Bringing the museum to the classroom through 3dprinting.

wooly mamooth

Remember those lessons in school where teachers enthusiastically described topics from a text book?  Photos were the only real way to gauge an understanding of the topic along with a vivid, wandering imagination. Well lessons are changing with schools starting to adopt 3dprinting technology in the classroom. Sometimes in lessons you just did not get the topic, you couldn’t imagine it in your mind and ultimately you did not fully learn about it, this is where 3dprinting can be most powerful. The Smithsonian museum in Washington DC has started scanning in it artefacts and making them available to download for 3dprinting. They are free and anyone can access them (click on the image below). Image the situation, you are a teacher and want to bring a lesson to life with physical replicas of artefacts that relate to your lesson.Screenshot 2014-06-28 13.42.54 Now you can just download and then 3dprint the model. Suddenly a lesson that might have been a bit on the flat side can come to life with actual physical examples for students to study and exam. Maybe you are a parent and your child has been given the homework task to create a presentation on the history of dinosaurs. How impressive would it be to 3dprint of a T-Rex at home and then present it in class?

The best thing about 3dprinting and education is that many museums and organisations are starting to scan in their exhibits and store digital copies of their artefacts. Recently, the Historic Royal Palaces scanned and 3dprinted Henry VIII’s crown and made it available for the public to download through Thingiverse. Image the lesson where elementary school students learn about the infamous royal and then actually get chance to wear his crown in class because the teacher had 3D printed out the model the night before. Learning can now really be enhanced through the integration of 3dprinting into lessons.

More recently, the Science Museum in London opened an exhibition called ‘3d Printing the Future’ with the aim of educating visitors about the benefits of 3dprinting. Museums can sometimes be frustrating places when viewing exhibitions. Everything is always out of touching distance behind glass panels, when really you want to grab hold of the object and get some tactile feedback. Now this is possible by exhibiting 3dprinted replicas of the artefacts and allowing visitors to interact with displays. What’s the worst thing that could happen? A 3dprinted replica breaks, then you can just print another one! I have heard people use the term ‘3dprinting, the future is here’. In this case we can say with ‘3dprinting, the past is here’.

‘MakersAffair’ to launch 3dprinting workshops in London


Do you want to learn how to 3dprint, but you don’t know where to start? Do your children ask to learn about the technology but you really have no clue how to meet their demands. The answer could be here with the launch of Maker’s Affair 3dprinting workshops in London. Maker’s Affair was set up by Loh Hu, a graduate from Singapore who came to the UK to study a Masters degree in Business Innovation at Birkbeck College. Upon graduating she was endorsed by the university as Graduate Entrepreneur to set up a company in the UK, so she set up  Maker’s Affair.profile pic The idea of the company is to provide quality workshops on 3dprinting for complete beginners. Loh explains she is, ‘conducting 1-to-1 Hands-On 3D Printing Workshop for complete beginners with full attention and guidance provided. During the 3 hours workshop, the maker will learn how to design, slice and print their very own customised pen (PC, printer and all materials will be provided). I believe this is one of the most efficient ways to truly learn and understand 3D printing process. In essence, I stand by the principles of “learning by making” when designing the workshops’.  The best thing about this is at the end of the workshop you will have a usable product to take away with you. As an educator myself this seems like a great place to start and I totally agree with her statement of ‘learning by making’. Many times in the classroom I have found that students learn better and understand concepts in greater detail when they are actually making something rather than simply studying the theory.

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As well as 3dprinting workshops, Loh is providing a 3dprinting service via 3DHubs. Loh explains, ‘Anyone can upload their 3D object digital file, choose a filament to print it with and get an instant quotation before confirming the order. It is a pretty cool platform where you can get someone living near your area to print your 3D object.’  So, even after completing the workshops you can still 3D design at home and then have Maker’s Affair print out your design if you don’t have access to a 3dprinter. In addition to standard 3dprinting, she has also acquired some 3dprinting pens that children can use their creative freedom to design and make things. These pens are great as you don’t need any experience at all to use one. Also you could have all the CAD experience in the world, but that means nothing when it comes to the 3dprinting pens. Everyone is equal and there are no barriers apart from your imagination.  Maker’s Affiar is situated at the ‘Old Street roundabout’ on the boundary of the boroughs of Hackney and Islington (there seems to be a 3dprinting explosion in London at the moment with the 2013 3Dprintshow being situated at the business design centre in Islington last year) so it is ideally placed to serve the whole of central London with easy access to transport links. I really think we need more of these workshops, maybe Maker’s Affair could just be the start of a whole new business model……

