RepRap v.2 'Mendel' open-source FDM 3D printer

By CharlesC [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons


Are you thinking about a 3D printer for your Design Technology department – as we are at our school and have for a while. But were always unsure if the investment was too much. So to begin with we tested the water by buying one of the Open Source RepRap versions available that are very cheap and cost effective and at least give students an insight to the world of 3D printing. There is a great video at the BBC here – showing one version of the RepRap in action and also see one of the machines printing a chess piece below –


However the Open Source versions do have their limitations in terms of accuracy – so we have been looking for a while for a version which was much more accurate and would really get students in 3D rapid prototyping that would effectively help them when looking at the CAD/CAM option for their studies. Once a budget had been decided  – and yes you will need to persuade your school for the many good educational reasons for purchase – we looked at a number of printers mostly the Dimension/HP printers which have been the most popular and also at the new boys to the table – Objet. Once you have seen an Objet in action then really the decision is an easy one –


However do not take my word for it – head over to the following comparison site for a great table to help you decide – 3D Printing Comparison. Over the next academic year I hope to be able to show some of the ways we will use our Objet 3D printer with our IB students – but it would be really interesting to hear from other IB teachers whether they think spending so much money on one technology is useful or simply a waste for IB students education? Do any of you have favourite 3D printing projects? Remember to check out Thingiverse for a multitude of free CAD files and projects to download and try.

However do remember that to get students involved in 3D printing you do not need to even involve yourselves in buying a printer just head over to Shapeways upload your CAD file and they will print and deliver.