Kids discover 'wow' factor of 3D printer

01:54, Aug 13 2014
 3D printer
PRIMO PRINTER: The new 3D printer at Southwell School is holding students’ attention, including Lachlan Coleman, Alec Bryant and Shu Takahashi.

No tripod attachment for tablet?

No problem - if you've got a three dimensional printer.

At Southwell School the CubeX Duo pulls a crowd, but students are also using it to solve practical problems.

They've designed and printed parts to clip into a tripod and hold devices, and more creative items like rocket ships and bracelets.

For 12-year-old Shu Takahashi, a decorative pencil-holder is the favourite.

''I just drew the patterns on actual A4 paper and I took a photo and I converted it to this [digital] file.''Once it was in the CAD (computer-aided design) software it could be printed.


''When we didn't have a 3D printer you actually had to make one. Cut things, glue things. It took too long. Now you just put it on a USB stick,'' he said.

And the printing technology allowed Lachlan Coleman, 12, to kick his Minecraft addiction.He now spends far more time on CAD software his cousin loaded into his computer.

''Two weeks later I fell in love with the software,'' he said.

He can create separate components of his creations - which include a multi-part claw - then join them in assembly and see how it will move.

The printer had the ''wow factor'' and often drew a crowd of kids, technology and design teacher Kerry Williams said.

''We're trying to create fun in their learning, a bit of the wow factor in exposing them to cutting-edge technology. But at the same time... we want them to solve everyday life situations.''

The CubeX Duo had been at the school about a month, and Williams estimated it cost about US$3000.But it could save the school money too - for example in the case of the tripod attachments.

''To buy that in a shop that would cost us $45, so they can design and we can print for three.''

Printing could take about two hours.Printers currently ranged in price from under $1000 to about $500,000, Williams said, but he imagined prices would drop in the coming years.

Then the devices could become as common as inkjets.

''It's going to change the world in lots of different ways.''

Southwell acknowledged support from Fuji Xerox in the printer set-up process.

Waikato Times