For more information about MakersAffair please visit the website and check out the workshops section;

To download a free copy of her pens then visit the 3dfilemarket link below;

3D Printed Pen

InMoov – 3Dprint your own life size humanoid robot



It’s 2013 and I was at the 3dprintshow in London. There was a large crowd gathered around a stand so naturally I was intrigued to see what the excitement was about. I knew the 3dprintshow was about to impress beyond anything I had ever seen before but nothing could prepare me for this. After manoeuvring through the bodies I came face to face with a 3dprinted robot that bore a striking resemblance to the robot from the movie ‘i robot’ with Will Smith. I had to find out more, this was the stuff of science fiction right here right now. The robot was responding to voice commands given by an operator and seemed highly intelligent, the robot could even take a ball out of a child’s hand when commanded to do so. The crowd was naturally left speechless and so was I. Upon further investigation I found out through Gael Langevin, the projects creater, that the whole design is open source and the files are freely available for anyone with a 12″x12″ 3dprinter to start experimenting. Without any real robotics experience Geal has created this fully functioning 3dprinted voice activated robot, that  is free for anyone to have a go at printing their own. The fact that it is open source means you are free to adapt and improve the designs.

The project started when Gael was tasked with creating a 3dprinted modern looking prosthetic hand for a commercial photo shoot. He had acquired a ‘Bits from Bytes’ 3D touch printer (one I am extremely familiar with myself, having used one in education for the past three years) to prototype the hand on. The photoshoot ended up being cancelled but Gael still wanted to develop the limb, so he added  servos and a ‘Arduino’, an open source electronics prototyping platform and created a fully programmable electronic hand. After posting the designs online for anyone to experiment with, the feedback he received was all positive and 3dprinting enthusiasts wanted more so he developed the project further into a full scale responsive robot. The result now being the InMoov project has a legion of followers world wide and Gael’s designs have been downloaded thousands of times.

This is why 3dprinting is so powerful and is really changing how we view and access technology. This project was usually the preserve of high tech research and development teams at Blue Chip companies or university PHD students, now the everyday consumer, through 3dprinting can access this project through it’s open source origins.  When he was asked why the robot is open source he states, ‘I have no idea if they will improve our lives, robots are created by us. They will be our extensions somehow. Just like any tool they will be what we want them to become. I trust the human race even if everyday news shows mainly our negative side’. Truly inspiring words from the creator of this innovative project. This is one project I will follow to see how it develops. Fancy like having a go at 3dprinting your own InMoov robot?  Download the files here;

InMoov will be at two shows in June the first being;

The second show will be the Paris Makerfaire on the 21st and 22nd June. Click the link below;


For more information on this ground breaking project click the robot below;



GaGaël Langevinël Langevin

Joshua Harker – “Mazzo di Fiori”



Now this is exciting, ‘Joshua Harker raising funds to complete the Research and Development of a revolutionary new 3dprinting technology’. This leaves my taste buds salivating. For the past few years consumer 3dprinting has been pretty much the same, a spool of PLA/ABS, an extruder and a build plate. Yes there may be differences in one companies claim to offer a higher print resolution or another companies statements of  faster printing speeds, but really most of them produce the same outcome baring a few microns. I often think to myself what is next with the consumer 3dprinting market? We are still waiting for the killer revolution to shake the market up.  The technology still has its draw backs before it can really be accessible to everyone. However, Joshua Harker’s new kickstarter campaign sounds just what we need to breath new life into the crowded printer market up. ‘A 3Dprinter being developed by one of the worlds top 3dprint artists? Now that is a campaign I would back.’

