Baltimore Youth Solve Transportation Problems with Digital Fabrication

Last week, DHF hosted our 6th FabSLAM Showcase as the culminating event for this cycle of the annual digital fabrication challenge. This year, during FabSLAM, Baltimore-area youth were prompted to identify a problem they might encounter using any form of transportation and then use digital fabrication methods, like 3D printing or laser cutting, to create a solution.

5th grader describes project to judge

On May 4th, 10 teams of youth in grades 5-11 from Baltimore and DC gathered at the DHF Tech Center to showcase their work to judges and each other. The finale showcase for FabSLAM is always exciting and inspiring and this year proved to be more of the same. Teams arrived ready to share their work with our equally enthusiastic team of judges who have the difficult task of selecting winners.

Our First Place prize was awarded to the Western High School TinkerDoves, for their high-tech bus stop design of improvements that could be made to the Penn North stop in Baltimore City. The judges were very impressed by their proposed solution to a hyper-local problem and one that they encounter on a daily basis on their commute to and from school.

WHS team presents project to FabSLAM judge

WHS team receiving 1st place prizes

Last year, second place was awarded to a Bryn Mawr School high school team, and this year Second Place was awarded to Mawrtian Nation 1, a Bryn Mawr School middle school team. Their project, The Seasick-Free Seat, used 3D printing to fabricate a prototype of a self-leveling chair that would be used on boats to allow “all people to have the most enjoyable sea-faring voyage possible.”

Bryn Mawr School team describes project to FabSLAM judge

Bryn Mawr School team with prize package and FabSLAM judge

Judges awarded Third Place to a DHF team, The Filamentors, for their Trash Collection Boat. The goal of their solution was to attach a fabricated net contraption to boats that are already traveling in the harbor to collect more trash.

Team Filamentors presenting FabSLAM project to audience

Filamentors presenting project to FabSLAM judge

Team Tabby Fab won the Fan Favorite vote from the audience for their Foldable Skateboard that they laser cut for easy storage in a backpack.

The remaining teams who participated had a great showing and we hope to have them all back next year! You can check out their projects here:

Ridgely Middle School FabSLAM team

Team: Ridgely 3D        School / Organization: Ridgely Middle School        Project: Console Trash Can

Greenhouse Turbine train

Team: Mawrtian Nation 2        School / Organization: Bryn Mawr School        Project: The Greenhouse Turbine Train

Fed Hill Prep team describing their FabSLAM project

Team: FabDestroyers        School / Organization: Federal Hill Prep Elementary        Project: Graphene Powered Hover Car

TGR Learning Lab sharing FabSLAM project with judge

Team: TGR Learning Lab        School / Organization: Cesar Chavez Public Charter School       Project: Fabulous Hovercar

Team Square One presents FabSLAM project

Team: Team Square One        School / Organization: Digital Harbor Foundation        Project: Key Collector with Breathalyzer

Bikers United sharing modified bike helmet

Team: Bikers United       School / Organization: Digital Harbor Foundation        Project: Casco Fresco Helmet

 

A giant thank you goes out to our 2017 panel of Judges, without whom we could not run this program! We were honored to have so many judges representing many facets of a variety of industries.

In addition to our awesome panel of judges and enthusiastic teams, we are also grateful for our FabSLAM 2017 Sponsors who provided prizes for the teams! Thank you to MatterHackers, HatchboxBuildTak, LulzBot, DHF Print Shop, Direct Dimensions, and The Foundery for the generous donations of products, materials, and experiences that were awarded to all our teams.

MatterHackers Logo

 

Hatchbox Logo
BuildTak logo

 

LulzBot logo

DHF Print Shop logo

Direct Dimensions logo

 

The Foundery Logo

Thank you to everyone who participated in FabSLAM 2017! We hope to have you participate again next year! If you would like to see all our photos from the event, you can check them out here: FabSLAM 2017 Flickr Album

FabSLAM Baltimore 2017 Launches Today

Wow…it’s so hard to believe that this is our 6th cycle of FabSLAM! We are so excited to continue this program this year and to announce our challenge theme today.

