sketch to a final product. Design teachers have often stated that the development of CAD programs or 3D modelling software are not always the best. This is because it will lead to students spending more time in the virtual environment than learning from the studio and from practical workshops.

The Future of 3D Printing in Education

It is easy to see how 3D printing and filament extrusion will benefit the education sector. Students will start enjoying their subjects more often. 3D printing as a whole will become more mainstream and better adopted. When combining these two, it will lead to a society advancing its technology and problem solving. In the next five to ten years, students will be looking back at 3D printers the way we looked at calculators at school, except with a smile knowing that he or she is about to turn an idea into reality.

Is PETG the best filament in the 3D Printing Industry?

When it comes to 3D printing, information about filaments such as PLA and ABS is plentiful. However there is another filament out there –  PETG. With its strong, durable and ease of use characteristics, are making it more and more popular by the day. 3devo delves into what PETG is, how it compares to the aforementioned polymers in terms of printing and extrusion.

What is PETG?

 

 

Source: Pixabay

 

PETG first started as simply PET, or polyethylene terephthalate. PET had and still has many great uses, with its fibers being used everywhere from food packaging to plastic bottles, as well as other common plastic items. There are many variations of PET, such as ETE, PETP, PET-P, etc., however, the G in PETG stands for glycol. Glycol prevents crystallization in the thermoforming process (i.e. preventing it from turning hazy).

Thanks to the glycol, it means the classic PET is modified for extra durability. PETG has recently become very popular as 3D-printing filament due to this durability, so let’s take a closer look at what makes it so great.

Why did we choose to test PETG?

Source: 3devo testing area – PETG (Genius 80M) in its granular form.

 

PETG has quite a few beneficial properties, especially when it comes to applications such as 3D printing. It comes in a whole range of translucent colours, but here are some of its most common attributes:

 

Durable – regular PET becomes very hard and brittle when it starts overheating. PETG is also more flexible than ABS and PLA, too. The inclusion of glycol really helps here, making items such as a plastic bottle more comfortable to hold in the hand as well.

 

Temperature resistant – both minimal shrinkage and warping make it great for printing large objects.

 

Sticky – PETG is a bit sticky, this means that it would not be good to use it as a support structure for 3D printing models, but its layer adhesion is usually fantastic.

 

Good chemical resistance – great chemical resistance, with good water, acidic and alkalic resistance.

 

Tough – PETG is very strong. It’s not brittle, however, it can be easily scratched (more easily than ABS). It also has a high impact resistance, similar to that of polycarbonate.

 

Amorphous – excellent transparency and high gloss surface (great for artistic print items).

 

Environmentally friendly – recyclable and food safe. In medical applications, it also stands up to radiation and chemical sterilization techniques without changing color.
In short it combines the benefits of PLA (easy to print with) with the benefits of ABS (strong, durable and temperature resistant).

 

Common applications of PETG

Source: 3devo printed parts with in house made PETG filament (Genius 80M)

 

PETG is used in a variety of signage, packaging, industrial and medical applications:

 

  • Medical equipment such as braces and pharmaceutical packages
  • Protective guards/coatings
  • Bottles and food packaging
  • Guards and covers for electronic equipment
  • Point-of-purchase and graphic displays

Why PETG instead of PLA or ABS?

Source: 3devo 2.85mm spool PETG Genius 80M, made on the NEXT 1.0 Advanced Level Extruder

 

When it comes to printing with PETG, the above characteristics all help making it a great choice. As shown above extruding a roll is simple (you can visit our store if you’re in the market for an extruder), and printing is not too bad either (some users have made this their top choice of filament). We would not recommend printing everything with it as you might not always want your item to be so flexible, but below is a brief summary of how it compares with PLA and ABS.

 

PETG PLA ABS
Hardness Very flexible Not very flexible R105 to R110 (Harder)
Durability Very flexible Not very flexible More flexible
Food safe Food safe Food safe Not food safe
Heat bed Heated bed is not a must but it can be an advantage Doesn’t need a heated bed for 3D printing Needs a heated bed for 3D printing
Price Slightly more expensive than PLA (+/- 10%) Average price range Cheapest of the three
Recommended 3D printing temperature 220 to 250 °C for the hotend 190-220°C 230-250°C
Recommended print-bed temperature 50-60°C 50-70°C 80-120°C

Most makers out there say PETG isn’t the easiest to initially print with, as you first have to find that “sweet” spot if you want to create some quality prints.
We at 3devo really enjoy this practical polymer. PETG is very practical and easy of use when it comes to printing, and its combination of rigidity and mechanical properties makes it a great all rounder, perfect for your next 3D-printing idea. Don’t forget to check out our blog for more interesting articles.

