Norwich Hackspace was invited to take part in February Maker Month at the Forum in Norwich. The Forum is a public building in the centre of Norwich which houses the Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library, the busiest public library in the country plus the regional headquarters of the BBC, a Pizza Express, Tourist Information Centre and the Forum digital gallery and auditorium.

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The building is run by the Forum Trust who also organise events in the huge main space of the building – the Atrium (although there are no trees!). Maker Month was a whole month of different kinds of making and week 4 was Print and Paper.

Our companions for Print and Paper were the amazing Print to the People who have mobile screen-printing facilities – their mission is to make screen printing available to everyone.

We were also accompanied by an Albion press from the Jarrold Print Museum and Norwich Hackspace took the Ultimaker 2 3D Printer to show people the potential of 3D Printing.

By taking the printer to various events we have found that people are just curious to see it printing. Most people haven’t seen one in the flesh and don’t really understand how 3D Printing works so they just want to see how it works and talk to someone who can show the various parts and the process of taking a 3D drawing, covering it to GCode and then printing it into a real object.

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We set the printer up with a set of files to print Easter bunnies, Norwich Hackspace trolley coins and a small model of the Forum. These were all fairly quick prints so that people could see results. Members of Norwich Hackspace took turns to be there to demonstrate, for a whole week.

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We also had on display member Brian’s microscope and Dan’s robot car with a 3D printed chassis. Sensors enabled the robot to run round the floor avoiding obstacles.

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We were able to show people drawings from scratch made with OpenSCad, CURA and then the print process and the end result. People really enjoyed seeing the purpose of a 3D Print as most people just seem to talk about 3D Printing guns – which is what has been most publicised so it was great to be able to show practical applications and purposes that are more constructive such as 3D Printed hands, gifts and bespoke items. Brian’s microscope attachment would have cost over ÂŁ1500 had he bought one through conventional sources (it enables a camera to be attached to a microscope and then connected to a TV screen or computer monitor ).

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Through the week, hundreds of people came by to watch and ask questions about 3D Printing, many people seeing the potential for the first time.

Thanks to CREATE Education for the loan of the printer

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