What is FabSLAM?

FabSLAM is our annual, multi-week, team-based, digital fabrication competition. During this competition youth learn and practice design, iteration, and rapid prototyping skills primarily focused on 3D Design and 3D Printing. A challenge theme is presented and teams work to develop a product that fits the theme and meets any accompanying requirements. Teams work with a Coach to help guide the team through the challenge and aid in documentation. Everything culminates in a FabSLAM Showcase where teams present their products to a panel of judges and a public audience for review and feedback. Learn more about FabSLAM here.

Our 2016 First Place team, presenting their oyster habitat to judges

2017 Challenge Theme

This cycle’s challenge theme is TRANSPORTATION!

For this challenge theme, identify a problem you may encounter when using transportation that could be addressed using 3D printing and digital fabrication.

More information:

  • Identify a problem you might encounter when using any form of transportation.
  • Use digital fabrication methods (3D printing) to create a solution to the problem you have identified.
    • This might be a fabricated model of a new approach to a transportation system problem,
    • OR it might be a product that would solve a specific need or problem encountered when using transportation

Teams of youth in grades 3-12 (with an adult coach) are invited to register and join us to compete in this 3D printing competition. It doesn’t matter where you are geographically located in Maryland, as long as you can attend the FabSLAM Showcase at the end of the program on Thursday May 4, 2017.

If you have not registered for FabSLAM yet, simply click below to be taken to the Registration Page.

Register for FabSLAM Today!

We hope you’ll join us for this cutting-edge design and fabrication challenge!
 

Digital Harbor Foundation and Community College of Baltimore County Announce College Credit for After-school Courses

Digital Harbor Foundation (DHF) announced today a partnership with Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) to offer college credit to high school youth enrolled in DHF’s after-school program.

The courses offered as part of this program are focused on Digital Fabrication. Upon completion of the after-school courses and accompanying requirements, high school youth enrolled in DHF’s program will be eligible to earn 3 college credits equivalent to the CCBC DFAB101 course, which is part of the Associate of Applied Science degree.

The Executive Director of the Digital Harbor Foundation, Shawn Grimes, said “I feel great pride in my staff for having created such high quality after-school programs that they should receive this distinct recognition by the higher-ed community. CCBC is a leader in recognizing that impactful learning can happen outside the walls of traditional education and providing youth with meaningful on-ramps into college. This is a landmark moment for the movement toward formal support for informal learning.”

Doug Kendzierski, Chair of the Applied Technology Programs at CCBC explains, “This bridge partnership is consistent with CCBC’s commitment to broaden the pipeline for Digital Fabrication, a high-demand and quickly emerging sector of the manufacturing industry. Baltimore City high school students will be mastering college-level content for eventual transfer and college completion, as well as professional industry employment with highly competitive wages. CCBC is excited about our participation in this project, and look forward to expanding the model both within the Baltimore City School System, and beyond”.

“Anytime CCBC can help high school students earn college credit for the enhanced work they perform in their high school program, we are delighted to assist,” notes CCBC President Sandra L. Kurtinitis. “We are proud of the partnership our faculty and theirs have forged to make this opportunity possible.”

The 3-year agreement began in early Fall 2016 and there are currently nearly ten high school students piloting the program and courses at DHF. This first group of students are expected to complete this pilot in May 2017, at which time they will be able to apply for credit through CCBC.

#SXSL Interactive Sign

Two years ago, two of our youth, Biren and Glory, created a sign for DHF whose color could be changed using a hashtag on Twitter. Today, that project has been scaled in size, magnitude and impact as it serves as one of the center pieces at the White House #SXSL event.

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The build of the larger version letters was overseen and managed by DHF’s former Baltimore Corps Fellow, Jen Schachter, and a very special guest, ADAM SAVAGE!!! Nearly 50 of DHF’s youth and members of the educator community helped assemble the sign.

