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Education Hardware Hacking Printer Build

A Makerbot In Every Classroom 152

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the now-do-it-with-a-reprap dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "At the start of this year, President Obama nicely summed up the grandiose promise of 3D printing — or rather, the hype surrounding it. In his State of the Union address the president suggested the fledgling technology could save manufacturing by ushering in a second industrial revolution. That shout-out inspired a spate of buzzkill blog posts pointing out — rightly enough — that despite its potential, 3D printing is still in its infancy. It's not the panacea for the struggling economy we want it to be, at least not yet. Apparently the naysayers weren't enough to kill the 3D-printing dream, because, with support from the federal government, MakerBot announced its initiative to put a 3D printer in every school in America. The tech startup and the administration are betting big that teaching kids 3D printing is teaching them the skills they'll need as tomorrow's engineers, designers, and inventors." Caveat: Makerbot no longer produces open hardware, and they are pushing proprietary Autodesk software and educational materials as part of the free 3D printer. Makerbot also launched a call for open models of math manipulatives on Thingiverse (you might remember them from elementary school) so that teachers have something useful to print immediately.
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A Makerbot In Every Classroom

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  • That President Obama liked — so much he wanted to print it in every school.
    • I cannot help but wonder when MakerBot can have an open source API to its product; I've little appitite for Autodesk, given today's CAM open source solutions.
      • Re:I didn't know (Score:4, Interesting)

        by RenderSeven (938535) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @02:59PM (#45415407)
        The API is the STL file format, which is pretty open. Just about any CAD program can generate one. Thats fed into either the Makerbot slicer or the open source Skeinforge slicer to generate the X3G files that get sent to the 'Bot. What do you want to do that needs more openness than that?
  • Unless it's the corporate type.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:13PM (#45414059)

    Makerbot isn't open. They want to sell locked in 3D printers.

    • What's worse is the locked in Autodesk software. There are good open 3d printers but good, open 3d CAD software is a little thin on the ground.
    • WTF is "locked in"? Or what is a "locked in printer" in general for that matter? I have one, I use it nearly every day, and if there is anything "locked in" Im completely missing it. I do use 123D Design for modeling, but also Sketchup and Solidworks and Ive tried others and they happily interoperate. I get PLA from China, aftermarket parts from eBay, and Makerbot even supports that. Their website [makerbot.com] even promotes open source 3d modeling software.
  • by hubang (692671) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:17PM (#45414103)
    I'd rather see a shop class in every decent sized high school in the US. Equipped with manual milling machines and lathes. WAY more useful.
    • Why not have a MakerBot, open sourced, also?
      • by hubang (692671)
        What do the kids learn by pressing "print?"
        • by Thud457 (234763) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:50PM (#45414575) Homepage Journal
          plastic penises [xkcd.com] in every classroom!

          crap, I posted a obXKCD link. I feel dirty now.
        • by jscotta44 (881299)

          They learn little by pressing "print". However, if the school is teaching students how to create the models and all of the prerequisites leading up to that, then they learn a lot. Advanced classes can expand on that by allowing students to create new object solutions to problems they see.

          Oh, and the schools can possibly increase the use of manipulative models in their classrooms by printing them instead of purchasing them from someone else. This also allows teachers to more innovative by modifying the manip

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        MakerBot is the bottom end of 3D printers. Like an EZ-Bake oven compared to a microwave oven. If such printers are the wave of the future then reasonable tools should be introduced instead, like printers that can create something that looks and feels like a real product that are at least within the ballpark of traditional shop tools.

    • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:26PM (#45414221)
      How about auto repair? I think it's a good place to start with mechanical skills because everybody owns a car, and knowing some basics will save you money even if you don't choose to do much yourself, let alone be employed in the field. It exposes you to mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic systems, and some actual motivation to fabricate or recondition parts in a subsequent shop class.
      • by hubang (692671)
        Auto shop is what got me into engineering!
      • Mod parent up!!!!

        This is so true. I can't count the number of friends that I have that have no idea how to change a flat, check oil levels, check tire pressure or even add windshield washer fluid, or even change a burned out tail-light bulb."

        Their response is always, "I'll call AAA, the tires don't look flat, that's what the oil changes are for..."

        • I can't count the number of friends that I have that have no idea how to change a flat, check oil levels, check tire pressure or even add windshield washer fluid, or even change a burned out tail-light bulb." Their response is always, "I'll call AAA, the tires don't look flat, that's what the oil changes are for..."

