There seems to be no doubt anymore about the benefits of teaching students about advanced technology such as 3D printing. Finding ways to integrate it into the curriculum is getting easier as the recognition of the vast number of relatively simple projects that touch nearly every aspect of daily life continues to expand. Whether 3D printing prosthetics for other kids or 3D printing miniatures, students as young as middle school are finding that they can develop a fluency in 3D that will support more complex and sophisticated projects as they get older.
With this in mind, Chris Halliday, lover of tinkering and technology, has developed two complete projects designed to be integrated into a school’s curriculum. These projects kill two birds with one stone (no animals were harmed in the making of these projects). They aim to teach students about the ins and outs of 3D printing through giving them a hands-on experience, and they also teach students about the way that cars work and how they can interact with those machines. The projects are for the creation of a 3D printed alternator and for a 3D printed brake caliper. Both come with a complete set of lesson plans to help teachers integrate the projects into their classrooms and are available for free through Thingiverse.
I recently caught up with Halliday and had the chance to hear a bit about the how and why of these projects.
Can you tell me a little bit about who you are and how you came to be interested in producing these kinds of projects?
“Educational wise I am a proud graduate of Grade 12. I never moved on to higher education and particularly enjoy the challenge of self-teaching myself almost everything I know. I am self-employed in a manufacturing business, building all aluminum trailers that tow behind motorcycles for adventure camping among other things. When I’m not working, designing or printing I am usually out wrenching on the truck or out in the woods exploring or camping.”
What do you see as the advantages to these projects in terms of gaining student interest in 3D printing and teaching them about how to use the technology?
“When I designed these projects, my thoughts were to reach out to youth interested in automotive or interested in learning more about automotive with 3D printing. I think it’s tough, or nearly impossible, to have a single project that can appeal to everybody and so I focused on something I enjoy very much with the hopes of sparking some people’s interest. My intentions were to draw students in and encourage them to 3D print their own Brake Caliper/Alternator projects as a start to 3D printing. I want this to create an entry into their next design/print, which I hope would be their own design or reverse engineering project.”
Is there a benefit specifically to undertaking automotive projects in terms of 3D printing?
“Each design has its own benefits in 3D printing and I think automotive is powerful for designing upgrades, replacement parts as well as designing your own vehicle or subsystem of a vehicle. It is also a lead into the motorsports industry, if that’s something that interests them. 3D printing in the automotive industry is very powerful. It allows for rapid prototyping and in some cases the creation of end-use products. Since the beginning folks that have owned an automobile have been upgrading/tuning and adjusting their vehicles to suit their needs and their lifestyle, and being able to 3D print you new prototype or your end-use product made from a 3D printer is a very powerful means to that end.”
“I am still looking to develop more automotive and motorsports related projects in the future. This includes more vehicle parts printed life size, if possible, allowing for more educational projects. I also hope to develop a complete engine in the future, although I have yet to choose the platform I will use. I have many ideas in my head and, luckily, lots of time to figure them out. One of my motivations when designing and releasing a project is complexity. I like for my projects to be complex enought that there is a sense of accomplishment after a student has completed the project.”
What advice would you like to give this up and coming generation of 3D printing enthusiasts?
“3D Printers and CAD are very powerful and we need to harness their power and also push ourselves and step outside of our comfort zone so we can continuously learn and expand. Push yourself! Complex designs push your abilities and your 3D printer and unlock all-new capabilities in both. There is so much creativity that can come from CAD and 3D Printing. I am waiting for the day when youth that use 3D printers early in their education trump us with creativity and print difficulty.”
Each of the projects was designed using Autodesk Fusion 360 and are suitable for FDM, SLA, and SLS 3D printing. The tutorials include both a detailed video and extensive PDF that details each aspect of the project.
Discuss this article and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.[Images: Chris Halliday]