I had the privilege to meet Joshua at the 3dprintshow in London 2013.IMG_4460 I had followed him from his first kickstarter campaign (Crania Anatomica Filigre) as his artwork is truly stunning and ground breaking. He gave a lecture at the show detailing how he progressed into 3dprinting at the very start of the technology, and from what he explains we have a lot to thank this guy for. Joshua’s artwork is progressive and pushes the boundaries of what is possible in the art world,in the ‘earlier days’ he pushed what was physically possible with 3dprinting technology and demanded more than what the technology could offer. It sounded like the 3dprinting was playing catch up to his creativity and imagination. Luckily 3dprinting has caught up and he is making the printers work hard for him with ground breaking art work. The campaign offers 3dprinted elegantly designed flowers and are stunning in aesthetics (you won’t get these down the local florists). Joshua explains on his kickstarter page, Flowers are a universal gift of “thank you” & given that I’m asking for your help, I want to thank you in a meaningful way.  I have created a series of 3d printed filigree flowers called “Mazzo di Fiori”.  There are 12 Flowers, a Lotus/Lilypad, & the Ripple Vase.  The composition celebrates the harmony & beauty of opposite & opposing forces.  The water surface depicts the plane of separation between liquid & gas with the reaching flower transcending & binding both worlds… an environmental yin yang.  All pieces are 3D printed in SLS polyamide (essentially a nylon powder fused together with a laser).’

My final thoughts? This one is worth a pledge!  Click the image to visit his campaign.

By Philip Cotton


3dprinting at Second Baptist School Houston Texas


I was recently contacted by a high school in Texas regarding some 3dprinting advice. This was through my linkedin profile and on the back of winning the 3dprintshow education excellence award. This was a proud moment that a school thousands of miles away wanted some advice in introducing 3dprinting into the classroom. After a few months of experimenting with 3dprinters, Javier Saavedra had successfully exposed high school students to this amazing technology with some really good results. Ones that I feel I need to share, as for technology teachers this is a great way to introduce the new technology beyond design and into STEM areas. Javier explains;

Second Baptist School geometry students set out to blend their skills in 3-D printing and math to create their very first object from the 3-D printer. Mr. Javier Saavedra, Global Technology Specialist, and Mrs. Patti Otwell, geometry teacher, joined forces to teach a lesson that combined design software, spatial reasoning and math.

The first task on hand was to find measurements from a blueprint of an object drawn on the board with the basic dimensions provided. Students calculated measurements, coordinates and the positioning of independent structures. They then inputted their data into a 3D software and submitted their files to print their objects.

To test the accuracy of their measurements, Mr. Saavedra created a “negative” model of the “positive” shape the students made. The grade for the project was determined on how accurately each student’s model fit into the “negative” model; a perfect fit, a perfect score!

Mr. Saavedra said that most student models fit perfectly and the ultimate goal of the project was to, “teach the next generation the necessary 3-D design skills to succeed in their future careers while applying their knowledge acquired in mathematics, geometry, science and beyond.”

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This project and way of introducing students to 3dprinting gets the thumbs up from me! Teach them the basics of CAD and then let the students apply their knowledge to a given task. The more accurate the outcome the higher the mark, the less accurate the outcome the mark is reduced. The prints are small so they will be quick and easy to make so time would not be a big issue here. You could also really make it more demanding and give students a tougher task after this project… Design a container to hold a given amount of fluid. The students would then have to design their own hollowed out shape/container and use their maths skills to calculate the volume. The closest design that holds just the given amount of fluid would gain the top marks!

Second Baptist School in Houston, well done I like this project!

