Jan 14, 2015 | By Simon

Although we've been seeing a lot of 3D printing projects that center around using an Arduino, Raspberry Pi or other microcontroller to make otherwise static 3D objects become more interactive, we rarely see projects that aim to replace existing objects with more professional software and hardware considerations - simply put, they are likely used as prototypes and are already in production.

As the cost of going to school continues to increase - thanks to everything from rising tuition costs to textbooks and required tools/supplies - any break that can help students is definitely welcomed with open arms. The price for a scientific calculator alone can skyrocket to well over $100... and that's separate from a textbook that's likely to cost just as much or even more that the student is expected to use it with.

Aiming to help solve the problem of having to purchase a scientific calculator for mathematics classes, Piere Parent and Ael Gain, two recent French graduates who studied computer science and mathematics, have developed a solution for easing the bite that scientific calculators can take out of a poor student's wallet.

Their open software, open hardware 'LibreCalc' uses software that is programmed in Python and a body that is 3D printed with free and included STL files.

"We aim to make a scientific calculator, fully usable, with good ergonomic, which will be fully free software and open hardware," said Parent and Gain on the LibreCalc website.

"This calculator will need to have all the capacities of calculators that are currently on the market. In particular it will have to include computer algebra system. Calculators are sometimes the first tool young people use to learn programming. We don't want that their curiosity be discouraged because manufacturers closes their products."

In staying true to keeping things free and using free tools throughout their entire process, Parent and Gain used the open source parametric modeler FreeCAD to create the body of the 3D printable calculator.

The team recently announced some updates to their design including:

  • 128 MB of Ram
  • A prettier casing
  • More usable keyboard (still improvements to come, notably on the directional pad of course! :).
  • Complete autonomy (It is possible to boot the prototype anywhere, without any external cable, computer, or power supply) . By the way boot time to calculation interface is currently under 8 seconds we are still working on optimizations.
  • Software improvements (Menu, Python, Computer Algebra)

Currently, all of the necessary files required to create the LibreCalc are available on the LibreCalc website, however the team is planning on possibly selling pre-made versions if they are able to gather enough interest. They are also working on an Arduino accessory and game development including the ability to play Pokemon on the device.

"We are going to sell those calculators, and other products (kits, accessories), as long as the public shows enough interest for that," they said.

Whether you plan on either building your own or purchasing a pre-assembled calculator from them or not, it's hard to not appreciate any effort towards bringing the cost of expensive school supplies down... and with 3D printing, no less.



Posted in 3D Printing Materials


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