Editor's Note: This is a guest post by Michael Oakley. Michael works for Autodesk and believes in the value of learning 3D design and printing in the education of his daughters and their schoolmates. This is the story of their experiences in getting started with the Cube3. And, yes. I AM easily bribed with Cuban Food. So, I hope to hear from Michael concerning Visitation Academy's progress with the the Cube3.
With all the 3D printing hype and attention, as a dad I
wanted to get my daughters school involved with 3D printing.
The school is Visitation Academy in Frederick Maryland. It’s
an all girls school Pre K 4 thru 8th grade, founded in 1846.
This year the schools leadership decided to develop a STEM
program and start developing plans for a STEM lab.
My first thought was lets get some software for the computer
lab. I work for Autodesk and was able to provide free software for the
school. Autodesk is currently offering
free software for schools, faculty and students. Here is a link if your school
or students are interested.
I then wanted to get a 3D printer for the STEM lab. Let me
tell you this was not an easy process to find a printer that was Kid friendly,
safe, and easy to use. I had access to many 3D printers at Autodesk so I was
lucky enough to try them out for myself before deciding.
During my testing I had success, and failures. This was the
start of the roller coaster ride. Every step of the way I asked myself 2
questions. Can a teacher figure this out, and how good is the customer support.
I decided on the Cube 3 from 3D systems.
Kid friendly, easy to use. This was a new printer, so we
were taking a chance because a lot of data was not yet available about the
quality and reliability of this new printer.
At last the printer arrived, unboxed it setup it up, and
successfully printed several parts. The
school participated in the White House 3D printed ornament contest, they did
not get selected but the girls had fun designing the ornament.
I decided to 3D print it. Success!! We had 2 designs, here
are the 2 designs.
We installed the printer at the school, helped the
technology teacher learn how to use it, ran some prints, the girls were very
A week later I received a call, the printer won’t
print. We determined that we had a clog
in the cartridge head. A call to 3D systems confirmed this, I have to say I was
worried at this point. The material cartridges are a bit pricey, but 3D systems
provided great service and immediately sent a new cartridge to replace the old.
The new cartridge clogged as well. I did some online
research and saw others were having the same issues, 3D systems sent a new
Then I found this blog CubifyFans. I sent an email to Tom
Meeks and he responded quickly and encouraged me to not give up. 3D systems
were aware of the problems and were working hard to correct them. Tom and I
spent countless hours talking and problem solving.
I noticed Tom lived in Maryland so I invited him to the
school. I can’t tell you how lucky we were to have him close by, he gave us
tips and tricks to improve success.
It was a great day having him available and volunteering his
time to help us.
3D systems was also putting out new firmware and software
updates to correct the clogging.
We have definitely seen a huge improvement in the clogging
issue, although we don’t print everyday like Tom I'm convinced that 3D systems
will continue to provide updates and improvements.
During my research of printers I heard so many horror
stories about customer service from other companies. “No call backs” , “No Phone number for Support”. This was not
my experience with 3D systems. A simple email to support through their web site
or a phone call will get you want you need.
The print quality is great, and I would recommend this
printer for schools and home use.
So we are now cruising and on a steady path. This year was a
learning process for the school, but next year we expect the 3D printer to be
well entrenched into the curriculum. Will we be problem free? I doubt it. But, I
know we are not alone and we have great help from Tom (As long as I can bribe
him with Cuban food) and from 3D systems.
Other things printed:
|Visitation Academy - Student Work #1|
|Visitation Academy - Student Work #2|
|Visitation Academy - Student Work #3|
|Visitation Academy - Student Work #4|