• http://twitter.com/Radiuscreatives Mike Willshaw

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    Impressive to see this sort of thing happening in a high school. With the growing need for more designers and engineers for our economic recovery it’s about time there was some investment (both in funding and in curriculum direction) at school level to inspire the next generation.
    External partnerships with industry like here really must be the way forward, but I guess this will be difficult to manage for most schools. So difficult with budgets being what they are to fund the equipment especially when results such as ‘inspiration’ are difficult to quantify.
    Maybe a government partnership with 3D printer/scanner/software companies to get this sort of technology into more schools should be made?

  • http://twitter.com/quigdes Kevin Quigley

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    A subject close to my heart! The capital budgets in UK state schools have been slashed this year (and from now on) – something like 1/5 the level they were before, so the budget for the D+T department of £1200 is not unusual.

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    The difficulty for a school – primary and secondary is twofold – being able to afford the justify the purchase to start with, and then being able to afford to run the machines. Unfortunately the running costs of even a desktop “pro” machine are too high for any school. This is an issue that printer manufacturers have to address (at the pro end).

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    For education, rep rap based products are by far the most commonly used (due to cost of purchase (kits), cost of materials (cheapish), and the open aspect showing the build process. But here’s the issue – you judge D+T on outcomes and to be frank, showing a pile of crude 3D prints at parents night or open days isn’t that impressive.

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    The question is, are you teaching D+T (how to design) or D+T (how to operate and tweak a 3D printer). In my experience most 3D printers in schools tend to come from personal interests of one of the teachers, so the tinkering aspect comes greatly into play. However for showing the design you really need a push button 3D print machine – after all, you don’t worry about a 2D printer do you?

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    Another observation. Across the UK there are showrooms of 3D Printer companies full of state of the art kit….sitting unused. I was at a major UK technology supply company to the education market last week, where there were 3 3D printers on show – Bytes to Bytes, Projet and ZCorp. The Project and Bytes to Bytes were printing – because I was there. So here’s a radical thought printer sales companies. Stick your demo machines into a local school, with the agreement you have access to show customers. If those customers are in education they can see the machines in situ. Win win for all. After a term, move it to another school etc. In a town like Shrewsbury, with 5 secondary schools, that’s a 2 academic year cycle.

    3D printer makers – you supply these demo sites with free materials. Put your money where your mouth is. If you want the future to be as rosy as you predict, prove it.