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Each letter contains an LED strip and an Arduino device from Adafruit. Then a Raspberry Pi crawls twitter looking for the #SXSL hashtag and looks for certain keywords to make the lights react and change color.

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Adam was amazing to have in the space and he was a real inspiration to our youth, not because of his celebrity status, rather because he worked right alongside of us the entire time and treating us as peers. By the end of the 10 hour build process, he was just as sweaty, dirty, and exhausted as the rest of us.

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Commands

Send a tweet with the hash tag #SXSL that includes any of the following words to interact with the SXSL sign.

  • patriot
  • red
  • green
  • blue
  • yellow
  • violet
  • purple
  • orange
  • gold
  • pink
  • teal
  • cyan
  • sparkle
  • stars
  • rainbow
  • earth
  • farming
  • food
  • first lady
  • POTUS

3D Printing for Solving Baltimore’s Problems

Each year, DHF hosts our FabSLAM Challenge, where we invite teams of youth to use 3D printing and digital fabrication to create solutions to problems issued during the challenge. This year we had a great showing at our FabSLAM Finale Showcase with teams putting their fabrication skills and imagination to the test to solve problems they found in their city.

Our challenge theme this year was Cities to focus on very local problems youth might experience or be aware of, and to celebrate the fact that this year FabSLAM expanded to two new regions – Idaho State and Pittsburgh. Participating teams in each of those regions also responded to the same challenge. We will share more about those competitions in the coming weeks.

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This year, we had 10 teams from Maryland and DC competing who were eager to share their work at the showcase and meet the judges to share the work they’ve done over the last six weeks. Each team was asked to present their project, which should have used 3D printing and other digital fabrication techniques, as well as a website documenting their project and progress.

The finale showcase is always inspiring, energetic, and filled with anticipation as teams come together to share their projects, talk about the work they’ve done over the last six weeks, and anxiously await the results to see if their hard work pays off by placing in the competition. We had 7 teams from around the state competing in this cycle, eager to meet our judges and share all their project and all their supporting documentation to compete for a top placement.

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Our First Place prize was awarded to Digital Oyster Foundation, a middle school team representing Digital Harbor Foundation. In response to the challenge, they worked to create a solution to the problem of a dwindling oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay. 3D Printed reef balls were the centerpiece of the oyster habitats they created, which also included an artificial wetland. They received kudos from the judges on the practical and possible nature of their design, recommending that they could get started right away with implementing this solution.

This is the very first time that any DHF team has placed in the competition and we were very proud of their effort.

oystercollage

For the second year in a row, Second Place was awarded to Innovation Nation, a Bryn Mawr School team. Their project, Home Grown, used 3D printing to help imagine what could be done to solve the problem of vacant and abandoned buildings in Baltimore. This team of young ladies took on the challenge of “converting abandoned homes into places of growth” by turning vacant row houses into greenhouses where community gardens could thrive. Innovation Nation also won the Fan Favorite award!

homegrowncollage

Third Place was awarded to another Bryn Mawr School team, Team Amasek, for their Storm Drain Filter. This project aimed to solve the problem of potentially toxic water runoff in Baltimore City storm drains thus contaminating the Chesapeake Bay. The product uses a simple design and a piece of charcoal for filtering the water as it enters the storm drain.

amasekcollage

For the very first time in 4 years, we had elementary school teams participate in FabSLAM! In fact, we had three elementary school teams participate and they did a great job for their first time! One of those teams, FHP Team from Federal Hill Prep Elementary, took home an Honorable Mention from the judges for their ‘R’ Treat Machine aimed at helping to reduce the amount of cigarette butts and gum found on the streets in their neighborhood.

fhpcollage

The remaining teams who participated had a great showing and we hope to have them all back in the future! You can check out their projects here:

batteryboxcollage

Team: Adventure Print        School / Organization: Bryn Mawr School        Project: Battery Box

lakelandcollage

Team: Science Lions 3.0        School / Organization: Lakeland Elementary Middle School        Project: Rebuilding Abandoned Homes / Spikey Ice Crushers

