After our BELS Business Meeting on Monday January 30th, we were joined by Doug Baldwin, Emerging Technology Librarian at the Piscatway Public Library & President of NJMakersDay, and Riad Twal of Seton Hall University’s Instructional Design department. 3D printing is an area that has been getting a lot of attention in the last few years, especially in schools where STEAM education has become an emphasis. We developed this session to support both our librarians who already have 3D printers in their media centers and those whose students may be working on print designs in the media center for later printing in the school’s Robotics Lab.
Doug began the session by introducing TinkerCAD, a design software program which makes building 3-Dimensional designs about as easy as creating a flyer in Microsoft Publisher. Each of our partner groups got online with TinkerCAD on their laptops following along as Doug pointed out all the tools and functions used to create simple structures for printing. Riad contributed valuable advice based on his experience overseeing Seton Hall’s 3D printing labs, such as how much filament a specific project might use and he brought along some sample prints as illustration. After the designs were complete in TinkerCAD, Doug demonstrated how to transfer them to Cura, a slicing program that enables the 3D printer to recognize the file instructions and make some specifications such as scaling down the image, specifying the print location, and if printer support rafters would be used. Doug brought with him the very affordable and transportable PrintrBot so that attendees could see a sample print in action. First Doug pointed out the different parts of a typical 3D printer and explained some of the troubleshooting steps that would be followed if something went wrong and then we saw how to set up the printer to create a 3D print (printer in action below).
Our presenters covered many helpful tips and pieces of advice from how much filament to invest in, price points to consider, and having students focus as much (or more) on the building process than in the model that gets printed. Our attendees felt a new level of comfort with the idea of 3D printing and some inspiration about what could be done with it.
Thank you to our presenters for contributing their knowledge and expertise with us! We hope to develop more sessions that bring more Making into our school library media centers so stay tuned for more info.