          When I asked my parents to sign an application for a learner's permit they told me they would be happy to do so after I demonstrated that I could check tire pressure, add air and change a tire; check and add oil, radiator fluid and wiper fluid. Later my Dad made me learn to drive a manual transmission. My regular car while learning was an automatic and I tested in this car but my Dad had me drive a manual a little bit too. He didn't recommend getting manual, he just thought I should know how to drive one ju

      • How about auto repair? I think it's a good place to start with mechanical skills because everybody owns a car, and knowing some basics will save you money even if you don't choose to do much yourself, let alone be employed in the field. It exposes you to mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic systems, and some actual motivation to fabricate or recondition parts in a subsequent shop class.

        I get the impression that that would be frowned up on as a deviation from the 'if something scary or unexpected happens, your dealer is your only hope' trajectory that vehicle manufacturers seem hellbent on going down.

        • by timeOday (582209)
          I see this all the time even on web boards.

          Q: "Do I really need to change my brake rotors with the pads? What's the allowable tolerance on the original thickness?"

          A: "Are you crazy! Your brakes are there to save your live, now you're going to skimp to save a few bucks!? Just take it in and quit endangering everybody!"

          • On the plus side, people still get to ask that question. We've gotten to the point where it would be relatively inexpensive to 'chip' many of the major FRUs, printer cartridge style, to allow the car to grab a timestamp(and if it has OnStar or an equivalent, it'll be a good timestamp) when a new part is installed, impose time or milage based expiration/replacement intervals, and reject 3rd party components that don't fully implement the authentication system... That would be fun.
            • There is now a sensor with a wireless link in each wheel hub in every new automobile. It measures tire air pressure and sends the status wirelessly to the car chassis computer. It spins round and round in the wheels. And it adds a significant amount to the cost of the car, and an even more significant amount to replacing the air stem in your car if it fails.

              Also, give me a fucking break.

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @02:36PM (#45415155)

        This entire initiative, as great as it is, ignores a small problem: We aren't raising our children to be builders, we're raising them to be consumers. Consumers have no initiative, and see no point in things like shop class, or building things... afterall, isn't that why we import indians and chinese?

        Also, as soon as some high school student builds a gun with the 3D printer, that'll go away.

        • by Reapy (688651)

          Nah. I've heard this argument since I was a kid. Sure we are consumers, we are also producers. It is easier than ever to make things. There is a guide or place to ask how to make ANYTHING on the internet. If I am motivated to make or fix something on my own, I have the guidance to start at it immediately.

          And in terms of building this online on our computers, there are more tools than ever out there. With unity I can make a game quite easily, and if I don't want that much detail I can get things like gamemak

          • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @03:45PM (#45415857)

            Nah. I've heard this argument since I was a kid.

            The reason it has been around so long, perhaps is an indicator it has merit.

            Sure we are consumers, we are also producers.

            Find me something within arm's reach that has Made In America on it. Chances are, there isn't one; And odds are very, very good, it won't be one of the first five things you grab.

            It is easier than ever to make things. There is a guide or place to ask how to make ANYTHING on the internet. If I am motivated to make or fix something on my own, I have the guidance to start at it immediately.

            I think I see a flaw in your cunning plan; You aren't motivated. You're just saying that if you were, then yeah, shit could happen. But it ain't happening... because you, like hundreds of millions of others, don't want to.

            Look, people are lazy, we have always been lazy, very few people are doing productive things with their time 24x7 outside of their jobs, if that. That is nothing new.

            Okay, hold on to that for a minute and then consider again the statement you're upset about: We're consumers, not builders.

            just because companies are trying to entice us with advertising doesn't mean we have guns to our head and have no choice in the matter.

            "guns to our head", phrase: It means "I am deeply conservative". Because really, you types are the only ones that ever think there's a gun to your head... and perhaps only a miniscule amount of guns have ever been put to the heads of anyone uttering this line. Basically, if you utter this phrase, I put you in the moron category and move on, because your arguments will invariably be bullshit propaganda, with a side of cognitive distortion, served on the silver platter of self-importance.

            Look... I just said we're creating a culture of consumers. That's why nobody wants to build anything; Instant gratification. Everybody's a winner. You can have it all! It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it. We're teaching our kids that you don't need to work hard to succeed -- you just need to open your mouth and let someone shove spoonfuls of product into it.

