Matthew Brown is an S2TEM Instructor at the Warren Tech and Lakewood High School in Golden, Colorado. The Jefferson County School District, US was the first one to have a 3D printer back in 2007.
In the beginning, having just one 3D printer was easy to manage and supervise projects. But things quickly evolved and the school began to offer additive manufacturing classes to their programs. Of course, more 3D printers were required. The school has now a range of printers including Objet30 Pro and a Stratasys F170 and F370. And with more 3D printers, a solution for managing the multiple additive manufacturing project requests across the Jefferson County Schools was imperative. And that solution has a name. It’s GrabCAD Shop, a 3D printing software with tremendous benefits.
“GrabCAD Shop has been a godsend in terms of classroom and project management,” Brown explains. “It has made things so much easier to manage in the classroom, since we do a lot of 3D printing.”
The real challenge that existed with other submission processes such as email, Google Docs, or even USB memory sticks, was the lack of monitoring the projects’ orders, leading to longer timelines and a communication channel often obstructed by various delays.
“The pains were many,” Brown says. “Uploading files was just a pain. We had one flash drive that everyone would use but there were always issues. It wasn’t very efficient. It was really hard to keep everything straight, and parts would get misplaced or lost and they wouldn’t get printed.”
“When classes would do projects, it could take up to a month and a half for that project to be completed — and that’s if things go smoothly. Now a class will send us a file, we manage the queue, print it out and get the part ready to send back to them in a week.”
One of the many projects that Matthew remembers being a complete success: “We did a project for the Drama club where we designed and built a full-scale Wurlitzer Jukebox Box on the Stratasys F370 printer and assembled that.”
Teaching students the design process
Because it is a four-year program, Matthew Brown assigned upper-level students who have been enrolled for two years and they are the “lab operators”, in charge of managing the request queue of 3D printing orders.
This way, students not only understand, learn and use the GrabCAD Shop for their additive manufacturing projects but they also become familiar with the lab management mentality. They learn how and what to prioritize, a skill that prepares them for their future jobs.
“They see this as something that’s valuable to them for their future,” Brown explains. “Being able to take this experience when they start applying for jobs or even when they’re looking at engineering schools, they can say things like ‘I’ve managed a print lab, I can come in and manage your lab.’” – Matthew Brown
GrabCAD Shop allows multiple file uploads, printing requests prioritization as well as real-time communication. Students had the possibility to see the notes and additional details helpful for accurate 3D printing such as part orientation. GrabCAD Shop is an essential tool for students athirst to pave their way in the additive manufacturing industry.
“It allows you to monitor what’s happening in your lab at all times, and gives the students the ability to learn,” concludes Matthew Brown. “And I think it’s kind of creating a best practices mindset in their heads before they even get out of school.”