Getting Started with Ultimaker 3D Printers for Education: A STEM Teacher's Analysis
STEM Teacher and Drone Racing Coach Jackie Derr worked with Mara Hitner, MatterHackers Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, to introduce Ultimaker 3D Printers to her junior high school students through project-based learning curriculum.
Starting with dual extrusion on the Ultimaker S3 3D Printer and then adding a single extrusion Ultimaker 2+ Connect 3D Printer with the Air Manager to her classroom, Jackie went on to lead a live presentation with Mara Hitner to discuss her experience with the Ultimaker line of machines and to share some of the exciting learning projects her students have been able to accomplish through additive manufacturing. You can check out those free 3D Printing projects here!
We've compiled some of the key takeaways and insights from her assessment to share with other educators looking to get started with Ultimaker 3D Printers in schools and education makerspaces.
Deciding on a 3D Printer - Don't Be Intimidated!
When recalling her experience while choosing her 3D printer, Jackie describes her feelings before taking the leap and her worries about setting up and using the machine to begin with:
"I have been honored to be able to test out the Ultimaker 2+ Connect... I got the [Ultimaker] S3 first, and I have to admit I was very, very nervous to order it from MatterHackers!
I don't know why [...] but I still just couldn't do it, because I was worried, 'Well, how do I set it up? How do I -- It's a different printer than I've been using, and how am I going to get my prints set up?' Yada, yada, yada.
That was a mistake. I should have trusted Mara like I usually do and just ordered directly from MatterHackers, because setup is so easy!"
Unboxing and Setting up the 3D Printer - Quick and Easy
And when the Ultimaker 2+ Connect arrived, Jackie took the opportunity to record her experience unboxing and setting up the machine from start to finish. Watch the quick and easy process of going straight out of the box and ready to print with a fully assembled Ultimaker 3D printer:
Jackie offers a final word of advice regarding setup for the Ultimaker 2+ Connect: "I would recommend downloading the manual before you start setting it up, because the manual walks you step-by-step [...] and if you still have questions, I've called MatterHackers before and they say, 'Okay, let's walk you through it. We'll do this and do that,' and it works."
Advantages and Considerations
Having conquered the setup phase with ease, Jackie continued to put her new 3D printer to use. Looking back after having completed hands-on 3D printing projects and lessons with her students, she later reflected on the overall positive aspects she noted of Ultimaker 3D Printers, as well as important considerations worth mentioning.
"As I was putting this together, I was thinking, 'Okay, I want to list the positives about the printer.'
- Simple out-of-the box experience - 'It's easy to set up.'
- User-friendly experience - 'It's more user friendly than the other printers that I've used.'
- High quality prints - 'It's quality print jobs. You're not having things straggling off'
- Huge variety of materials - 'You can use such a variety of filament!'" and Mara adds, "You can progress from PLA to Tough PLA, to TPU and Flexibles, to carbon fiber and glass fiber, and these are all perfectly safe to use in the classroom as well."
"And in my mind," Jackie considers, "if you're going to list the positives then you have to list the negatives... [But] I didn't see any negatives! So I made decided to make a list of things to consider about the printer:
Things to Consider
- Removing support material from a print - 'With the 2+ Connect support pieces, you have to peel them off or clip them off, but the first four printers that I have had, I had to do that anyway. So I didn't know any better! One of the solutions is to have the students design items that don't need as much support [material] or any support if you angle [the model] a different way. And that could actually be a good challenge for them.'
- Single vs Dual Extrusion - 'I almost feel like I'm a printer brat now, because the S3 is a dual nozzle. And so, you can have the support [filament] so that when your item gets printed out, you just set that in a bowl of water and you let it dissolve. You come back the next day, and voila! Here it is."
- Price considerations - "I also look back on my experience of getting into 3D printing. I had a limited amount of money. I was looking at printers as -- I've got 120, 150 kids. How many printers can I get for my amount of money that I have? And so that means if it's the 2+ [Connect], I can get two of them, then I'm going for it!'
Jackie's final thoughts on her Ultimaker 3D Printers, "The setup, the print quality, the easy of use, the Cura software, it's all there!"
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