Should You Buy A Filament Extruder?

If you enjoy 3D printing and often make a variety of prints, your filament choices are probably becoming more and more important. The best quality brand, the best filament type for your prints, the best deals you can find and the quality of the filament all play a big role in choosing your filament. However, there is now another choice that is becoming increasingly popular – to buy 3D printing filament or simply make your own using a filament extruder. Depending on who you are filament extruders could make sense for you or your business. Should you buy a filament extruder?  This article is will guide you through the questions you need to ask yourself before making that decision.

Filament Extruders – A Short Introduction

Basically, the one on the right makes the stuff in the middle for the one on the left.

Until recently, desktop filament extruders were only a myth. Everyone, unless you were a 3D printing Yoda, had to buy filament from local stores and order online. Industrial filament extruders have always been around, else how else would manufacturers and retailers sell your filament? Yes, these are the best pieces of equipment you could ever own if you enjoyed 3D printing, but not everyone has thousands of dollars lying around and an extra garage to place the Death Star-sized machine. But then desktop filament extruders came along and changed a lot of people’s minds. You now had the option of creating filament right there, on your desk, like a baby Luke Skywalker using his Light Saber to melt away pellets into a neat filament coil.

You see, a filament extruder allows you to produce your own filament for your 3D printing needs. I mean, the concept sounded only natural to say the least. Why do you buy a 3D printer? – So that someone else doesn’t have to do it for me. However, filament extruders are a little different, and below are some factors to help you decide.

Convenience

That’s some 7/11 convenience right there.

With filament extruders, you buy a bunch of pellets, throw them into the machine, and within minutes you’ll have some fresh, clean filament to use for 3D printing. It’s like having a 7/11 outside your house – if that 7/11 sold pre-heated gourmet food. The convenience factor is a tough one, though, as many people find it easier to simply drive to their nearest store that sells filament.

Time To Buy – If you find yourself in a constant struggle with having the wrong filament, your filament is old, or your don’t have time to order some new stock, then a filament extruder may be for you.

Stay Away – If you’ve been buying filament from the same place for years and trust your filament brand, or you have enough filament to last you for some time, then buying a filament extruder may not be the best option.

Price

Pellets can save you a lot of money in the long term.
Pellets can save you a lot of money in the long term. They also look neat.

Now this will vary according to the filament you buy, and the filament extruder you are thinking to buy. This is actually split into three choices ranging from buying a filament extruder, making your own filament extruder or just carrying on with buying your regular filament. I’ll help you out a bit with determining if buying a 3D printer will be a cost-effective alternative.

When you buy filament from a store it is naturally more expensive than making your own, as you don’t have to factor in rent and business operating costs when making it at home. However, and this is the BIG ‘however’, making your own filament means that you’ll either have to buy a seemingly expensive device or troubleshoot your way if building your own.

This will vary depending on the type of filament and extruder you want to buy. via Kickstarter
This will vary depending on the type of filament and extruder you want to buy.

The graph is just a simple indication of the money you’ll save once you have purchased your filament extruder. However, this doesn’t mean everyone will save.

Time To Buy – If you’ve used my rough template or something similar and found that after a while making your own filament is more cost effective, think about buying one. It’s initially somewhat expensive, but if you do a lot of printing, need specific colors (see below) or a combination of all the factors in this article, it may be your best purchasing decision yet (besides your 3D printer, of course).

Stay Away – After using my rough template, if you find that you don’t buy a lot of filament, or you’re able to find great deals, then a filament extruder won’t be for you.

Customization

Be careful. This may get addictive.
Be careful. This may get addictive.

One of the great benefits of buying your own 3D printer is that you are in control. You decide what components go where and what your overall print will look like. Remember, you are making the filament. Whether you’re a university student that wants to include some type of nanomaterial into the filament, or a new company that wants to make a skin-friendly prosthesis filament, the variety is immense. Currently, you only have limited options to achieve this. Either you use industrial experimentation (very expensive), hire a lab extruder (not that much cheaper), or choose a filament extruder.

