Last year, Pace received its first 3D printer, the Ekocycle Cube. Access was originally limited to the Robotics team but has recently been extended to other groups within Pace, including Dr. Pearson’s AP Physics C class. In order to utilize the printer, students must be familiar with the software required to convert the design from a blueprint to a 3D model. Students can either create their own designs or select from a variety that can be found on the website Thingaverse.com.
In AP Physics, Dr. Pearson has changed his curriculum to incorporate 3D printing. His students are required to actually produce some of the designs they have created for projects. “Since the students must accurately model their ideas, they have to develop a precise blueprint, which causes them to deepen their understanding of the problem they are facing,” said Dr. Pearson. For extra credit, his students can also design other items such as chess pieces.
The complexity of the design for a 3D product will determine the time required to program it. The Ekocycle cube prints the product layer by layer, which can take between 20 minutes to 10 hours. However, once that process finishes, there are no extra steps. “As soon as [the product] hits the platform, it starts to harden, so as soon as it’s finished printing, we can take it off the platform without having to let it cool down,” said Ms. Korb, who teaches Robotics.
The Upper School has two 3D printers, which are located in the Robotics classroom, and the Art department has a third one. The access to 3D printing has transformed both the Robotics and the Physics departments in the past year. Moving forward, Pace hopes to continue to broaden the use of the 3D printers and grant access to others so that more students can utilize the advanced technology.