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Team: TWLC        School / Organization: Tiger Woods Learning Center        Project: The New Utensil

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Team: Team Filter        School / Organization: Digital Harbor Foundation        Project: Water Bottle for Homeless

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Team: Neiva        School / Organization: Digital Harbor Foundation        Project: Trash Collecting Tree

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Team: Sleepless in Baltimore        School / Organization: Digital Harbor Foundation        Project: Sleeping Bag Cart for Homeless

 

In addition to all of our awesome youth teams and coaches, we would like to thank our incredible panel of judges for this 2016 cycle of FabSLAM! We couldn’t do this without your support and involvement and we are grateful for all the ways you make this program better!

fabslam-judges

In addition to our awesome panel of judges and enthusiastic teams, we are also grateful for our FabSLAM 2016 Sponsors who provided prizes for the teams! Thank you to HatchboxPrintrbot, Proto-Pasta, Filabot, and Occipital for the generous donations of products and materials that were awarded to all our teams.

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Proto-pasta logo - white

 

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Occipital copy

Thank you to everyone who participated in FabSLAM 2016! We hope to have you participate again next year! If you would like to see all our photos from the event, you can check them out here: FabSLAM 2016 Flickr Album

FabSLAM Goes on Tour: Pittsburgh

In March we had the opportunity to provide our 3D Printing for Educators workshop as a kickoff for the first ever FabSLAM in Pittsburgh! Given that the 2016 FabSLAM theme is cities, it’s fitting that Digital Harbor Foundation has expanded FabSLAM beyond Baltimore. We were thrilled to help build the capacity of the coaches who will be forming and leading teams through the FabSLAM design and fabrication challenge.


Pittsburgh 3D for Ed - Educators 1

From the first moment that the eleven educators began their training, the room was buzzing with excitement and an eagerness to begin their FabSLAM process. The theme of the challenge wasn’t unveiled until the third day, and the educators were on the edge of their seats until the moment of the big reveal.

The educators were welcoming and passionate about the training that they were receiving and absorbed every aspect of the workshop from the 3D design challenges to the calibration of the 3D printers. Since they are going to be responsible for leading their youth cohorts through the entirety of the FabSLAM process, each attendee wanted to make sure to design and print as much as possible throughout the three day event.


Pittsburgh 3D for Ed - Educators 2
The educators were highly engaged and motivated as they navigated the interface of the design software and asked several questions while practicing some of the more advanced design tools and features that we presented. Their passion was evident as they made use of every spare minute to develop and practice their skills in order to empower and train youth. This especially came to the forefront when several educators chose to work through the lunch break, asking us questions as they anticipated potential issues that their youth may have while working on the design challenges.


Pittsburgh 3D for Ed - Adam 1
One of the designs that stood out the most for me was in response to the design challenge where they were tasked with creating an object that would clip onto the workshop tables. We didn’t provide the educators with the table dimensions before the project started. Instead, we passed a digital caliper around the room and every educator took turns measuring the height of the table’s lip. This process of precision measurement was new to several in the room, but they knew that since they would be asking their youth to be willing to step outside of their comfort zones during FabSLAM, it would be good for them to also experience some slight discomfort at attempting a new skill.

I’m pleased to report that everyone successfully completed the design challenge and designed items that would clip onto the table. True to the spirit of FabSLAM and 3D design, there was lots of iteration that needed to happen. The most important part is that the educators were excited to learn from the mistakes and pass their insights onto the youth they’d be working with!


Pittsburgh 3D for Ed - Printing 1
It was an amazing experience to be able to take the FabSLAM program on the road and to work with such an inspiring group of educators who clearly demonstrated their energy and passion for youth development.

A huge thank you to Remake Learning who worked to bring FabSLAM to Pittsburgh, and to the Carnegie Science Center Fab Lab for graciously hosting the workshop. I look forward to seeing the projects that the Pittsburgh FabSLAM teams create!

Build Your Own 3D Scanning Computer

 

In this post, I’m going to tell you about the hardware parts needed to build an affordable 3D scanning computer that you can use with the Xbox Kinect.

