Tuesday, March 7, 2017

VIDEOS: Why We've Added the M3D Micro to Our 3D Printing Toolbox

With our 3D ThinkLink Initiative now in its fourth year, and 3D design and printing technology evolving faster than ever, we're always on the lookout for new tools that are well-suited to our work with at-risk youth. We've been testing the Micro 3D printer made by M3D and are quite pleased with the results. 

Our Director of Instruction, Tom Meeks, is so impressed that he's making a series of video tutorials about the M3D Micro. The key to the successful use of any 3D printer is to understand how it works and what the operator can do to ensure the best performance and reliability. That is what our M3D video series will try to address.

The videos are primarily for our teachers and students in the programs we serve, such as National Guard Youth ChalleNGe, the PHILLIPS Programs for Children and Families and AMIkids -- but we're happy to share them with all 3D printing enthusiasts. Here are the first two:

The Micro is a valuable addition to our 3D ThinkLink toolbox for many reasons. First of all, it makes high-quality prints. It's easy to use, reliable, compact and quiet. It can handle more types of material than the 3D Systems Cube printers we use at most of our class sites, including flexible and thermochromic filaments. And, yes, it's quite affordable for such a versatile machine. 

Each 3D printer in our toolbox is chosen to fill a unique role. While the M3D is a bit slow to be used in the classroom when compared to our Cube 2 and Cube 3 machines, it is the perfect "personal printer" to be used by teachers and our Youth Mentor students outside the classroom. It extends our educational work beyond the classroom and into the community.

Better Tools, Better Teaching

Although we haven't deployed Micros at program class sites yet, we have purchased several for our 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab, where we've introduced our teachers to them. Our expectation is that teachers will enjoy using the Micro so much that they'll greatly increase their own 3D design and printing skills, then use that knowledge to better tailor our 3D ThinkLink curriculum to their students' particular needs. 
Tom Meeks demonstrates the M3D Micro during 3D ThinkLink teacher training
The Micro is also part of the Tech Pack we give our top students when they complete training to be Youth Mentors. Their mission is to use the printers in sharing their 3D skills with people in their communities, acting as role models to promote positive change.
Freestate ChalleNGe Academy grad Aunya' Jones, our first Youth Mentor,
works with her M3D Micro printer
As Tom noted in his Idearoom3D blog, we're eagerly awaiting the release of the bigger, faster M3D Pro, which won't have to be connected to a laptop while printing. Meanwhile, keep an eye on our YouTube channel for more tips about using the M3D Micro.

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