In response to the ongoing requirement for students to be able to study at home during the pandemic. CREATE Education partners PrintLab accelerated the development of their new student portal, providing a platform suitable for learning in school (especially where there is limited access to workshops) and for individuals and groups studying whilst isolating at home.
The new, improved PrintLab Classroom is an online 3D design project platform containing over 45 projects and online courses to develop 3D modelling skills. Their approach is to take inspiration from the innovative uses of 3D printing in industry and bring these through to education. The curriculum is particularly suited to the various UK wide Design and Technology curriculums. It challenges students to design assistive technology, reusable packaging prototypes, sustainable products, hands-free virus solutions and more.
One of the benefits of PrintLab classroom is that in addition to the lesson plans, presentations and student workbooks for each project, there are project explainer videos to introduce students to the project and allow them to get started independently. There are also step-by-step video tutorials (for both Tinkercad and Fusion 360 software) that help students to learn the software and then use it to develop their designs.
PrintLab Classroom is available as an annual subscription which provides access to all of the 45 projects and courses, the teacher CPD resources and all the new projects that are released during the year. However, they have also made a number of their resources and projects available completely free of charge. These resources are outlined below:
In this creative project, students design solutions to limit the spread of viruses such as Covid-19 on surfaces. The lesson begins with an animation explainer video about virus transmission on surfaces. Students then explore an innovative solution called Armie (by Print City at Manchester Metropolitan University) – a hands-free handle design that promotes the user to use their arm to open doors and drawers, limiting the spread of infectious droplets onto fingertips. By following tutorials to design and improve Armie for their classroom handles, students will be equipped with the foundational knowledge and skills to make their own unique solutions through a process of research, simulation, design, testing and iteration.
Assistive Device Academy
The project begins with students learning about affordable, open source assistive technologies through a case study video and example models 3D printed by the teacher prior to the lesson. Following the overview, students participate in a range of skill-building CAD tutorials to design several example devices – providing them with the necessary skills to design their own unique products.
In the main part of the project, students working in teams or individually are guided by design instructions to develop an assistive device for a real user. The design journey involves human-centred design principles, whereby an individual user is identified before concepts are developed to solve the daily challenges of the user. Finally, ideas are developed in CAD software which allows them to be 3D printed and presented to the rest of the class and the end user.
The Make:able Challenge
make:able is a free 3D printing and assistive technology design challenge for schools. The brief for this year’s make:able challenge is to use Autodesk software (Tinkercad or Fusion 360) in conjunction with 3D printing to ‘Design and make a product or prototype that improves the day-to-day life of someone who struggles with mobility in their hands’. Going beyond a competition, make:able centres around an online challenge toolkit for students, together with a teacher’s guide and lesson plans for educators.