Course Prospectus

Here’s the basic idea.

We start out with a local group here in Austin, Texas, and other people we know in Dallas and Houston. There would be an initial session to lay out what we’re going to do (all online meetings would be via Zoom). Initially we would be looking for people we already know via school and organiztion mailing lists and Facebook groups.

Wait, you say, what people? Who is this for? It’s aimed at middle- and high-school aged people but open to parents or siblings. We want to keep it to people we know and registration will require signing an agreement and stating your actual address and age.

The cost of the course would be a voluntary contribution based on what it’s worth to you, so there would be no obligation to pay up front. If you choose to participate we expect you to purchase or have available the things you need.

What would you need?

  1. A reasonably up to date computer (Windows, Mac, Linux all supported as long as you can run Zoom; at least 8gb memory recommended). A 3-button mouse with a scroll wheel is required for the design part – you can’t really do it easily with a touchpad. You’ll also need a webcam and microphone for help with assembly.
  2. A 3D printer. We recommend the Creality Ender 3 Pro which is less than $300 on Amazon. See the Shopping List page for details.
  3. You need to understand the metric system (kg, g, mm, etc)
  4. Ultimaker Cura 4.6.1 or later (free download)
  5. FreeCAD 0.18 or later (free download)

Optional things you can get (also on the Shopping List page):

  1. Raspberry Pi 3 ($45)
  2. Raspberry Pi 3 power supply ($10)
  3. 8gb or greater micro-SD card for Raspberry Pi 3 ($7 or so)
  4. Spools of 1.75mm PLA filament. There are many sources for this and we’ve had some good experience recently with some brands, but expect to pay around $22 – $30 for a 1kg spool. There’s a small amount of white filament (about 100g) that comes with the Ender 3 Pro.
  5. Metric tape measure and/or ruler
  6. Digital calipers which can read metric ($22 at Harbor Freight or on Amazon)

The sessions would be once a week, schedule TBD (but most likely evening or weekend). Sessions would take place via Zoom but would be recorded and made available on YouTube in case you miss a session. The sessions will be interactive with the opportunity to ask questions via chat.

Here’s a rough outline of how that might go:

Intro session (30 minutes) – questions and answers about the program and how to sign up (although this would be free with a voluntary contribution we would still need to confirm your information). Once you sign up you’ll also be able to post questions to an online forum.

After signing up the sessions would start and run something like this:

Session 1: Introduction to 3D printing (45 minutes)
Various types of 3D printing
How FDM printing works
Software and hardware used for 3D printing
Planning your space for 3D printing
Preparing to purchase a 3D printer and what you’ll need for assembly

Session 2: Help with assembly (45-60 minutes)
This would be where we go through issues you run into assembling the printer. We’ll focus on the Ender 3 Pro but will try to help with others. This will be just mechanical assembly, getting to the point where you can turn the printer on. You might skip this if you already have a printer.

Session 3: First print (45 minutes)
Downloading objects to print
Slicing objects to prepare for printing
Basic slicer settings using Cura
Loading filament
Starting the print job
Removing the finished object

Session 4: Designing your own (45 minutes)

Session 5: My first design with FreeCAD (45 minutes)
Creating sketches
Pad, pocket, revolution
Combining parts
Exporting to slicer

Session 6: Multi-part design with FreeCAD

Session 7: More FreeCAD – lofting, pipes and lettering

Session 8: A little Blender

Session 9: TBD