MakerBot SKETCH Classroom Helps Educators Integrate 3D Printing into Schools

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After introducing its Method X manufacturing workstation in August, MakerBot is now launching another new system, which is part of what promises to be a very reliable classroom 3D printing setup. The new MakerBotSKETCH Classroom, which incorporates the company’s entire education ecosystem, will help students and educators access the resources and tools for 3D printing classroom success.

“With SKETCH, we are changing the way 3D printing is used in schools and advancing the possibilities of learning to boost student innovation,” said MakerBot CEO Nadav Goshen. “We believe that SKETCH Classroom is the best 3D printing setup for the classroom, with an ideal student-to-printer ratio, making 3D printing more accessible to students, and setting educators up for 3D printing success.”

Four years ago, the company announced a shift in focus from consumer to professional and educational 3D printing, and has been making good on this change with its MakerBot Educators and 3D printing certification program for teachers. MakerBot 3D printers are in over 7,000 schools across North America, and its comprehensive AM education ecosystem gives multitudes of educators the necessary tools and resources to adopt 3D printing curricula in their classrooms and teach their students skills that will be extremely useful in technology-heavy fields.

But in order to teach their students how to use a 3D printer, educators themselves need to learn, as well as successfully integrate the technology into lesson plans and properly manage classroom resources. The SKETCH Classroom is a comprehensive solution that includes what MakerBot calls “interactive certification courses,” which teach educators how to create and deploy curriculum, teach students critical thinking, design thinking, and problem solving with 3D printing, and, most importantly, how to use the MakerBot SKETCH 3D printer. The setup also teaches students how to use the printer.

SKETCH Classroom’s workflow solution offers a great, very accessible classroom setup, taking into account the often difficult, yet very important 3D printer-to-student ratio. Additionally, the SKETCH firmware and printer management software are both connected to the MakerBot Cloud platform and provide a range of 3D printing applications, such as management, print design, and preparation. Students can submit designs to the Cloud through their MakerBot account, and teachers are able to easily manage, queue, and monitor 3D print jobs. Because the platform is so easy to set up and use, teachers can spend more time focused on what’s really important – integrating 3D printing into their curricula.

The SKETCH 3D printer is UL-Certified, and spent over 46,000 hours being tested by MakerBot for print quality testing and system reliability. It has a build volume of 150 x 150 x 150 mm, a heated build plate, touchscreen controls and on-board camera, and also comes with an enclosed chamber and built-in particulate filter for safe classroom 3D printing. The printer is compatible with MakerBot’s PLA and Tough Materials.

Full integrations with MakerBot Cloud, as well as other features, will be coming at a later date.

However, while this all sounds well and good, there are some who aren’t quite enamored with the SKETCH. Joel Telling, the 3D Printing Nerd, seems less than impressed by this new setup, stating on Twitter that the new 3D printer looks rather…familiar.

 

If you look at some of the comments and other posts, other issues people had ranged from the price of the SKETCH and the small number of materials it’s compatible with to how cloud-based printers aren’t great for limited WiFi environments, i.e. schools. So, some in the community are taking MakerBot’s announcement with a grain of salt. At this point, it is unclear if the 3D printing community is just very skeptical about everything that Makerbot does because of past transgressions and we should give them more of a chance or if the skepticism is focussed on the product offering itself.

SKETCH Classroom comes with the following:

  • Two SKETCH 3D printers, each with 1 extra build plate, 1 snips, and 1 spatula
  • Ten student and two teacher licenses for ISTE-Certified MakerBot Certification programs
  • The MakerBot Cloud platform, which is integrated with top CAD design software like Autodesk Fusion 360, Onshape, and TinkerCad
  • Thingiverse Education, which offers access to more than 600 teacher-created 3D printing lesson plans for all subjects and grade levels
  • Support from MakerBot’s team of 3D printing experts

MakerBot’s SKETCH Classroom is on display for the first time at this week’s TCEA Convention & Exposition in Austin, Texas; visit the company at booth #2514 to learn more. The platform should begin shipping in North America on February 17, 2020, and will soon be available in other regions as well.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.

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