By Philip Cotton

Leo the Maker Prince – how to engage a generation into 3dprinting


My background is education and teaching high school students about 3dprinting. I have often thought to myself, ‘how can we engage even younger children into 3dprinting?’ I teach teenagers and they love 3dprinting, they can’t get enough of it and they demand it in most lessons now! However, how do you get elementary age children to understand and relate to the concept of building objects layer by layer? Well the answer has been created by Carla Diana and her 3dprinting robot ‘Leo the Maker Prince’.pic 1  Leo the Maker Prince is a intriguing account of how a 3dprinting robot comes to the aid of an accountant called ‘Carla’, who with the onset of Hurrance Sandy, was blown from her bicycle by a sudden gust of wind and ended up blacked out on the sidewalk. When she came around a little robot called ‘Leo’ was looming over her. Leo assists Carla and takes her on a journey of 3Dprinting adventures throughout the book, all expertly written with the aim of educating youngsters about 3dprinting. I haven’t read a children’s book since I was a child and this one brought a smile to my face. I would never have thought as a 31 year old that I would enjoy reading a children’s book. I enjoyed it so much I read it again! The joy about this book is the subtle way Carla manages to breakdown the often complex terminology of 3dprinting and make it understandable for young children. The book introduces children to key technological terms such as ‘prototype’ and ‘Fibonacci sequence’ in the ‘fun facts’ section of each story, along with stunning art work that makes the book visually appealing to children, this really is an educational masterpiece. The story entices you into reading more as the chapters are short, sharp and easy to absorb. I could personally see this book being a perfect way for teachers to introduce young children into 3dprinting before exposing them to the actual physical machine.T hey would compliment each other and really enhance the learning of students.  Overall this book is fantastic, I am not aware of anything else on the market that offer this kind of 3dprinting experience for young children.

Carla’s background is Product Design and Engineering. She studied Mechanical Engineering as an undergraduate and worked as an engineer for several years until returning to graduate school to study 3D design. She now teaches at The University of Pennsylvania and the School of Visual Arts. When asked about the inspiration for the book, Carla explains, ‘I’ve been super excited about the new low-cost 3D printers that were starting to emerge on the market such as MakerBot and Ultimaker, and wanted to do a public-facing project to share this excitement–either a book, or product or art piece. When I began interviewing experts about predictions for the future of 3D printing, the message was clear: we know that 3D printers will be part of everyday life in the future, but we’re still not sure exactly how. This potential was fascinating to me, so I started collecting notes about future scenarios (3D printers to download products, 3D printers as mini-home factories, 3D printers for making food, etc.) Once I thought about the underlying message I wanted to convey, I felt strongly that the story had to be told in a very visual way, and that 3D-printed objects themselves should be a big part of the illustrations and the narrative. And if the book featured pictures of objects, then those objects should be downloadable and 3D-printable!’

0_INTRO_sheepAloneCarla explained she took seven months to write the book and she designed all the characters herself with the help of a summer apprentice Alexa Forney (a student in the Product Design Program at Drexel University) who assisted with the brainstorming, sketching and CAD aspects of the designs. The project was further assisted by story editor (Cindy Hanson), book designer (Nicholas Lim) and photographer (Claudia Christen) who were involved in helping make the objects fit with the story line.

When asked about the future of Leo the Maker Prince, Carla is excited about where the book will take her. Already she has had great success since launching the book and has worked with Makerbot to host reading events in their 3dprinting stores in New York City, Greenwich, Connecticut and Boston. Carla has also featured in a six day residency programme at the Museum of Arts and Design that was sponsored by Shapeways. Here in the UK we are looking forward to Carla bringing Leo the Maker Prince to London on 30th April when she will take part in an online webcast called, “Behind the Scenes of LEO the Maker Prince: Journeys in 3D Printing”. Check out the link to find out more. Carla is also due to visit the UK at the end of May to spread the message of Leo and 3dprinting further with some great events planned. Her next event in the USA will be at ‘Maker Faire and MakerCon’ in California.

Leo the Maker Prince is really making inroads in the education of children and 3dprinting. Carla describes her the most memorable reaction from a child the moment when she noticed a young boy engrossed in the book reading intently page by page about the stories of Leo. When she spoke to the parents, they informed her that this young boy (Asher Weintraub) had designed and developed, with the help of 3dprinting, an invention to help celebrate both Hanukkah and Thanksgiving simultaneously. The object has since sold 7000 copies and the young designer was invited to meet President Obama in the Whitehouse. Carla explained, ‘The entire time his parents were explaining this boy’s creativity and ambition to me, his head remained buried in the book. I felt that if a young expert such as he was so immersed then I must have done something right!’ Carla also has great plans for the future of Leo, one day she hopes that Leo will be brought to life in an animated series where children can print models that they see in the episodes.

