Getting the 3D Print Lab running

Having had the MiniFactory 3D printer for a little over a year now, I have been very satisfied with it. It has lots of power, it can build quality prints, and it has just the right amount of the frontier spirit, that hack lab feeling to it. I have been able to produce just about every piece I have come to think about, and having stripped the machine a couple of times to the frame, I feel confident with it and can maintain it well enough. Now, Haaga-Helia bought two more, and here’s a video of one of them in operation.

The door sign

The door sign

The idea is that now, with 3 printers, I can build a lab and run proper classes in it. At Haaga-Helia, we have intensive week five times a year. My idea is to have fifteen people per class, who have passed the Blender basic course and can design meshes with it. These people need only a little brush-up and specifics in Blender, and then they can form teams of five to use a printer. If we keep the designs somewhat small, all of them will have an opportunity to print a couple of designs during the week and contribute whenever someone else is using the printer.

The three printers at Pasila Campus

The three printers at Pasila Campus

When a student has passed the printing course, I believe he/she should get a virtual key to the classroom so they could use it on their own. Minifactory is a sturdy little thing, and it needs little maintenance. All the necessary moves will be handled during the course anyway, so I think I should be able just to oversee the operation. My big idea is to involve the robotics lab too, and join these two new business lines together in the lab. Then, when one designs something cool for the Arduino robots we already have on the curriculum, they could print whatever parts their robot project needs, be it boxes, arms, gears, holders… the sky’s the limit.

The printer attached to a PC

The printer attached to a PC

I was handed a space in the basement at the Pasila campus for this project. It’s nice, because the printers do cause some slight noise and smell, and I don’t want to be a bother. There are eight more machines in the room, which means people can use Blender in the room while the printer is busy, then upload their print-ready STL files in Moodle where I have a course open, and then just pop them into a free printer. Now as the three printers are all installed, one (the old one) is printing fine and the two new ones calibrated but not broken in, I need to get the two online and then organize a faculty workshop. It is necessary to share the information on the printers with other faculty members so they can also consider the benefits of 3D printing in their courses.

First print at Pasila Campus

First print at Pasila Campus

This is the first piece I printed on the old machine I moved in from the Malmi Campus. I guess you can figure out what the other two printers will be called.


About heikkihietala

Heikki Hietala has worked at the crossroads of IT and language since 1986. He studied at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. With an M.A. in English Philology and minor degrees in Communication and Information Technology, he has seen action at Microsoft, McKinsey & Company, Lionbridge, Bates Advertising and since September 2003, HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences. His interests of late have been user interface design and usability, 3D Design using Blender, and information technology for the small and medium enterprises. In his spare time he writes fiction in English. His novel, "Tulagi Hotel", was published in 2010 and a short story collection, "Filtered Light and Other Stories", in 2012. Tulagi Hotel is now available in Kindle and in paperback (also at Akateeminen Kirjakauppa), published by Fingerpress UK. "Hotelli Tulagi" on saatavana myös suomeksi kirjakaupoista kautta maan.
Video | This entry was posted in 3D printing, Blender, Haaga-Helia, Minifactory. Bookmark the permalink.

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