Feb 17, 2016 | By Benedict

Buildclass is offering courses showing students how to build a DIY 3D printer from 200+ parts. The two-day course and 3D printer kit costs $1,600 and includes all necessary components for an FFF or syringe FDM 3D printer. Johns Hopkins University recently took part in the program.

Baltimore-based 3D printing specialist Buildclass is the brainchild of Evan Roche and Harrison Tyler, Entrepreneurs in Residence at Maryland Institute College of Art. Their Buildclass program promises “an intensive introduction to digital fabrication in which participants build their own 3D printer from the ground up over the course of two days”.

During the course, students have the opportunity to build their own FFF or syringe FDM 3D printer. Each DIY 3D printer can have a build volume of 100x100x100mm or 200x200x200mm, boasting a Z resolution of 100 µm and an X/Y resolution of 300 µm (FFF). Machines can be equipped for printing in plastics (PLA, ABS, PCLA); pastes and biomaterials; or both, thanks to easily swappable magnetic mounting plates.

Wannabe printer manufacturers can get a taste of 3D printer building through the two-day Buildclass course. Johns Hopkins University recently requested this service, which proved a big success with participants. Roche and Tyler conducted the intensive workshop at JHU themselves, cutting and packaging the 200+ parts for each 3D printer kit. During the two-day course, students were taught how to assemble, wire, and program their own 3D printer, which they took home afterwards.

Ryan Demo, a JHU sophomore, was one of six students to sign up for the course, and told the university’s HUB magazine about his experience: "Building a 3D printer is a lot like assembling Ikea furniture,” Demo said. "It's better than buying a 3D printer. This way you learn how the entire thing works from the ground up. We did the physical structure of the printer, we did the wiring, we could see the software, and we learned the computer side of things where you prepare the 3D file and it comes to the printer.”

The Buildclass JHU sessions took place at the university’s MakerSpace, located in the Digital Media Center, where each of the six students assembled their own 3D printer frame from high-density polyethylene (cutting board), before soldering wires and connecting all the mechanical components needed for the 3D printer to function. These components included an Ultimachine RAMBo 1.3 3D printer motherboard with integrated ATmega2560 microcontroller, precision linear shafts, and Nema 17 stepper motors.

The students each had their own unique motivations for building a DIY 3D printer. After the course, Demo 3D printed a camera mount for his DSLR; Joey Lubin, a master's student in chemical and bimolecular engineering, planned to print ornate edible treats for his sister's wedding; while another unnamed student planned to 3D print a plastic part for his '67 Ford Mustang.

Brian Iglehart, a staff member at JHU's School of Medicine, also participated in the class, eventually using his 3D printer to print automation parts for his laboratory. The laboratory manager commented: "3D printing in the past was made for trinkets, but now were getting into 'what can we really do with that?’”

The JHU class was what Roche and Tyler call a “Multi-build” course: one in which each participant builds their own 3D printer. However, Buildclass also offers a “Team-build” course, in which several participants collaborate to build a single machine.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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