This is a follow up blog post for people really dedicated to 3D scanning. If you are just starting out with 3D scanning, you may want to check out these resources first:

 

Software

Skanect is a piece of software that is available to Windows (32 and 64 bit), as well as Mac users. Skanect has a pro version that is $129, but also has a free version which allows us to create our 3D file, and export it. The free version is for non-commercial use only and limits the quality of your scans. Start with the free version and upgrade later if needed. Both versions are available here

Now, without further ado, onto the hardware!

Hardware

This is what our scanning computer setup looks like at the Tech Center:

Specs:

Component Price Point
Case Cooler Master HAF Stacker 915R Mini-ITX Mid Tower $64.99
Operating System Windows 7 N/A
Motherboard Z87N-WIFI mini-ITX-Mainboard $189.99
Processor Intel Core i3-4130 CPU @ 3.40 GHZ (4 CPUs), ~3.4GHz $140
Memory 4GB RAM $30
Hard-Drive 500GB Western Digital Hard Drive $42.99
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce GT 640 2GB Video Memory $89.99
Power Supply Thermaltake TR2 600W 240-Pin Power Supply TR-600 $39.99

 

Our estimated Total Cost: ~$597.94

 

Case: Cooler Master Cooler Master HAF Stacker 915R Mini-ITX Mod Tower Computer Case

  • Why this Product: Just in case you find yourself needing a tower, the Master Cooler HAF Stacker Mini-ITX is a great mid sized tower, mainly because of it’s size. It fits perfectly on our worktable, and does not get in the way.
  • Substitutes: If you choose to go with a different Motherboard, make sure you get the appropriate tower to pair.

OS: Windows 7

  • Why this Product: Windows 7 is a very popular operating system that supports a lot of the applications we run on our machine, such as Laser Cutter software.
  • Substitutes:  Mac OS X

MotherBoard: Z87N-WIFI mini-ITX-Mainboard

  • Why this Product: Brand names aside, any mini-ITX mainboard with graphics card support should suffice. mini-ITX boards generally have zero to two expansion slots, which makes them cheap. This product is great if you’re on a tight budget.
  • Substitutes: Any mini-ITX mainboard with graphics card support will work.

Processor: Intel Core i3-4130 CPU @ 3.40 GHZ (4 CPUs), ~3.4GHz

  • Why this Product: This CPU gives you a lot of bang for your buck in relation to CPU Mark in relation to the price point. cpubenchmark.com has a table of over 20,000 CPUs, their updated price points, and their speeds. Looking on the site we are able to see the cpu mark of a variety of CPUs. The CPU Mark represents a processor’s peak performance relative to other CPUs.

CPUVALUE  CPUMARK

(Taken from http://bit.ly/1MX0UWi)

  • Substitutes: Varies on your budget, Intel Core i5-2500K @3.30 and up.

Memory: 4GB RAM

  • Why this Product: With Skanect requiring a minimum of 2GB RAM, having a bit more RAM for cushion to handle all of our processes is nice.
  • Substitutes: You can never go wrong with more RAM! Just make sure if you are going with a different motherboard, that your board supports your RAM!

Power Supply: Thermaltake TR2 600W 240-Pin Power Supply TR-600

  • Why this Product: You have to power a motherboard somehow!
  • Substitutes: It all depends on the amount of power your motherboard needs.

All in all, building your own 3D scanner computer is a fun task, and will allow for you and your youth to learn more about the inner workings of computers. This computer has been our go to for 3D scanning, and has allowed us to scan all of our staff members here at DHF. We were then able to take the scanned files, export them, edit them, and print them out on our own 3D printers. You DO NOT need to build your own computer to do 3D scanning, this is simply a slightly more advanced DIY project. This process is great for illustrating how digital fabrication works, from the ground up, as well as making personalized 3D figures.

 

iPhone Case Printing Tips

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Having trouble 3D printing an iPhone case? Well here are a few tips to help you out!

iPhone cases are fairly easy to print on your Printrbot Simple’s Matter Control settings that you may have used in the 3D Printing for Educators workshop.

