Well it was back to school for me on day two of EuroMold 2014 as I went for a lesson in 3D printing with TCT Bright Minds, Black Country Atelier, DEMAT and a load of 3D printing goodies from 3D Systems.
After a successful few years at TCT Show, Bright Minds made its EuroMold debut in Frankfurt this week with a rather cool looking classroom setup filled with Cube 3D printers. Designed for school children, I thought I might be able to get the hang of this thing no problem – I am a trained pro after all. Result? Well, the kids got it much better than me.
As my German skills go as far as ordering an orange juice, I joined in on a class assisted with a translator. This actually worked really well given the language barrier with each step explained thoroughly and at a pace that made sure all of the students were up to speed.
There was a good explanation from Black Country Atelier’s David Brannon about the 3D printing process to give the students an understanding of the basics of FDM technology, how the build process works and 3D printing tolerance for modelling. Nothing too complicated but enough to let them know from an early age it’s not just press ‘print’ and 10 seconds later - ta da.
The class showed the children how to create and print a personalised USB stick cover. A simple design but got them interested in the basics of starting up with CAD in Sketchup. There were handy worksheets nearby with a key to all of the functions within the software and a few diagrams to follow.
I will admit, I got a little left behind a couple of times as the children raced past me as though they had always known what to do and I had to be helped a couple of times by David. I hid my TCT badge as not to shame our good name. The children are so technically minded and just seem to absorb the information no problem, which is fantastic.
At the end of the tutorial, a few lucky designs were chose to be printed. I may not speak fluent German but ‘Ooh’s and ‘Ahh’s are a pretty universal sign of being impressed and that’s exactly what you could hear from the children as they watched mini models being created right in front of them.
The inspiring thing about Bright Minds is that you get to see young people really engage with a technology that could be commonplace by the time they reach the working world. For now it’s all about the excitement of seeing a physical object appear from thin air and you could just see that the kids think these machines are cool, which of course they are.
Bright Minds to me looks how I envision a modern Tech RM or woodwork class of the future might look. Children could be sat at a table with a desktop 3D printer printing personalised phone cases instead of hacking away at a piece of wood to make a CD rack like I did – that example is old for many reasons!
The Bright Minds booth will be at EuroMold until 28th November at Frankfurt Messe.