Colaiste Chill Mhantain is a school in co. Wicklow in Ireland. They were one of the lucky winners of Ultimaker’s Education Challenge. This is the start of a diary series of how the school came to win the printer and how they are putting it to good use. 

Written by Brian McVicar

Background to getting the printer

To say I have always been keen to get my hands on a 3D Printer is a bit of an understatement.

I first encountered  SLS (stereolitheographry) printer’s back in my college days. At the time I think they were around the same price as a small house.

I only had beginner experience of 3D modelling at the time, but even then I was acutely aware of how they could be used to instantly turn virtual designs into the reality of a physical object.

It was during a CPD day back in 2007 when our local education centre introduced us to the concept of using a binder machine to make replicas of geometric shapes used in the rollout of a revised Design Communication Graphics course.

As the years crept by and my schools facilities were upgraded, I was constantly on the lookout for the opportunity to acquire such technology.

I attended courses on rapid-prototyping where I was introduced to a whole new sharing community, not just of new ideas, but also of printer building and modification.

This looked great for the enthusiast but I knew a solid reliable machine would be what’s needed for a school environment. I had a few years experience with CNC lathes by this stage and was well aware of the wear and tear on machines in a school workshop.

I followed a number of Printer manufacturers via social media.

I was most impressed by Ultimaker’s focus on education in 3D printing, particularly the pioneer program which launched stateside last summer.

The Pioneer Program Journey

November 16th 2016

It was a Wednesday like any other. I woke to my daily ritual of scouring social and news sites to find the lie of the land with the world.

It was an article from Ultimaker on Social Media that morning that ended up in my saved folder.

Titled “Ultimaker Education Challenge: Win a 3D printer for your school” It was news I had been sub-consciously waiting for, The Ultimaker Pioneer Programme was being expanded across the Pond!

I was now about to find out how these elusive Pioneer Teachers in the US achieved their status:

“All you have to do is create a 3D print related project with your students….All projects must be submitted by December 31 2016” Hmmmph!

Prior to this, my ideas for 3D uses revolved around making collet adaptors of 3Jaw chucks and replacement hoover parts that got damaged. Hardly inspirational for the youth of the day!

Initially I thought wow, that’s short notice to come up with a design project from scratch, however a recent encounter later dawned on me!

A few students approached me with a fairly off the wall idea for a foldable shopping trolley!

…’It’s a pity we don’t have a 3D Printer’ were my exact words! The project had just been entered into a school Science competition but, despite achieving some recognition, failed to realise its true potential.

I made contact with the team leader and set about creating a proposal.

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