If you haven’t downloaded MatterControl, download it here.

Then, download the settings here.

Now go to MatterControl > Settings & Controls > General > Options > Import

Find ‘No Support Settings (v1.2)’ in the Downloads Folder or wherever you have your download files stored on your computer.

Under the Settings tab, you want to make sure Support Material is turned Off and Fill Density is set to 20% or 0.2.

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Next, go into the Advanced settings. Then change your print Speed to 40mm.

If you are printing an iPhone 6 Plus case, you will want to lower this speed to 20mm.

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So now that you have your print settings, let’s get to printing your iPhone case!

From past experience, I recommend these templates for printing iPhone cases:

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1146452/#files

Unfortunately, the iPhone 6 Plus and 6S Plus won’t fit on the Simple but if you have a Printrbot Plus or printer with a large bed you’re in business!

One more thing, you want to make sure your case prints horizontally on the platform.

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To do that, you want hover over your file and then click View and then Edit.

MatterControl_1_4 (1)

MatterControl__iphone_6_case_v3c

The view window should pop up. Next, click the Rotate tab on the right.

You want to rotate the Z axis by 90 degrees. Enter 90 into the box and then press the Z button.

MatterControl__iphone_6_case_v3_and_DHF_FabHive_Site

Now save it.

MatterControl__iphone_6_case_v3save

And now you’re already to print!

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Simplify3D Review

 

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Overview

Simplify3D is a very powerful 3d printing software that’s easy to use!  No need to hassle through multiple softwares to print objects, Simplify3D has a built-in slicer and file repair. It supports dual-extrusion and provides a new way of adding supports. Once you get a handle on it, I’m sure you’ll love it.

Functionality

Navigation – Simplify3D has done a good job with the navigation throughout the whole software. All of its primary features are easily accessible from it’s main interface and it also has a list of keyboard shortcuts you can use.

Control Panel – This may seem overwhelming if you’re used to MatterControl but, is pretty much an upgrade to those who have used Cura with the Pronterface plugin but, don’t be afraid. I say this because MatterControl makes it easier to locate the control panel and looks easier to use.

 

MatterControl_1_4 Cura_opt (1) S3D_opt

 

Some Cool Features

Supports – Simplify3D provides the ability to add and remove supports where you want it. They’re not the first to do it, but they made it by far one of the easiest methods out there on the market. It’s a brilliant idea with good implementation that I take advantage of and use quite a bit

Printing Profiles – Printing Profiles are preset settings you create for a printer. Simplify3D allows you to create hundreds of printing profiles that have different settings for your printer or another printer. It saves time and eliminates the hassle of changing the printing settings for different files or filaments.

  • For Example: If I was printing with NinjaFlex, I’d create a new profile and set the settings so that the printer prints at the correct temperature and speed settings specifically for NinjaFlex.

S3D_printingprofile

 

Slicing – According to Simplify3D, it’s slicer is lightning fast and is the fastest on the market. This may be a bit of an overstatement, but it’s pretty fast!

I wanted to actually see how fast it actually was so I compared it to MatterControl equipped with Slic3r. I started by slicing a calibration cube on both software tools. Both Simplify3D and MatterControl sliced it instantly.S3D

I went up to a bigger print, this Cute Little Elephant. Simplify3D showed that it’s top dog, clocking in at .88 seconds and MatterControl coming in at roughly 6 seconds.

 

Multi-Part Printing – Simplify3D allows you to print separate files at once. Some software doesn’t allow for this. This is beneficial if you’re printing pieces that interlock because it can improve printing time and print quality.

You can choose to have it print layer by layer or in sequential order. You can also adjust the support, infill, and temperature for each part if needed.

 

Overall

I’d give Simplify3D an overall score of 8/10. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for an software that’s easy, fast, and reliable. Despite the cost of $150, it supplies a lot of features allowing you to get the most out of printer.

