Thursday, 30 January 2014

#3DPM@MadLab 27th January 2014

The 3D Printing Network is a social enterprise looking to bring 3D printing technology to as many people from as many varied backgrounds as possible - and it looks like we're winning! This week continued with a hardware discussion group based around a BCP Labs 01 3D printer.  We also had an advanced CAD design tutorial, a beginners workshop and some people who came to watch what 3D printing was all about!

Design newbie - rising to the challenge!
This week we started a new workshop for beginners. How to design your first 3D printed item. The aim of this workshop was to bring people with ambition, and a laptop with Sketchup loaded on their laptops together with a design challenge. The challenge - design their own nameplate key-ring ready to be printed and worn by the next meeting! Alan and John made a good start, and we'll see the outcome at the next meeting!

Design pro's - achingly close to begin prototyping!
The point of bringing people through the introductions to CAD design is to get them to the point where they can use 3D printing to bring their creations into reality. Our beginners workshop results in a design that is completed in a matter of hours. The advanced group is run with a professional designer advising and members working on designs that have been ongoing for weeks. This means we can't always understand what the designs are, but we can make sure it's ready for printing.  When it is printed, we can begin the process of healing the design until we reach printed nirvana!

BCP 01 3D Printers showing the hardware group how it's done!
The hardware group has access to two BCP Labs 01 3D printers. Although based upon an open-source Mendel design, these printers can print as well as anything on the market, and provide us with an excellent reference by which to teach members about hardware.  That being said, we're always open for new or different printers being introduced to the group.  This week hardware tweaks during prints were the topic of the day whilst one members design was being printed.  There is a chance we'll be hosting a printer from Ultimaker soon, so watch this space!

3D Printers - the object of affection for other social enterprises!

At 3D Printing Network we're always looking to help other social enterprises develop 3D printing themed workshops. We've delivered our last co-run event with FACT Liverpool before Christmas, and we're always open to new offers. The group nights are a good way for social entrepreneurs to come along, meet Sam, Mark, Joanna and Keith; and work out where we can work together.

The end of a fun night!
So the end of another group night! We'll be running workshops every meeting! We're also going to be developing 'build a printer' workshops! We've meetings coming up at MadLab and FabLab, as well as a 3D printer market and advice office opening at JWRetailing at Farnworth. It's all coming soon, so watch this space!

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