3D Design and 3D Printing
The key to success in learning new technology is to start simple, then build using those new skills. We don’t start with a huge complex 3D design model which looks awesome but is totally inappropriate learning tool. We start with a straight forward design that every child can master. We provide an optical mouse as part of the club the kids can take away at the end. Having learnt the basics using the right tools, they can then go on to create that huge complex model if they wish.
Phase 1 – Learning the basics (modules 1 – 8)
We use a class based learning environment online which allows all the children to achieve the same goal. This is broken into bite sized chunks. The aim of the first five modules is cement an understanding of the 3D design environment (CAD, Computer Aided Design), navigate their way around and use core tools and concepts to create something they can actually print. The children learn what is possible and what the limits might be, for example creating something too thin will snap when printed, and a large shape which uses lots of resin because it isn’t hollow will cost a lot of money! Everyone in the club creates and finalises an item they can print and call their own. We send those items off for printing and then there is a flurry of excitement when they return (cue large box!). The children see first hand the results of their work and take their 3D printed items home. Towards the end of this stage the kids have an introduction to an advanced cloud based software in order to see what production teams around the Globe are using right now.
Phase 2 – Let’s get professional (modules 8 – 10)
It is great to produce something simple and understand how that was created. Now it is time to use a more advanced software with some very powerful tools. The great thing is that many of the concepts and skills learnt in phase 1 are instantly transferable to phase 2. This step by step approach allows the kids to learn even more powerful software. Their toolbox of skills grows. In phase 2 they can pretty much create ANYTHING they want using the advanced software. That could be a model of the Millennium Falcon, a part for a jet engine, or a smart phone case. All it takes is time and accuracy. The time needed to create some of these items exceeds the time available in the club, but the children know where to find the software and are introduced on how to use it. It is totally free and has built in tutorials. We open the door and they step right through!
Of course, there are things coms4kids cannot teach in the time available, but our aim is to get everyone started, the rest is then up to them. It’s all out there… and it is totally free! They can continue their work after the club. One realisation in our commercial world is that even though the software and resource used to make items is free, the 3D printing costs money. However, the price is usually related to the size of the item and the choice of material, so nothing is hidden. You pay for what you get. Currently 3D printing works out to approximately £2 per cm cubed.
An IMPORTANT note on internet-safety
As part of this club, the children will use two main platforms, one of which is specifically targeted for use in Schools and Colleges. One platform has a community which shares designs and allows a certain level of interaction online. The other is a platform currently used by professional design teams around the world. If your child enrols for for the 3D Design and Printing club then you will receive a consent form covering Internet Safety. Your child’s account can be monitored by you and/or the teacher of the club. At coms4kids we take internet safety very seriously. Knowledge is power, and empowering our children to use the Internet safely is the key to minimising risks.