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  1. #1

    Question Help selecting a really good 3D printer for a middle school?

    My grandkids are in a small private middle school. They do not have a 3D printer, but would like one. I would appreciate recommendations for a really good printer that would be appropriate for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students and their teachers. I am willing to spend upwards of $1,000 or more for something that is large enough to be useful and is reliable and easy to use. I am new here. I hope this was posted in the right forum. If not, please move it. Thanks

  2. #2
    Staff Engineer
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    People might consider me to be a Prusa fanboy, but my experience is a few years old. The local public library purchased without advisories a Cube 3 printer. At the start, it was a pretty good choice, but things fell apart pretty quickly. Suffice it to say that you'll want to avoid the now-orphaned Cube 3 at all costs.

    During the transition time, there were few options available, one of which was the Prusa MK3, followed by the variants, MK3s, MK3s+ and now the MK4 series.

    Keeping in mind that a public library can be a somewhat unregulated environment, we (makerspace group and library makerspace managers) discovered that the combination of Prusa Slicer and a Prusa printer was a fabulous combination. We elected to purchase the kit, because there's a lot to learn from the building process, which later made for easy fixes on things such as stuck filament, or curiously enough, a temperature problem when printing small items directly over the heated bed thermistor.

    The printer would still be running strong, except for the makerspace changing management within the library structure and the new hire being about as ham-fisted as one could imagine, totally destroying the machine!

    Some of the users of the printer were of the age group you specify, others were high school age and young adults, plus a few mature versions.

    The interests ranged from being involved in the assembly, to finding items to print, to learning modeling software for creating one's own builds. For starter model makers, TinkerCAD is a good choice, easy to learn, web based and free. For those students with an interest in model creation but also in the world of coding/programming, OpenSCAD is a great introduction to the combination. The advanced creators may want to explore Fusion 360, available as a free hobbyist license after a 30 day "mandatory" trial period, but you have to really search for it.

    If you choose the assembly route, do not depend on the fairly comprehensive printed manual which ships with the printer. Find the web site and be certain to read all the suggestions and comments, as many of them prevent problems that may not appear until later in the build. Also note that Prusa ships a bag of Haribo gummy bears with the product and the person who opens the box should be prepared for what that represents in a crowd of walking digestive systems.

    I think your choice of forum is suitable and if you care to post your progress and any forthcoming questions, it should be an enjoyable exchange for all readers.

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