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Hi guys,

I'm a high school ICT teacher, I've been using Blender with my students in years 8-10 for a few years and this led to me convincing the school to buy a Replicator 2. I'm now using the machine with students in 11 and 12 where they do a toy design unit and a robotics unit in which the 3D printer is really handy for making parts for the robots. An example is my year 10 class one group used the BrickPi (add on to the Raspberry pi) ultrasonic sensor in conjunction with the motor to fire a catapult when someone walks into range.

We have been using this for design work but it's hard with only one printer. I recently brought a Prusa i3 for home and put it together (took about 12 hours - not brain surgery quite easy) so am now looking at convincing the school to buy a few kits and I'll start a group at school to build the kits at lunchtimes. This way we'll get about 4 more machines. I'm using Octoprint on a raspberry pi at home. It can run across a network and you can use the pi to stream video from a web camera also. You can then upload the stl files slice and print in octoprint.

This is advantageous as we will be able to run the software from anywhere in the school provided the kids have access to a browser -time tabling a specific computer lab can be problematic as say my ict class may conflict with the graphics class so one of us may need a different room. It also means I can keep the machines somewhere safe and just pop off the pieces when done and prep the printers for the next lesson. That's the plan anyway.

Some of the open source printers like the i3 are very reasonable in price and not too hard to build. Mine was $275 US it cost $360 Australian on my doorstep because of our poor exchange rate at the moment (and that was with 2 rolls of filament). I've had the machine running almost non-stop for a couple of months now and hasn't missed a beat. Now look at how much it costs to send a teacher on an in-service for a day, they have to cover your class for the day, your transport, potentially accommodation if it is in another city. I'm thinking of talking to a few teachers in the area and saying hey guys lets give up a couple of Saturdays, We'll build our 3D printers over that time and I'll show you how to get them set up and running and at the end of it you have a 3D printer for your school that's cheaper than a days in-service. Get 10 teachers in your area and you should get a bulk discount of some sort, worth a think.