Friday, August 19, 2016

Tools for 3D Printing in the Classroom

Many of the times I read about "What You Need" for 3D printing, and websites list tools and gadgets that add $100's to the price of an already expensive printer.  I run the only 3D design AND printing class in San Diego for middle school kids (5th year now).  We break a lot of things and need to fix them, and I don't trust them with $80 pliers.  So below I have what we absolutely need, and it costs about $20.

Clockwise from the left corner:

Flat Paint Scraper : ($1.99) It is already super thin, but e sand the edge down to make it super thin and sharp.  No need for a $20 "part remover", this thing takes kids banging on it, and never had to replace it.

Metric Angle Set ($4.99) : Everything on 3D printers is metric, and some are at funny angles.  You need these.

Needle Nose Pliers ($0.99) : For grabbing filament stuck in an extruder, or BREAKING OFF SUPPORTS!!!

Razor Blade ($4.99 for 100, or $0.04 ea) : For fine detial work, or scraping off a build plate.

Tooth Brush ($FREE): Take an old one.  Used to clean off the extruder gears (hobbed bolt) when there is a filament jam, which is all the time when letting kids change filament.

Reamer ($2.99)  : For expanding holes that were printed with no tolerances, this makes quick work to make them bigger.

Set of NICE Ball Hex End Sockets [1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4mm] : ($4-$8 Each): So handy, and a bit more than the angle hex keys above them, but they are so nice, and they are rubber, and so nice to hold, and faster many times than the keys, and so nice....

Adjustable Wrench ($4.99) : For removing hot ends.  Works most of the time.  A 7mm wrench is also good, but this works for 90% of the things you need to do.

For the day to day use, there are specifics recommended by different suppliers.  Here is what I have found to be as good or better.  
Super Lube ($10.04) : This is what Makerbot send you in a little clear tube.  This is the big version.  It has lasted me 2 years for four machines used all day every day.  It should last you forever.  A little dab will do ya'.

Aqua Net ($2.99 at CVS) : Many people swear by their ABS slurry, or glue stick, or blue tape, or kapton.  If your machine is leveled correctly, this is by far the cheapest and best stuff.  A can lasts two machines an entire year.  Way cheaper than blue tape or kapton, and cleaner than glue sticks, and not as specific or carcinogenic as a slurry.  Extra Super Hold of course.

Spare Nuts and Bolts:  OK, so you may not need this many, but when kids start taking apart printers, they have to keep track of parts.  Then they start losing parts.  Then you get mad.  Then everyone gets mad because the printer does not work because it is missing a nut. Then you save the day with your spare set you have.  I but every bolt from 5mm to 40mm in 3 and 4mm sizes (m3x5 - m4x40).  It has saved many headaches.

DVOM : When you really want to diagnose stuff, you need this.  If you don't know what it does, don't worry, don't buy it.

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