This really is an amazing ground breaking project. I am not aware of anything else out there at the moment with the vision to educate a generation about 3dprinting. Most 3Dprinting educational resources I have experienced are aimed at high school students, Leo the Maker Prince is the perfect way to introduce young children to the exciting and rapidly moving world of 3dprinting. Carla has Leo the Maker Prince featured on Amazon, check out the links below.

UK site


The is proud to host the designs of Leo the Maker Prince, for more information please visit and

To download the models please click the link below; my attempt to shake up 3dprinting and filesharing by Philip Cotton

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The story behind the site…. My aim is to create a 3d sharing platform where users can freely download and 3dprint amazing printable designs and ultimately help expand 3dprinting. There are many different file sharing sites out there at the moment, however the is unique in all designs have been verified and checked that the models are actually printable, you will not see screen shots of CAD models on the, printability is the key here. Also there is no restriction to how you use the site, you can download as many models as you like and you don’t even have to register for an account. I personally approve all the designs that make it to the site, if the quality is not good enough then the design will be rejected.

My background is education, I am a high school Design and Technology teacher in the UK who specialises in teaching students Product Design. I became involved in 3dprinting about 3 years ago when I first heard of 3dprinting. I was excited about this new technology, straight away in my mind I thought I have to get this in the classroom. After obtaining a 3dprinter for school there was no stopping me. Along with educating high school pupils about the technology I became obsessed about it myself. Who needs a playstation when you have a 3dprinter? This technology 3dprinting had re-ignited my passion for CAD modelling and designing new things, I became a reborn tinkerer and I started to realise how powerful 3dprinting would become.

After a few years of teaching and learning the technology I won the 2013 Global 3dprintshow Educational Excellence award for 3dprinting in education. This is the highlight of my teaching career being the first to win the award. Since winning the award I have continued to teach 3dprinting and also have   the aim of spreading the work of 3dprinting. I  been involved in many different projects involved in all aspects of 3dprinting and this continues to increase on an almost daily basis. On my blog you can see all the things I have been involved in with 3dprinting. So that’s it in a ‘nutshell’, check out the site and get 3dprinting.

Phil Cotton


3doodler – The kids just love it… so do the teachers.

There was the hype on Kickstarter and then there was relative calm for 6 months whilst 3doodler sorted their thousands of orders ready for shipping. The 3dprinting pen that had created a storm of interest was about to be tested and let loose in a Bolton classroom. Myself and the Art Teacher both placed an order and had waited in anticipation for them to arrive. After a few delivery mishaps and customs clearances the 3doodler had landed.

When you first take it out the box it’s quite big thing. It’s more of a stylus rather then pen and was very easy to set up. It’s was almost fool proof actually, you simply plug it in, wait for the green light and load a PLA/ABS stick of into the end of the pen. Then it’s simply up to you what you create (or should that be #whatwillyoucreate ). It’s actually not the easiest thing to operate at first, you have to spend a few minutes getting used to the speed of the plastic extruding and also you need to feel out the correct amount of pressure to apply when drawing a 3d object. The videos from 3doodler make it look so easy!!! Once you have your technique then the world is your oyster……

Myself being a technology teacher one of the first things I decided to do was take the thing apart. Its pretty basic on the inside and was simple to put back together. One thing that could be an issue after a few years of using one is the build up of filament dust internally. We had only been using it for a few weeks and somehow the inside showed signs of the filament residue

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However once you get started with this pen its great fun. It is almost therapeutic, you can escape the world of reality and express your creative genius with no limits to what you can create. The only limit is your imagination. Below is the effort by Chet Mistry the Art teacher. In class the students went wild for it and I had a waiting list of pupils wanting to doodle. It is actually a good tool to ensure children work to their highest potential…. just bribe them with the phrase ‘show effort and commitment in lesson with your work and you can have ten minutes on the 3doodler pen’. It worked a treat. This is great fun and is an excellent creative tool, I just hope the material price is cheap and affordable so we don’t have to worry about the cost of running the pen.

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My final verdict is a thumbs up for the 3doodler pen. Also a big thanks to for donating a pen to the school.

Project Daniel. ‘A call to arms for 3Dprinters’.

