While more schools than ever are bringing STEM and 3D printing education into the classroom, educators are often left to their own devices when it comes to developing their lesson plans and actually turning them into educational projects for their students. There are plenty of third party options out there for educators seeking curricula, but many of those are specific to individual 3D printers and don’t always do much more than teach students how to use specific 3D printers. There are also a lot of robotics and programming projects available, but many require expensive kits and end up being significant investments for schools that often don’t have the budget to spare. Additionally, many motivated teachers may not have as much experience with the technology as many of those projects may require, which lowers the number of educational products available to them.
But as more people explore emerging technology like 3D printing, programming and robotics, there have been a few companies that are starting to produce affordable and simpler options that are starting to fill that niche. A UK-based startup called LAYKANICS is offering a collection of mechanical engineering, 3D printing and programming projects that have been designed to be easy to jump into and most importantly fun to work on, even for people new to these types of projects. The projects are available online for members, and use parts sourced from the Basic LAYKANICS Kit that contain everything needed to complete the project.
Each of the LAYKANICS projects focuses on learning a specific mechanical principle or is designed to introduce users to a new technology. They are intended to be fun and encourage users to take what they learn and apply those principles to their own educational projects and inventions. The projects contain a full set of technical drawings, project instructions, STL files for the 3D printed components and a list of all of the electronic parts and hardware needed to finish the project. The electronic parts and hardware are all included in the Basic Kit, which includes things like miniature electrical motors, solar panels, bolts, nuts, rubber seals, wheels or steel axles. All of the parts come with full technical specs so users can understand how each part works and easily apply that knowledge to their own projects. The projects were designed with STEM education in mind by former MIT students and professional engineers like company founder Alfonso Villanueva.
“LAYKANICS really emerged as the product of a passionate career in engineering and the undeniable need to revamp interest in the younger generations for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. I’m an Aerospace Engineer who graduated from MIT, 2006. I started my career as an compressor design engineer working for Rolls-Royce in Mount Vernon OH. Then I transferred to the UK to further my career in aerospace by working for Aircraft Engine Manufacturer Rolls-Royce (Derby, UK). I’ve always thought, that fruitful career in Engineering must be pursued from a design angle. When sharing my experiences with former lab mates at MIT with whom I keep in touch, the idea for a start-up that would promote design by taking advantage of FDM came up,” Villanueva explained via email.
Currently LAYKANICS has about seven projects available, however they are working on more projects all the time and will be adding them regularly. They are offering their STRIDR water-running boat project for free, and it doesn’t require any mechanical or electronic components. All of the parts are easily sourced and the rest of them are fully-3D printable. The project was designed to explain the concept of using compressed air as a source of propulsion. The educational materials include a full write up of the physics involved with making the boat work, as well as complete assembly instructions and a detailed overview of the project.
LAYKANICS is a paid membership service and individual kits do need to be purchased, but the prices are reasonable and users are getting a lot of bang for their buck. A monthly recurring membership costs £28.50 (about $37) when you sign up and then will renew for only £4.95 ($6.50) each month. They also offer a great bargain for a yearly subscription at £49.95 ($65), which saves almost 40% off of the monthly fee. The subscription includes your first kit and allows you to access all of the projects and educational material that they have available. It also offers you the option to purchase additional kits and components. Each of the projects will include a list of the components from your kit will be needed and offer advice on the best was to 3D print the other parts. LAYKANICS will ship kits all over the world, however because they are based in the UK anyone outside of the EU may have to pay import duties or fees. You can learn more over on the LAYKANICS website. Discuss further over in the Laykanics 3D Printing Projects forum at 3DPB.com.