Oct 27, 2015 | By Alec

Though 3D printing is slowly but steadily entering different aspects of production, creation and even daily life, there is one region that is still woefully falling behind: education. We here at 3ders.org and many teachers and specialists throughout the world have repeatedly called for 3D printing to be incorporated into curriculums, but we know that it’s easier said than done due to costs and steep learning curves involved. Fortunately, a number of initiatives are working hard to change that, and we are pleased to share a preview of the latest among them with our readers. It’s called TheMotionKit, and is being developed by a startup with the same name. In essence, it’s a low-cost and very accessible kit that breaks down the CNC principles behind all making processes like 3D printing and laser cutting and helps users of all ages build and understand a CNC machine.

The team behind this potentially very useful kit is operating out of Mountain View, California, as their Chloe Bauer explains, it is essentially a LEGO-like DIY kit and virtual classroom in one. They are planning to take it to Kickstarter in early November, but were happy to give us a quick peek at what’s coming.

As they explain, their kit breaks computerized numerical control (CNC), the process behind all desktop making machines, down into understandable and customizable pieces. ‘CNC is the process which allows computers to precisely drive motion in a variety of applications like 3D printing, milling, and laser engraving.  It's one of the driving elements in the maker movement.  To date, there are thousands of resources on motion — hardware, software, and firmware — but they require a certain level of prerequisite knowledge and aren't all-encompassing,’ they explain. TheMotionKit, fortunately, breaks all of this down into an educational process, ‘allowing beginners to grasp motion, makers to learn the depths of CNC, and advanced users access to a dedicated and developed platform for building.’ In time, the machine grows into a making machine like a laser cutter, or even a 3D printer.

This fantastic educational kit was developed as a combination between the complex hardware and educational processes to make it more understandable and fun to everyone and people of all ages. As such, it contains everything you need to build and understand functional CNC setup, but in such a way that even a bunch of teenagers can work with it. And to make it accessible, they have developed a very interesting element: the 3D printed Motion Blocks, essentially pieces of modular hardware that can fulfil a number of roles on a CNC machine. ‘Each face of the Motion Block serves a different purpose — conveniently packed into a small form factor; allowing the builder to focus on understanding the complexities of motion in a simpler, elegant way,’ they say. Conveniently, these 3D printed blocks also gives the machine a cool, futuristic look. The full kit includes:

  • 7 Motion Blocks
  • 6 Timing Pulleys
  • 3 Stepper Motors
  • 3 Timing Belts
  • 4 Linear Rails
  • 4 Bearings
  • 2 Mechanical Endstops
  • 2 Stepper Drivers
  • 1 Microcontroller
  • 1 USB Cable
  • 1 Breadboard
  • Assorted Wires & Hardware
  • License to Virtual Classroom
  • Instructions Manual

And to help students of all ages assemble and program the machine, TheMotionKit will come with THE CLASSROOM; a virtual course that takes you through all the steps. ‘The classroom simply and elegantly explains every aspect of motion including electronics circuitry and coding. Using layman's terms, the classroom not only teaches how motion works but why it works — allowing the user to truly grasp and implement the lesson,’ they say. That makes the kit accessible for even the most unexperienced beginners.

Really, the only problem with this promising kit is that it isn’t available yet. To finance production, the team is turning to Kickstarter – with the crowdfunding campaign expected to go live on 7 November 2015. Hoping to gather $50,000 in pledges, the early bird kits will be priced at just $179. For more information, you can already check out the team’s website here.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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