There is the discussion and debate about the role that 3dprinting has in our society. Many people are asking how 3dprinting can actually be relevant in our everyday lives? The question asked by some is,  ‘what use would I have with a 3dprinter in my home?’ Will it actually be a benefit for me to personally print my own objects? What is the point in 3dprinting when I can just go the store and buy the object? Sometimes, I find myself having to defend 3dprinting and justify the reason why it will eventually transform our lives like the internet did over the past 15 years. On open night at school, when parents look around deciding if they are going to send their children to our school, many adults simply look at the machine in action printing away layer by layer and simply walk away. They do not even start to question what they have just witnessed in front of them. It’s probably just too much for some to comprehend. Some even make flippant comments such as ‘it’s a bit slow isn’t it’ and ‘what’s the point in that then?’ Well here’s the point in 3dprinting, it can drastically change your life and is doing so in Africa through the 3dprinting of limbs for children that have lost arms through war and conflict. I played this video to all my classes and I have never seen teenagers so lost for words. One student even said to me, ‘sir why are you here, you need to be out there helping those kids, we will be ok whilst you are gone’. It struck a chord with me. 3Dprinting is changing these childrens’ lives beyond our immagination. The video states 50,000 children have lost limbs since war broke out. Imagine if every school in the UK/USA and Europe printed out a set of parts to make a 3dprinted limb. Imagine the difference that could make? In design and technology education we are often questioned how the projects we teach children are actually relevant in our modern tech savvy world. Well this is a project that is the most relevant I have ever seen. Imagine if every school had an afterschool 3dprinting club where the aim is to print out the parts and assemble an arm. You could also teach children how to alter the design and possibly even find improvements. They would also learn the mechanics of assembling all the parts and problems solving. One major aspect of learning that most children need more time involved in, is the ability to solve a problem. Many students see problems as a major issue and don’t know how to deal with them, well imagine if you had the problem that these children have in the video? They have real problems, our problems are not problems compared to theirs. Ours are just inconviences! Watch the video and see if you can help. I am going to start by printing the parts from the ‘robohand’ on and progress from there.

Take the 3Dprinting adventure of a lifetime with Project Shapeshifter.

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Ok, so we all know how cool 3Dprinting is. The media is reporting that this will change our lives forever and that we will all become makers in our own homes printing object after object. This is powerful thinking, the fact that ‘Star trek’ could suddenly be happening in our houses and schools in the not too distant future. Here’s the concept, you press ‘print’ on your printer and then come back in a few hours and bingo an object has been made! If only it was that easy.

I am an educator by profession and have spent many hours teaching students the concept of 3D CAD modelling. Anyone can easily download a model from ‘Thingiverse’ or the forthcoming ‘’ and print it off. However, can the average consumer create their own models? I know from experience many students can get frustrated with the complexity of professional grade Industry CAD modelling suites  that are parachuted into schools. Can we expect a 13 year old to master the functions of a CAD programme that degree educated professionals use? My opinion is no, there has to be a bridge between education and industry. Many students know what they want to design but can’t access the right features on the CAD packages. Also many teachers are not skilled enough to meet these demands. Learning a complex CAD package can take years and sometimes we only have hours to familiarise ourselves with new technology before we have to teach it. So where is the answer to this? Could it be ‘Project Shapeshifter’ hosted by Autodesk.

Project Shapeshifter is the ability to create complex CAD models with the ease of simply dragging a slider bar. Templates are provided and you simply customise to your liking. The ease of use is fantastic and leaves you wanting more and more. Students in school ask ‘sir do you play COD, aka Call of Duty’. I respond with, ‘no I play Project Shapeshifter’ and tell them to Google it. I have had hours of fun with this programme and have created models that I have 3Dprinted that is far above my level of CAD modelling skills. Could this be the revolution that CAD modelling needs to bring 3Dprinting to the mainstream. Complete accessibility to create complex models with no CAD skills…. sounds too good to be true! Look at the evidence yourself below. There is a growing community of thingiverse modellers that are uploading their designs created on shapeshifter (see the screen shot below) so the word is spreading. Also, here is one I printed myself.  I needed a night light for some nice ambiance, shapeshifter delivered all the way! The best thing is this design is unique to me and created by me and no one else has this.

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Click the link below for an adventure of a 3Dprint lifetime! Get on it before the end of April as it is only running for a short trial.