At Raroa Intermediate School they have four 3D printers. Design Production Education teacher, Chris Bailey explains some of the considerations when planning to use a 3D printer with students in the classroom. He points out they are slow to print and often need to be set for overnight. Often the 3D printer is used to print a part for a larger project.
We've got four 3D printers working at the moment and obviously they are very, very popular. You know, every student wants to 3D print something. Part of the limitations with those, they are quite slow. And that's just some of the learning that has to happen with some of the students, you know. For what a lot of what I do, in this space particularly, I promote the 3D printer as just a tool for a bigger purpose. So I will use the 3D printer, not necessarily to print an entire project, but to print a part that goes towards a bigger project. So I will use the laser cutters or the other construction based tools to let the kids design and build something. But then, if they need a part to 3D print as part of that project we'll do that.
With integration, with classrooms we've had to start communicating with teachers and actually let them know because a lot of the teachers they don't know how slow it is and, you know, a lot of what we do is quite instant in here.
Fortunately with the printers we have they're quite safe so we can let them leave them overnight. They have a really good emergency power cut off switch so if anything does happen or anything does go wrong, it will just shut down. So we are able to manage some of the longer bigger projects in that way. So kids will often come rushing to school seven thirty, quarter to eight in the morning wanting to see their print job. And also part of the learning from that, and part of the limitations, is they don't always work. Part of the model might be not quite complete or something might have happened and one of the layers of the prints where it's just it's gone out of sync with the actual machine and it doesn't work. And a lot of times will come in the morning and they'll just be plastic everywhere and it will just, yeah, it will just be stringy like a big bird’s nest of plastic filament. Part of the disappointment for the students coming in is actually talking to them and helping them understand why. Talk about why it happened and, you know, that's all part of the learning process. So they have to be ready to see that failure and learn from it.