            • by toQDuj (806112)

              "The reason it has been around so long, perhaps is an indicator it has merit."
              No, that's an argumentum ad antiquitatem. Just because it is old does not mean it is good. The bible and its ideas are quite old and tenacious, but that does not necessarily mean they have any merit.

              Just wanted to point that out, and would like to indicate that if you google "how to win every argument", you'll end up with a PDF of a quite nice book detailing the argumentative fallacies.

            • by Reziac (43301) *

              I think it's more that we've spent all the years since WW2 telling kids that they should not do work that gets their hands dirty, that they need degrees and business suits, not tools and skills, that bluecollar jobs are beneath their dignity as a college graduate. So now we have two and three generations who have no idea how to build anything physical. *Naturally* they're consumers.

              We can live without accountants and programmers and car salesmen. We cannot live without carpenters and plumbers and mechanics

            • by readacc (3401189)

              You have an interesting point and I've been feeling the same way for some time. I've been feeling less and less satisfied with just consuming content that others have made and have been taking steps towards creating my own stuff. Right now that's just some hobby coding for a new project, but I have to say it's INCREDIBLY satisfying once you get going.

              But... as you said, you need to be motivated. The first step is finding out how to become motivated. Creating something requires far more effort than just cons

        • by tibman (623933)

          So where does Minecraft fit into that? They are consuming entertainment by "building" virtual structures.

        • Also, as soon as some high school student prints a gun with the 3D printer, that'll go away.

          Yes, just like metal shop went away because students built zip guns (and some "real", if primitive, guns)? Oh, wait, that happened, but high school metal shop only (mostly) went away once, as a culture, we decided that being a pencil-pushing office drone is generally a desirable job, but the dirty work of manufacturing products is an undesirable job. Nobody in rich school districts wants the school to waste Johnny's time teaching him to work with his hands when he'll never need that (we know he'll have a be

    • I worry about the fumes of a makerbot in the poorly ventilated classrooms in many schools.

      At least if they put the 3D-printers in a shop class, they surely have better airflow.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I'm not sure that is more useful. Don't you think we're moving towards additive machining rather than subtractive? The numbers of machinists have been dwindling steadily in the USA, both automotive and general. In the automotive case, centralized rebuilders have taken over most of the business. What would really be useful would be welding, but that's really fairly dangerous stuff and best kept in the colleges. I'm ambivalent about having machining in high schools for that reason as it is. Wood shop is a goo

    • Amen to that. A Makerbot is a huge maintenance load. They need a lot of fiddling and constant maintenance and replacement parts that a school teacher isn't going to have time or money to do. These machines will sit in a corner collecting dust and frustration. Much like the one we have here, in an office full of engineers.

      I'd be fine with a shop class full of nothing but hand tools. Cheaper for the school, lower liability costs, and the students will learn the same set of problem solving and building sk

    • by Tweezak (871255)

      Exactly my thoughts. I was so envious of my brother who went through school years ahead of me. He was able to take metal shop, learn to run a mill, lathe and to weld. By the time I got to high school the metal shop had been shuttered. I was still able to take auto mechanics for a couple semesters and got good at fixing cars. But I'd really love to learn how to weld properly. Yeah...a 3D printer will allow you to build plastic crap that will break and you'll have to make a new one - which fits our disposable

  • We were taught to use them regularly. If they didn't suit our needs we needed to do the rest in our head. They were portable, too; though not interchangeable with other sets. They also came at no cost to the school (though I did know some kids who had only 5, at no fault of their own).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:21PM (#45414137)

    If you think you can unpack a makerbot, press the button and start printing Eiffel towers, you need to get out more.
    It's definitely a DIY machine and produces more failures than successes.

    • by fermion (181285) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:50PM (#45414583) Homepage Journal
      There are high school programs that have 3D printers. The kids develop the skills over a number of years to do useful things with them. The 3D printer is one of the many carrots for learning the skills.

      Here is one area where a 3D printer can encourage students to learn a skill. Suppose that you were reverse engineering some object with many pieces Each student would have to measure and design a piece in the CAD software. Now, most students do not understand why good measurement is necessary, or why they need to make an effort to draw the object exactly, or how many measurements are really needed. So each student draws and the pieces are put together in the software, and adjustments are made because the pieces are not going to fit exactly. Eventually the group of students gets something that fits together in the software and prints. Inevitably one or two pieces are not going to fit together in the physical prototype, debugging will have to happen, and much learning will go on.

