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FireGryphon
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3D printer for my school

Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:46 am

I teach in an elementary school and the school wants to acquire a 3D printer. This opens up lots of cool opportunities for projects and explorations that my kids can do. I need some recommendations given the following criteria:

— The unit should be durable and require a minimum of maintenance.
— The more involves the kids can be in the building, operation, and maintenance of the unit, the better. My 4th and 5th graders can solder and use other construction tools and I’m happy to teach them more skills if required to build and maintain the unit.
— I’m prepared for the price to be somewhere in the $1,000 range. Is that realistic?
— I have no preference for size, having no frame of reference for how useful it will be to have a smaller or larger printer.

What should we buy? What other criteria should I consider? Thank you for your input!
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drfish
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Re: 3D printer for my school

Fri Nov 30, 2018 10:46 am

SecretSquirrel has a great thread going about the Prusa i3 MK3. That would certainly be my pick, both as a workhouse printer and as an educational tool. It's what I want for myself, but I haven't gotten to it yet. The instructions are pretty awesome.

Also, 4th and 5th graders soldering in school? Sweet! :)
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Re: 3D printer for my school

Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:00 am

I'd go with a pre-assembled one first. Maybe get a kit for the 2nd.
 
Chuckaluphagus
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Re: 3D printer for my school

Fri Nov 30, 2018 10:37 pm

drfish wrote:
SecretSquirrel has a great thread going about the Prusa i3 MK3. That would certainly be my pick, both as a workhouse printer and as an educational tool. It's what I want for myself, but I haven't gotten to it yet. The instructions are pretty awesome.

I commented in SecretSquirrel's thread as well, and I'll reiterate here: I definitely recommend a Prusa i3 MK3. Assembling the kit will be an excellent project, although no soldering is involved. Read through fish's link to the assembly instructions to get a feel for whether it would be suitable for your class.

And, given that you're dealing with young kids, maybe consider putting some transparent panels around the printer so that no one bumps a hot nozzle. :)
 
FireGryphon
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Re: 3D printer for my school

Sat Dec 01, 2018 7:06 pm

After reading through that thread it seems as though making the printer do what you want is a full time project. This isn't promising at all... sheesh...
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Chuckaluphagus
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Re: 3D printer for my school

Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:54 pm

FireGryphon wrote:
After reading through that thread it seems as though making the printer do what you want is a full time project. This isn't promising at all... sheesh...

I have not had that experience at all. I have modeled very little myself, but I've downloaded a good hundred or so models off Thingiverse and elsewhere, and printed fifty or sixty things ranging from tiny plastic washers that take three minutes to intricate print-in-place mechanical toys that take hours. Assuming that the model is well-designed (not always the case, and something you'll learn to recognize this better with practice), the Prusa MK3 normally just works: it puts out a good quality print, and it does so consistently, so that the fifth time you print the thing will be just as good as the first time.

I'm running a stock Prusa MK3 as built from the kit delivered to me in June of 2018. SecretSquirrel had concerns about the power supply and the print bed, and chose to make some significant modifications. He's also looking to print some significantly larger, longer-duration prints than I've tried (my longest has been seven hours). I haven't made any such changes, and I couldn't be more pleased with the manufacturing quality of the printer.

I genuinely recommend the MK3 as a printer for people who want to print things, not tweak a printer.
 
NovusBogus
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Re: 3D printer for my school

Sun Dec 02, 2018 3:10 am

The Prusa mk3 is a good choice, but as noted it will still involve some adjustments and calibration. True 'just works' printers do exist, but they're very expensive (ours start at $10k) and intended for well financed institutions, job shops, and R&D outfits where time equals money. On the whole though, if you stick with mostly smaller parts and standard materials like PLA you should be fine.

The other thing you need to consider when buying for a school is that no enclosure equals safety risks. You personally may not care, but parents, administrators, and insurers are known to go nuts over that sort of thing. You can build your own if desired; many hardware hackers are quite fond of turning a cheap Ikea end table into a plastic box.

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