3D Printing

In our new Makerspace/Robotics Lab, we’ve got a new Makerbot Replicator for 3D printing (and a Digitizer for scanning objects)! We’ve set it up and run a few test prints. I sent out a tweet last weekend of our first real print:

It’s quite impressive how things come out. I’d downloaded some files from museums and art galleries, and wound up printing out two really impressive objects:

firstprintoutsThe skull is of a Homo Erectus, and the original is over 1.5million years old! It’s a scan of a fossil skull found near Lake Turkana in Kenya (nicknamed “Turkana Boy”). This fossil – and many others – have been scanned and 3D models are available to be looked at and manipulated online at africanfossils.org. This is a terrific resource for any teachers or students interested in studying human origins. (There are also animal fossils as well as tools.) Furthermore, the 3D scans can be downloaded for printing out on a 3D printer. This means that for the price of some plastic filament and some electricity, our school can have a scale model of a real fossilized skull of one of our ancestors. Students can hold it in their hands, look at it from all sides, and see what our ancient relatives looked like (on the inside, at least!).

There are also many museums that have collections of sculptures and artifacts that can be downloaded and printed, such as Rodin’s “The Thinker.” This model was done by a hobbyist and published on Thingiverse, so it’s not as detailed as a scan from the original would be. However, many museums are allowing and encouraging the scanning of artifacts (see this article from The Metropolitan Museum of Art) so it will be increasingly possible for schools to have scale models of sculptures, carvings, or other physical artifacts available to their students.

It’s pretty exciting to have these types of resources available to our students and teachers and community. Come check it out in room S021!

This is cross-posted from my school blog.


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