      The problem is that such a process is long, there are not many grades involved, and students who are not motivated and curios tend not to benefit very much. There has to be a reason to have a tool in the classroom, and a understanding of how it is going to be used. otherwise it will, like the laser printer, be used to print shoes.

      • I think this is really the only case to be made for 3d printers / CNC in schools. If I ran a private school, there would be a class where students partnered up - each designs a simple project, produces shop drawings and hands it off to their partner, who makes their product and vice versa.
      • and students who are not motivated and curios

        Some of my classmates were curios.

        Sadly they got left on the shelf, except for one - he's in the cabinet.

    • Do i think a kid can unpack a markerbot, download a design for Eiffel towers and start printing them immediately? yes.
      I would expect kids to do this and see how easy and powerful a tool it will be. Then ease them into making modifications and then designing their own inventions from scratch.

      It would be like woodshop 2.0, with less buzz saws.

  • For what cheap injection-molded shit sells for once it is a 'math manipulative, aligned with standards!', rather than a generic plastic toy, 3d printing them might actually save money.

    I was shocked the first time I idly leafed through an educational supply catalog.
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:25PM (#45414189)

    Film projectors that "stuttered"
    Paper printers that jammed, ran out of ink etc...
    Laptops that get dropped, crash etc..

    Nothing like putting something even more complex into a teacher's classroom for them to troubleshoot.

    Is 3D printing really going to help kids do math and read better? I don't recall PrintShop running on an Apple IIe making me a better reader, though I did crank out some banners...

    • by Ksevio (865461)
      So just because something might break means we shouldn't use it? I know that the use of different tools in woodshop gave me much more ways to work on my projects, and even broken parts gave insight into how they worked and how to repair them. For instance, film projectors stuttering is most often due to damaged film or faulty loop sizes.
  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:30PM (#45414267) Homepage

    Since 1962 the per-pupil costs of public schools has quadrupled [ed.gov] (inlation-adjusted — the nominal increase is 25-times!), while the results remain just as — if not even more — disappointing. Indeed, merely 30% of 8th-graders are deemed proficient in reading [mediamatters.org]. Will a "makerbot" help solve this fundamental problem? Somehow I doubt it...

    • by Tweezak (871255)

      Agreed...but apparently throwing iPads at the problem will fix it...or that's what many seem to think.

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:31PM (#45414289)

    Makerbot also launched a call for open models of math manipulatives on Thingiverse (you might remember them from elementary school) so that teachers have something useful to print immediately.

    Why are we encouraging schools to buy thousands of dollars in equipment (the 3D printer, the computer to drive it, the materials, etc - nevermind the teacher getting sent off to training seminars and whatnot) when we don't have enough textbooks for students [google.com], teachers for decades have been paying out-of-pocket for school supplies [google.com], and students are not performing well because they're hungry [google.com]?

    We don't need 3D printers. We need paper, chalk, textbooks, and sandwiches.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)

      We don't need 3D printers. We need paper, chalk, textbooks, and sandwiches.

      What an awful slogan. How about, "Markerboards, not Makerbots!"

    • I wouldn't say 'idiotic' -- I believe you don't need to fix all the problems in the world before you're allowed to do new things. That said, I come from a family of teachers, and that insight leads me to agree with you. I'm especially offended by teachers buying school supplies out of pocket. If I, an employee of a large organization, had to buy office supplies out of pocket, I'd assume the company was on its way down the toilet or at the very least had major management problems. Teachers are somehow con
    • Use the 3D printer to print the paper, chalk, textbooks and sandwiches. Duh!
  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:35PM (#45414349)

    Feed your kids breakfast. Teach them respect for authority. Remove shiny attention-span robbers from the house. Teach them to learn first. A Makerbot just throws money at it, layers more crap on top of a rocky foundation, and kicks the can of responsibility down the road.

