Sheldon College in Brisbane, Queensland, recently created a state of the art educational facility for its students and introduced a 3D printing program. The aim is to help their students succeed in a changing world and to become creative thinkers and innovators with a strong business model application. The college has over 1200 students and about 80 students are directly involved with 3D printing.
The school introduced 3D printing for the engineering and CAD design study areas. CAD programs and Stratasys Mojo 3D printers are now used from Year 7 to Year 12. 3D printing of customised and complex shapes with integrated parts is now normal practice for student projects. Students can reproduce a complex mechanism and understand its iteration history and propose different design solutions.
Teachers were looking for a more cost effective 3D printing solution.
Sheldon College’s research into professional 3D printers was the result of frustration with cheaper 3D printing technologies. Nick Gates, who led the 3D printing program at the school, explained “It was costing the school more time and effort in terms of teacher resources by using cheaper hobbyist /desktop 3D printers. They were concerned about the sub-standard reliability and quality of finishes of the printed objects. The hobbyist 3D printers were also restricting the design options the students could create as they were limited on the range of objects that could be printed and materials used for 3D printing”.
The other challenge was to make sure that 3D printing was reliable and consistent given the high volume of objects printed for students. With 20-28 students per design class and four to five classes per day, 3D printing taking 1-3 hours depending on complexity. This placed high demands on teacher and machine. While running each day for 10 months of the year, the hours spent on 3D printed objects added up.
Nick Gates, 3D application specialist in education at 3D Fruition said “The amount of calibration, cleaning, tuning, printer filament exchanges, model preparation all required considerable effort and time. This led to further inefficiencies by teachers and students. This was a serious consideration when developing a 3D fabrication lab for a school environment where student autonomy in design and manufacture is ideal. Superior performance of 3D printers was needed to provide both staff and students the opportunity to experience the design process to its fullest. In order to develop the program further a commitment to purchase professional grade was made and the journey began”.
“The reliability and the consistency of Stratasys 3D printing has brought life back into the CAD/Engineering programs. A much clearer vision was established on how additive manufacturing fitted into their curriculum”, said Nick.
The Uprint and Mojo colour and material range were critical in Sheldon’s decision.
Sheldon College chose Stratatsys FDM technology due to several factors. Firstly the colour and the material range of the Uprint and the Mojo. They also liked the window so the students could see the object while it is being printed. The soluble/dissolvable support structure available with Stratasys technology was critical for the complexity of senior students’ work and allowed for greater creativity in their modelling. They also wanted to deal with Stratasys who has a history of refining the technology from the 1980s.
Nick Gates said, “Tasman Machinery offered hands on demonstration with the software and technology. I was personally touched with their sales and technical staff and have been regularly updated on new innovations, tricks and tips and new developments on how to achieve the best results”.
Students were able to experiment with ABS material in their prototypes
Nick said “Stratasys technology provided unprecedented reliability and precision and incredible ease of use. It increased numbers involved in taking design and engineering courses and captured new audiences, like art teachers and librarians. Post-processing finishing has been cut down significantly”.
Clearance, materials knowledge and scale were factors the students needed to consider in order to achieve a functioning prototype. So when a student began testing the ABS material, he discovered the specifications of a machined Tri-Cone drill weren’t the correct values to use when designing the prototype. This was an excellent journey of discovery by the student who learned a critical step in becoming an engineer. Nick encourages failure through design in his courses as it reflects the true nature of product design cycles.
Nick feels 3D printing continues to play a significant role in providing students opportunities to be autonomous in a design and fabrication environment. Providing the advantage of learning though failure is a magnificent opportunity for students, particularly in engineering studies. He said “To fail in a design process through a rapid design development cost very little in both time and resources. Previous to 3D printing, complex integrated multi-material part designs required weeks of machining, testing and analysis. This left little, to no room, for iteration and re-construction of the design. Now this process is completed in a matter of hours, allowing the student to further advance their design skills through more complex design challenges. What other tool in the history of manufacture education has allowed students to ideate, create, manipulate, iterate and re-create a functioning prototype in a matter of hours?”
With the evolution of 3D printing technology, Tasman Machinery has become one of the leading suppliers of Stratasys 3D printers in the education sector in Australia and New Zealand. Stratasys offers the world’s most advanced 3D printing solutions for educators and students. With Stratasys 3D printers, students gain a key advantage as it gives them a tool so powerful they’ll forget they’re learning. It helps students connect ideas, collaborate and apply knowledge faster. It also gives them easy to use and clean technology that seamlessly integrates into their curriculum. For more information, go to www.tasman3d.com.au