 

3D Printing in English Class: Phineas Gage

UPDATE: Shawn has created a remixed the Phineas Gage model to feature a removable rod.

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Phineas Gage was a railroad worker living in 1848 in Cavendish, Vermont. One September afternoon, Phineas got distracted while working with black powder. His 3 foot 7 inch tamping iron blasted through his left cheek, through his brain, and out the top of his skull. It landed about 30 or so feet away with a clang.

And those of you who don’t know the story of Phineas Gage, would think the story ends there, yes? Because… well, how could it not?

A few minutes later, Phineas Gage STANDS UP, and begins to walk around. He lives about 11 years after the accident, and is one of the most famous case studies in neuroscience. In Harry Potter terms, he was The Man Who Lived.

But at what cost? You see, the tamping iron passed through his frontal lobe (which is responsible for impulse control, personality and more, but not functions of life). He became increasingly aggressive, irritable, and short-tempered. It did not end his life, but the event changed his personality, completely and forever.

WOW! What a great story, right? The details of his life and accident are fascinating, not only for…well, anyone — but certainly also for 8th grade students required to read some extended non-fiction at some point during the school year. Hmmm, will 14 year olds be more interested in more about George Washington, or a guy whose doctor wrote:

“…and out leaked several tea-cups full of brain”
-Dr. John Martyn Harlow

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Amazon.com: Purchase the book

Phineas Gage it is! I highly recommend and use in my class an excellent book by author John Fleischmann: “Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story about Brain Science.”

While the story does enough in itself to engage students, doesn’t the great teacher always want to do more?

It’s hard to imagine really the specifics of what this looks like. Only one actual photo of Phineas exists (the one at the top of the page on the left), besides pictures of his skull. So first, I created an exact replica of his tamping iron for students to pass around and get a feel for what this might be like passing through your head.. It is 3 ft 7 inches long, about 3/4 inch at the base, coming to a tapered point.

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It was made of… duct tape. Wrapped around an old golf flag. But that wasn’t enough. It never really is. I also wanted a 3D printed skull of Phineas to show students. Unfortunately, like many of you, I am not a phrenologist, and so don’t have the background to make the model myself.

I began my research last year about this time, but all I could find was a graduate paper where it was mentioned a 3D file was attached. But the paper did not – and would not – release the 3D scan of Phineas to the public.

7706183Finally, Thingiverse comes to the rescue! (As it seems to do so often). In May, a model of Phineas Gage’s skull was created and released. The model may not be exact or fit perfect to the story. Some of the angles look to be just slightly off true-to-life.

But the coolness factor is achieved 1,000 fold — it includes the tamping iron in the print, physically GOING THROUGH HIS HEAD!

You can see that in the model the tamping iron goes below the print bed. So, to print, the first thing I had to do was use some software to cut the model at the bottom of the bed, shortening the tamping iron a bit.

Additionally, the original model is HUGE. It might be the actual size of a head. We use a Printrbot Metal Simple, so that wouldn’t work. Make sure to scale down the model to a size that works for you.

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The model is quite hollow as a real skull, so it only sits on the bed by the chin and back round edge of the skull. The first time I attempted to print, it fell off.

Make sure to add a brim. I used 4 or 5 mm to make sure there was a nice wide place for it to sit. I printed at .2 layers for a fine sleek look.

And that’s it! On the second attempt, about 11 or 12 hours later, it worked beautifully. No support needed.

A few of the teeth in the back got a little messy because they are sort of small, but that’s ok! In a Phineas Gage-like level of coincidence, the real Phineas also lost his back left molars (albeit, not due to printer calibration– but of course due to a massive metal object obliterating them completely).

The students absolutely LOVED the print. You could hear the “oohs” and “aaaahs” as I passed it around the room (with a plea: “please, dear God be careful with this!”).

The kinesthetic educational appeal is apparent, and the students were able to see and touch something in real life that before, they could have only imagined.

 

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Scott Dellosso is an English teacher who loves to incorporate making into his English class. You can follow him on Twitter @scott_dellosso or catch his new blog at dellosso.weebly.com