Aaron Winstanley, Design and Technology Lead at Bolton School Junior Boys (Park Road Junior School), recently took advantage of the CREATE Education 3D Printer Loan Scheme to try out the Raise E2 3D printer. As an existing 3D printer user, Aaron was keen to try out the IDEX (independent dual extruder) functionality that allows two print files to be printed at the same time to speed up the process of 3D printing the students work. In this guest blog post, Aaron shares his experiences and the projects he ran whilst trailing the Raise E2.
“Raise3D E2 was the perfect addition to our maker-space; simple to use and understand, fantastic quality, dual extrusion and fitted with all the required safety features that a school would need. Having already got two Dremel 3D40 flex machines at Park Road Junior School, we thought we had found the perfect model of machine, but then the Rasie3D E2 arrived.”
When un-packing the the Raise3D E2 machine I was pleasantly surprised that a machine with such a good reputation, and that would print with such good quality, was actually very easily set up. Without any fuss or confusion our Year 6 pupils were set up and printing files via USB in a matter of minutes.
In the box there was a range of tools, including tweezers to snap off support structures, heat proof gloves for handling the heated build plate safely and
much more. Raise3D really had thought of everything a teacher might need if using the E2 printer as the first printer they had experienced – make everything clear, simple and idiot proof.
When plugging the machine in and firing it up for the first time, there was a set of clear, step by step guides to follow, helping you to remove the safety travel catches, set the machine up, insert filament that had been provided, and get yourself printing, even if it was the demo/test prints that came stored on the hardware already!
With the printer set up and ready to roll I began to think about how I would push the machine to its limits and really test it out from an educational point of view. Sat here now, writing this review, I still haven’t found a print job that has even come close to pushing the machine over the edge. It has given me nothing but quality from start to finish.
The Raise3D E2 has been used non-stop for 8 weeks, printing small 30 minute prints, 35 hour prints, prints in one or two colours, and also printing using foreign filament. Year 3 loved to see the printer in action and were particularly inspired by the dual extrusion feature, allowing them to pick two colours, opposed to one, when working with the Dremel machine. Our pupils combined the use of the Rasie3D E2 and the Einscan – SE 3D scanner to mould their own scarab beetles, before scanning and printing a replica in plastic, just as they do in the British Museum.
Year 4 used TinkerCAD to design their own key rings, following an interaction with a TinkerCAD unit of work in their Design and Technology lessons.
Both projects needed a full year groups’ work printing in a small amount of time which was no problem for the E2. I was thoroughly impressed with not only the speed of prints, but also the accuracy of the estimated time that the slicing software provided. It really did help when trying to plan lessons and print times around different lessons.
Year 5 has been studying smart and modern materials, at the same time as inclusive design: certain pupils made moulds out of polymorph before scanning them and printing them with the E2, while others used thermochromic filament to produce a product that would change colour depending on its environment.
Year 6 has benefitted mainly from the large build plate that the E2 machines has (330mm x 240mm x 240mm) while mini green screen studios were created and used for stop motion animation film production.
Heated Build Plate
When teaching with the 3D Printers, it is important that the machine is reliable when left to print a large number of projects for a class and this was certainly no problem, but when it comes to larger sized resources I have often not been extremely happy with build plate adhesion, to get a reliable first time outcome. When working with the Raise3D E2 I have been very pleased with the heated build plate that has allowed me to easily print tall and thin resources without them falling and resulting in print failure. When slicing such objects the software has always prompted me to add further build plate adhesive structures, something I started off using, but recently have tested without. Even without the additional “raft” structures the build plate has not failed me, or my tall thin Sphero Bolt Bowling pins that have recently been used in our house competition. When finished printing, the build plate cools quickly, meaning rapid, but safe extraction of the prints is able to happen, even without the need for heat proof gloves.
When changing filament, or running out of filament, I have been happy with the ease with which material is changed. The guide tubes are easily unscrewed and removed if needs be, from both ends, and the print heads accept and remove filament well. My only criticism of this machine would be the filament run out sensor, that is positioned close to the reel of material, meaning that there is always a length of filament (still in the tube) when the machine notifies you that the reel is empty. This is a criticism as it means there is more waste than if the sensor was positioned on the print head unit. All that being said, I do really like the enclosed reel units on either side of the machine: they have their own doors keeping the area around the machine clear and tidy. (Very important in busy classrooms or dusty DT workshops) as well as smooth rollers to help the filament extrude without putting pressure on the print heads.
Being a 1-1 iPad, Apple Distinguished School, it has been my goal to find design, slicing and printing apps that the pupils can use to control the 3D Printers from their devices. Once I had found my feet with the printer and had plenty prints completed using USB, I decided to set up the RaiseCloud app for online printing. The linking of the app and the printer was easy and straight forward meaning that printing was quickly achieved. When rolling this out onto pupil devices it was a little confusing to set up the accounts, but once these had been done the rest was fine.
The app itself is user/child friendly, with large, clear icons and buttons. The notifications available helped pupils in Year 6 to keep an eye on the production of their green screen stands, even when at home, often prompting them to email me to tell me I had run out of green filament just before they went to bed!
The live camera/time lapse feature of the printer and app was also a great way for me to keep an eye on slippage from the build plate, or other potential problems when printing long weekend jobs. When realising there was a camera in the machine I had hoped to save some time lapse
footage to help with future lessons, but unfortunately I did not find out how to access the video once it had been taken.
Throughout the experience, the quality of every print was second to none. When slicing I used a range of different settings and profiles, but with all the options I mashed together the quality of print was always superior to the high standard set by the Dremel 3D40. When printing a range of complex curves, the auto support structures were effective, reliable and easily snapped off, leaving a high standard of print on top. I have had no problems or issues with the quality of any print that has finished successfully.
The Raise3D E2 printer, to me is the perfect printer for school use that is on the market at the moment. I would suggest that price wise and quality wise it is more than a starting machine and that primary schools looking to add 3D Printing into their Art, Design and Technology curriculum would probably want to spend less, but would be happy with a printer of lower quality. However, there is no reason why this printer can’t be used at
primary school level as this is what I have been doing over the past 8 weeks. Everything from Raise3D has been accurate, clear and child friendly.
In terms of secondary school Design and Technology departments, I would suggest that this machine is perfect. The printer is a large unit that prints with very little noise/disruption to a classroom. The machine and partnering software allow for excellent integration with modern devices and technology as well as reliable and high quality prints, perfect for GCSE and A-level coursework/prototyping projects.
The opportunities that this printer has allowed my pupils to access is much greater than any other 3D Printer has given them. As a teacher I have been confident to let pupils play and explore due to the robust nature of the machine and its structure, knowing that the quality of what they do produce will impress and inspire them to explore further. A year 3 pupil even compared it to magic! Rasie3D E2 is a perfect machine for helping to inspire pupils through the use of modern technology. I would recommend the E2 to anybody within education.
CREATE Education would like to thank Aaron Winstanley for sharing his Raise3D E2 review with us.