Do-it-Yourself 3D Printing

On the last day of our 2D/3D camp we introduce our glue gun activity, which is an interpretation of manual 3D printing. Earlier in the week the students learned how to create shapes and objects using Tinkercad. We brought in our Makerbot 3D printer to show the class how the objects they are designing can be printed. As Leah wrote about last week, the Makerbot heats up a plastic filament until it becomes malleable enough to form the design layer by layer. The glue gun can be used in a similar fashion. The gun controls the extrusion of the liquid glue so that an object can be built out of glue using cross sections. In our class we use multiple fans so that the glue will dry quickly in order to be able to build up each layer. The Makerbot also uses a fan to make sure the plastic filament dries quickly enough for each layer of hot plastic to form on top of each other.

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Each student receives a 3”x3” piece of clear acrylic, a low-temp glue gun, and four colored glue sticks. The goal is to slowly pour an outline of a shape onto the acrylic and with the help of the fans, build up the shape.  Some students were very methodical, patiently waiting for each layer to dry, creating cubes and tall organic structures. Other students embraced the chaotic look of pouring the hot glue continuously in order to form a tower of scribbled glue. The objects created vary greatly, from volcanoes, nests, igloos, cats, a wizard, and simply abstract shapes.

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At the office we explored this activity ourselves. Frances experimented using two planes of glue protrusion on her object. She built up a tree trunk and then turned it to its side and built up the branches at a different angle. If patient students are willing, we would like to push their boundaries and see if more students can build more complicated objects in future camps.


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