Time To Buy – If you enjoy mixing colors or want to create your own type of filament, then a filament extruder can be a good option. It’s great if you’re an artist, designer, or someone wanting to push the boundaries of what your store-bought filament is capable of. Some extruders offer better methods to analyze material properties, so take this into account before making a decision.

Stay Away – If you’re not fussy the color you use for printing, then continue with your regular filament. Yes, it may be great having the options to choose what type of filament you want to use at that moment, but if you’ve been happy with the results so far, then outlaying a lot of money for a filament extruder might be a bit extravagant.

Conclusion

3D printing for most is truly an enjoyable experience. However, your filament requirements need to be met first before getting settled. For some, buying filament from the local store or online is just easier. But, and many 3D-printing enthusiasts will understand this, it’s all about being in control. The topics above will help you narrow your decision down and hopefully lead you into buying your first filament extruder, or, if the case may be, save you a lot of time and unnecessary costs.

A Guide To FDM Printable Plastics And 3D Printing Filament

When it comes to 3D printing, we are witnessing a huge wave of development, either in the 3D printing technology or in the use of innovative (something simpler). The process of producing 3D prints from various materials is generally called Additive Manufacturing (because the object is produced by adding a number of material layers until finish). In the past years, 3D printing has greatly evolved, featuring several new manufacturing techniques.

Top 5 Most Useful 3D Printed Objects – August 2015

So you have a 3D printer, and you love printing simply because it’s your hobby. However, 3D printers can also print items that have some practical use. Whether for yourself, or perhaps for some great gift ideas, these objects may be pretty useful. Therefore in no particular order, let us take a closer look at some useful 3D printed objects for your home and office.

5. Knife-shaped Key Holder

Doesn't work well as actual knife, though.
Doesn’t work well as an actual knife, though. via Thingiverse

I’m not a huge fan of keys. I can never seem to find the right one, as it’ll usually be nestled deep in my pockets. But, with this handy knife-shaped key ring, you can now keep multiple keys all on one MacGyver-like keyring. It can also serve as a great gift idea, as it’s not always easy to find key holders look good and fit snugly in your pocket.

“Thanks for this, already printed 3 of these for friends 😀 I also found that you can do it with M4 threaded bushings and M4 Flat Allen Screws!” – Johetan

Just a note, the instructions might be a little cryptic, but many people have still received great results. Now all you need is a blade that can be locked into place and you’ll be all set.

4. Nut, Bolt, Washer and Threaded Rod Factory

Ratchet and Clank would be in heaven. via Thingiverse
Ratchet and Clank would be in heaven. via Thingiverse

It was only a matter of time. Nuts and bolts get lost and sometimes even break, and you might find yourself out of luck when looking for a replacement. Luckily, now with 3D printing, you’re able to get those nuts, bolts, washers, and threaded rods back with almost the same level of strength as before.

“Amazing!!! keep up man! with this, you have saved one my important project” – predator75

To get the right size, you simply have to type in the parameters that you require into Customizer. The designer is also very responsive in the comments section so if you have any questions it may have already been answered there.

Filament Clip

Also keeps your spaghetti together. via Thingiverse
Also keeps your spaghetti together. via Thingiverse

There are many objects out there making your 3D printing life easier, but this one just ticked all the right boxes for me. You can find objects designed just for your 3D printer, however, everybody needs filament, so keeping your filament in order and easily accessible it great.

“I have a situation where I have lots of loose filament and only one spool which already has filament on it. This is great as it allows me to use my spool with the loose filament as I can clip the spools filament down and also clip the new filament on the existing filament. Thanks you saved me a lot of hand feeding!” – DanielBull

I love that it works on any spool, plus you are also able to customize this model so it fits your filament in an elegant fashion.

Cable Clip

Neon color sold separately. via youmagine
Neon color sold separately. via Youmagine

It doesn’t matter if you’re a neat freak or not, after a certain number of cables, some level of cable management comes in useful. There are other types of cable management models out there too, but this one seemed to be the most practical. I love the fact that it is adjustable, so it doesn’t matter how thick your desk is. It also serves as a great place to keep your peripheral cables clean on your desk.

