Thinking Outside the Box and Collaborative Learning

Written by: J.J. Johnson, Goshen, IN High School
"It’s been a pretty whirlwind couple of weeks around school, especially in the engineering 
technology department. Students have had some major projects (at least major in terms of 
being beyond the scope of a normal school curriculum) that have been given the stamp of 
completion. I hope to continue to share our 3D printing ventures in education along the 
way as we go.
One of the projects we just wrapped up involved developing a custom product for a 
student with disabilities, nothing amazing and extravagant like a working prosthetic hand 
or the like, (yet). No, this product was an add-on accessory for a gait trainer, a type of 
walker. Several revisions of parts for this product were made on our H1 and my Rostock 
Max. But more about that next time, for now I want to share something cool we learned 
while thinking outside the box and being willing to try something new."
"Part of a design that students were working on used a length of 1020 extruded aluminum 
from 8020 INC. We decided that to give the design a completed look and cover the sharp 
edges, we would print an end cap for both ends of the piece. But with me, nothing can 
ever be simple. I wanted to print “GHS” in the design and have it show up and look
smooth. So we designed the cap in Autodesk Inventor (Sorry Steve, I know you’d rather
I teach students Solidworks) and embossed the letters “GHS” at a depth of .01” into the
end of the part. The part was then oriented in Repetier so the text was face down against
the simulated glass build plate." 
"What I hoped would happen was that layer one would print the outline of the letters only
and leave the inside unfilled. Since the emboss was so shallow, I anticipated layer two 
would be a solid infill layer. Since the solid fill pattern was set to rectilinear, it would 
be in the opposite direction of the first layer, therefore highlighting the text. Look at the 
pictures below if that was hard to follow."
"Eureka! It was gold on the first shot. Maybe it’s already been done, and if we had 
researched it we may have found a blog describing how, but we didn’t. We tried 
something and it worked. I was satisfied but one of my students wasn’t, He immediately 
looked at me and told me that it would be even more impressive if we could do a color 
change between layer one and two. His curiosity was enough for us to think about what 
happens when you pause a print, and if it would be possible to easily make this work. 
I will be pleased to show him Monday, that yes it can be done and the result is very 
impressive. I tested the idea on a 4” round coaster design. We are going to give these 
as gifts to teachers in the building that have sponsored our Shell Eco-Marathon super 
mileage car."
"Does this process have limitations? Yes. Did it accomplish what we wanted? Yes, it 
did, and then some. Would we have been willing to try this on an expensive machine? 
Probably not. But with the products from SeeMeCNC we are very willing to try 
new things, there is great community of Makers behind this movement to add to our 
knowledge base and a team at SeeMeCNC to help us fix what we break."