For the past couple of weeks, I have been finding it bit more difficult to delve into my In-Depth on a regular basis (due to other leadership events and such), but found some time to speak with Mr. Biley, the Tech-Ed teacher at Gleneagle. Through some email correspondence, I found out that the school had its own working 3D printer, so I was curious to take a look at it, as well as ask Mr. Biley for some guidance in my area of study.

Upon meeting up with Mr. Biley, he showed me the school’s Airwolf printer, which is a bit of a higher end model than the one I have built at home. However, like my own printer, it can print in both PLA and ABS plastic and has a heated bed, so the capabilities of the Airwolf and my own Velleman K8200 are not drastically different. Because of this, I could easily use the printer at the school with a little bit of training, in the case that I wanted to print something with Mr. Biley’s help (he agreed to give me run-down of how to use the actual machine after spring break). During our meeting however, he just gave me a quick tour of the machine, and gave me some tips on preparing warping of plastic during the printer. One of the most interesting tips was his suggestion of applying a thin layer of an Elmer’s glue stick to the bed of the printer so that the plastic adheres more firmly to the bed. Then, since the glue is water soluble, it can be washed right off! I thought this was an a useful tidbit of information, so I’ll have to try it out on my next print.

In addition, Mr. Biley and I also spoke about the 3D printer on the International Space Station, and how NASA sends up information for various prints for wrenches or other tools that are needed. Finding this quite interesting, he showed me a wrench that he printed, which was identical to one that is currently aboard the ISS. With a plethora of digital models out in the world, it isn’t hard to get a hold of the designs for NASA-modeled tool; years ago, this would have been unthinkable! Mr. Biley’s insight on this particular subject served as a good reminder for how versatile 3D printing has become in our modern age.

Lastly, Mr. Biley steered me towards another modelling program called Rhinoceros. Our conversations towards this particular program when something like this:

Me: “I know that you also teach a lot of CAD modelling within tech-ed classes, and I am interested in doing some of my own modelling. Are there are any programs that you would suggest starting out with?”

Mr. Biley: “Rhinoceros would be a good one for you to take a look at. It’s fairly easy to learn, I had a student’s four year-old sister on it and working it within fifteen minutes, but it is also one of the most powerful programs out there. It’s very versatile in terms of the modelling features”

Me: “And are there online tutorials available as well? I have found that they are quite common with other modelling programs”

Mr. Biley: “Yes, for sure. You can also look for inspiration in other people’s models, but it’s nice to start creating things from your own head rather than someone else’s. Then, you really have ownership over it”

During this particular conversation I was using the “Green Hat” according to DeBono’s book, How to Have a Beautiful Mind, because I was asking for Mr. Biley’s personal insight and ways to expand the possibilities for my project. Mr. Biley mainly used the black or yellow hat, as he was thinking critically about what resource would be useful to me, and why it would be fitting for my project. I will get another chance to speak further about some of these concepts after Spring Break, and look forward to doing so!