    • by fermion (181285)
      I suppose if I had breakfast in school I might have been easier to handle, but I am was a stubborn child and night owl so I never wanted food before like 10am. Of course I watched too much tv and learned quite a bit from it, considering how put down it is. And don't get started on how I went to summer camp on a college campus at 11 where we put in front of teletype and taught to type in and compile basic programs because it was kind of cheaper babysitting for working parent. I mean that was awful for my f
  • What is the difference between Obama printing money to fill his socialist dreams, and Maduro sending armed troopers in electronic stores to lower prices a gun point to give every venezuelian a cheap 50" TV set ?
  • Great idea. Record sales and profits for Makerbot, and a broken-down dust catcher in the corner of every classroom. Meanwhile, the teachers will still be sending notes home at the beginning of each school year asking for donations of paper, pens and pencils, and other basic supplies.

  • I think a makerspace in every school makes more sense. No, fossils, a makerspace is not the same thing as shop class. Teaching kids to code, work with CAD programs, and see the result print out on printers not only teaches STEM more effectively to the kids who are wired to like STEM anyway, but makes the process more accessible to kids who are, say, arty or sporty. So putting 3D printers like Fab@Home's would make more sense than MakerBot because it's more versatile, and gene-sequencing machines, centrif

  • I'm extremely impressed that 3d printers will be seen as the economic boon they actually will be, instead of the Luddite approach of crying that it will kill thousands of manufacturing jobs - which it will, of course, but that doesn't mean at all that it will be a net economic negative.
  • Although the problems with closed-source Makerbot printers and proprietary software from Autodesk are standard /. fare, I think the real issue with the 3d printing hype is how disconnected people are from actually making things themselves without the use of CNC equipment. I think it's also why people are so obsessed with food, it is the only DIY thing most people do anymore.
  • by Kaenneth (82978) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @02:15PM (#45414939) Homepage Journal

    Just wait until a kid prints a gun at school...

  • This'll be about as successful as getting a laptop to every student. Now, 3D printers in, say, shop class in middle/high school? Much more reasonable.
  • Who will teach them? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by morgauxo (974071) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @03:11PM (#45415515)

    My high school had a 1 million dollar computer lab gifted to it. That was quite a bit in 1990s money considering that I had a graduating class of under 40! The problem was that the only teacher who knew anything about computers was the band teacher. He was good, don't get me wrong but his musical love/responsiblities came first and he didn't really have time to teach computer class. After he struggled to fit in a programming class for 1 semester he realized he couldn't do it. After that about the most advanced thing in the room was Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing!

    Maybe school teachers are more techically proficient today? I doubt it! Even if they are.. with all the finiky settings that go into getting a 3d printer to work right, and all the failure prone parts that go into one... I don't see how this can possibly work!

  • Look, scoff all you want, but here at the UW we can now use 3D printers to literally print compostable objects using the same "plastic" we use to make forks and spoons and plates from that are compostable - to grow more food.

    Think about it.

    Reusable chairs and tables that can be composted. Fashion footwear you can throw in the yard waste bin to be turned back into food when they're out of fashion.

    You really don't get it, do you.

    (follow the UW links for Sustainable products at green.washington.edu if you don'

  • Let's start by getting proper pay for and hiring more teachers.

    These fabricator things can be a great learning tool **For a quaified teacher to use**....it's not really on the radar for most schools right now.

    Most schools are busy figuring out which teachers to lay off b/c of unnecessary budget cuts.

    To the point above about "makerbots"

    It is definitely hype. It's embarassing b/c essentially its the same thing as that plastic mold machine at tourist attractions that can make you a plastic souvenier of the Washington Monument.

    Fabricator technology has improved greatly, but only in the commercial/industrial usage areas.

    It **will** eventually reach the consumer level but now it is far,, far from it.

    I **hate** tech hype! Wastes BILLIONS.

    • It's embarassing b/c essentially its the same thing as that plastic mold machine at tourist attractions that can make you a plastic souvenier of the Washington Monument.

      At least those "mold-a-rama" machines demonstrate real-world manufacturing techniques. There are a hell of a lot more injection molding machines out there cranking out parts than there are 3D printers, that's for sure.

  • Makerbot/Thingiverse also deletes designs for products they don't like [slashdot.org], so they can go to hell. Of course, their behavior resulted in an all-too-predictable Streisand effect [defdist.org], so it was actually quite beneficial in a strange way, but that doesn't change my opinion of them.

  • If Obama thinks it's a good idea then it's pretty clear from experience that it is *not* a good idea.

  • It's way too soon for these to matter. Maker Bots are still in a very early stage. Using them for this application now will do no good. Waste of money, time, and effort.

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