“Very useful thingy! I have a powered USB hub on my table that I often unplug – now the cables don’t drop under the table anymore.” – JonnyBischof

Getting the cables into the clip itself is extremely easy too, making it great for both your office and living room spaces.

Mobile Device Cases

Made from old Nokia 3310 parts. via Thingiverse
Salvaged from old Nokia 3310 parts. via Thingiverse

Yes, it seems like a cop-out in a list like this, but you can’t go wrong with something that’s going to protect a device that some people value more than their significant others. Whether you want a Portal-themed Galaxy Note 2 case all the way to a premium iPad Mini case, mobile devices have their purpose. A sturdy build and the ability to have infinite possibilities on how you want it to look.

“I have printed out 6 other cases for my iphone 6 and none of them fit but your v2 case fits perfectly and I am currently using it! Thank you for such a great design.” – Davinci3dprinter

For something that you will be looking at every day while providing your device with decent protection while making for a great gift idea, mobile device cases will always come in handy.

So yes, 3D printing is amazing for creating aesthetically pleasing objects for your home, but it also has the ability to produce items with some practical use, too. I hope these will help you, and let me know in the comments section if you know of any objects that you have found useful for your home or office.

 

Should You Buy A 3D Printer?

Face it – 3D printing is becoming huge in 2015. But, like a piece of old cheese in your fridge, it can either be your next Roquefort, or something that once getting into you will regret immediately. Buying a 3D printer and its accompanying equipment is certainly not cheap, or quick to learn. So in this post I’ll be giving you the reasons why you should buy one today, or throw that idea into the trash like the aforementioned cheese.

 

All aboard the hype train

Choo choo.
Choo choo. via Windows

Hype is a strange thing. You might be thinking that 3D printers are going to become more popular than the internet due to its recent media exposure, but the truth is that hype only works if you know exactly what you’re doing. New exercising equipment, new recipe books, that new 3D curved TV in your lounge. It might seem like a good idea at the time, but just because everyone else is jumping off a bridge, it doesn’t mean you should too. A 3D printer is not cheap, so time and effort must first be made before buying one.

Something as simple as buying the filament can get costly, so maybe also look into getting a filament extruder such as our NEXT 1.0 if you think you’ll really enjoy 3D printing. Do lots of research into the uses of 3D printing, and determine if you can see it aiding your career or even becoming your most cherished hobby.

 

Now I Can Make Toys To Show My Friends

Just wait till all my friends see this.
Just wait until all my friends see this. via funnyjunk

A 3D Printer is definitely not a gimmick. You (and especially your friends and family) are going to become real tired of you saying, “Hey look at this (object) I made” every time you make the same clothes peg or spoon. If you are going to make it a hobby of yours, make it a proper hobby. I’ve seen way too many people buying a 3D printer, only for it to gather dust as they couldn’t be bothered to try new creations. Just like any hobby, 3D printing will take time and effort, so make sure you can first afford a decent machine as well as set time aside to produce some quality works of art.

On the other hand, if you are buying one for your business, you need to avoid making objects that you think will increase sales. “If I make this 3D-printed donut, we’ll be rich” will not your aspiring bakery career, so first do your research into what careers benefit from 3D printers.

I Have No Idea What I’m Doing

Nailed it.
Nailed it. via Secured3D

Yes, a 3D printer is just one device that you can place on your table and then start printing till your heart’s content. But the thing is – and it’s the reason why so many people get a 3D printer in the first place – is that you can modify or create your own 3D models. If you have no idea how to use 3D-modelling software on your computer, then a 3D printer could end up being a waste of money.

The first thing you’ll probably do is print all the neat objects out there on the internet, but the fun will die off quickly. Next you’ll want to start designing objects that you have designed, and without proper knowledge, it can get extremely time and money consuming. Be prepared by doing as much research as you can, before you buy a 3D printer to know what software you’ll want to use and exactly how to use it.

Conclusion

3D printing is still in the early phases, so mistakes will happen and things will go wrong. However, the first step is knowing that a 3D printer is going to suit your needs. So rather save time, and of course money, and prepare yourself fully before making the investment.  Don’t just do it because you want one thing you saw on the internet, do it because you can see yourself making new objects from scratch in a few months time and will help make 3D printing become your number one passion/career opportunity.

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