3D printer sets benchmark students
Cardiff and Vale College has selected the MakerBotReplicator+ desktop 3D printer for use on its Product Design Foundation Degree course.
Based within the College campus in Cardiff city centre, the 30-week course leads towards a BTEC diploma in 3D design and is carefully tailored to help students develop a range of design skills across many areas of product design, including industrial, furniture, computer graphics, branding; set and prop design and spatial design. It purchased its MakerBot 3D printer from Antalis.
John Johansson, a design tutor on the course, explained why the college sees the MakerBot as essential, saying: “Central to the course is the study of materials and workshop processes to create models and prototypes. It helps learners achieve critical thinking, outlines 3D computer modelling, and puts historical and contemporary design in context. The printer has proved ideal for rapid prototyping and model making for our Foundation Degree learners, and our Makerbot 3D printers have become a core element for our learners’ design process within just the few months since we first implemented them.
“The main focus of this has been as part of our Foundation Degree’s first module where they are required to design a high heel shoe to showcase the possibilities of 3D printing. This project enables them to push the process to its limits in an experimental manner. Other examples of 3D printing have been used to produce rapid prototypes of handheld devices that can be used in testing within the time it takes to print the model. In addition to these, our learners and staff have also produced some very nice models for display purposes.”
To demonstrate what the MakerBot can do John created a model of a science-fiction themed female warrior. He said: “The intention was to demonstrate what the MakerBot is capable of – alongside the application of painting and finishing skills that are part of the course. Following the initial 3D printing, the surface of the model was given about 20 coats of surface filler fluid (available from Model Display Products). This dealt with the bulk of the ridges that occur during 3D printing. Following this, the model was given a spray coat of black acrylic primer. Acrylic paint was used to apply colour and tone, which was then finished with a thin layer of TestorsDullcoat matt varnish to remove the plastic looking sheen that acrylic normally leaves. Finally, a few thin layers of clear gloss varnish were applied to the figure’s armour and goggles.
“The components of the model were split into two separate sets of prints to localise any errors. However, one small misprint did occur during the second batch, although this was easily remedies and the finished piece has provided learners with a benchmark to aim for with their own work.”
Les Jones, Antalis National Consumer & Universities Account Manager, outlined the principal benefits of the fifth generation MakerBots: He said: “The MakerBot Replicator+ 3D printer is the easiest, most versatile way to get from a 3D CAD model to 3D print. Using fused deposition modeling, the printer combines substantial build volume with ease-of-use. The printer’s 100-micron layer resolution can create professional-quality, high-resolution prototypes and complex models for the classroom, business, design studio, architects’ office, or anywhere else people get creative.
“It has three connectivity options — USB, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet — which facilitate a seamless workflow. Cloud and app-enabled, the printer connects to MakerBot’s software options, including MakerBot Desktop, MakerBot Mobile, and Thingiverse, to provide a simple, effortless yet sophisticated 3D printing experience.
“Its smart extruder is easy to replace or swap, so when the filament runs out operators can minimise downtime and continue printing. It detects the absence of filament, automatically pauses the print process, and sends notifications to MakerBot Desktop and MakerBot Mobile. New filament is fitted and off it goes. Simplicity itself to set up, everything about the printer is designed to be user friendly, from its sleek good looks to its intuitive operating systems. Even its top mounted 3.5 inch, full colour LCD display is easy to read and got an enthusiastic thumbs-up from reviewers. Users can access their object library and see previews of their 3D model files, and an on-board camera automatically takes reference pictures of final prints and saves them to a cloud storage library. Operators can choose settings that range from fast draft to finer resolution, and it is recommended they always use MakerBot PLA Filament, the best, most consistent filament for the 3D Printer. Manufactured in the USA and tested in-house to ensure highest quality standards the filament is uniformly round to ensure that it will consistently flow through the extruder onto the build plate in smooth, even layers.”
Les Jones concluded: “The students in Cardiff are being introduced to, and inspired by, one of the most exciting, innovative technologies available to designers today. Who knows where their young minds might take them in the future? But, no matter what they can imagine, the MakerBot Replicator+ 3D Printer will always meet their needs.”