Introduction: 3D Printed Construction Kit Project

Picture of 3D Printed Construction Kit Project

The 3D Printed Construction Kit Project was originally designed by Bill Levien at Seabury Hall in Maui, Hawaii and adapted by Michael Fricano II for his high school Make It 101 course.

During this project students will learn several new skills and tools within our school makerspace including CAD design and 3D printing. The ultimate goal of this project is for students to learn the basics of "productizing" their designs and to make them attractable, and easy to understand and follow. Students will create a Construction Kit by 3D printing modular connectors that will allow customers to create 3D models out of ordinary everyday objects (i.e. pencils, toilet paper rolls, etc.). Student projects will be shared openly online for the world to access, an important aspect of being a Maker. And they will have their construction kit projects tested by younger students in the school or community and will be given feedback for further product development.

The objectives of this project are the following:

  • Learn how to use OnShape to design 2 unique 3D modular connectors
  • Learn how to export OnShape designs as STL files for 3D printing
  • Learn how to set up and run a 3D printer
  • Understand the importance of the prototyping process
  • Create a Construction Kit and have it product tested by younger students

The deliverablesfor this project are:

  • STL files for 2 3D printed modular connectors that will be printed and included in the Construction Kit
  • An Instructions Manual to build one complete model of your choice (to include written instructions and visuals and diagrams. Think lego kit instructions!)
  • A complete Construction Kit that will be delivered to a lower school class for product testing and feedback
  • Upload 3D modular connectors to Thingiverse and "productize" it

The Modular Construction Kit introduction sheet for students is also attached. Feel free to use and tweak for your own project.

Step 1: What Students Will Need

Picture of What Students Will Need

To prepare for the project, students will need to gather a few materials and have access to a couple of tools.

Tools:

Materials:

  • A large box to hold all Construction Kit Materials
  • 1 type of an ordinary everyday material (i.e. straws, paper towel rolls, pencils, CD cases, etc.)

Step 2: How to Assess & Grade This Project

Students have the potential to earn a total of 100 points for this project in my Make It 101 course. The project is divided into 5 assignments and 6 grades:

  • Project Proposal (10 pts) - Create a slideshow presentation and share your ideas and planning for this project.
  • Project Proposal Presentation (15 pts) - Present your project proposal to the rest of the class and elicit feedback, Q&A, and discussion.
  • Final Product (15 pts) - Must have a final product completed (2 3D printed modular connectors, materials fit correctly in the connectors, and satisfies their own project proposal from the beginning)
  • Thingiverse Product (20 pts) - Create a Thingiverse project and "productize" your designs.
  • Construction Kit (20 pts) - Create a completed Construction Kit to include modular connectors & building materials, printed Instruction Manual for 1 model design, parts list with printed modular connector designs, tested with written feedback from potential customers
  • Citizenship (20 pts) - This grade is given at the end of the project based on students overall performance during the entire project process. Considered for a grade is their ability to clean up after themselves, help each other, respect for others, and overall attitude (no rubric is provided for this grade).

The Project Proposal & Presentation are assigned and completed at the very beginning of the project. The Final Product, Thingiverse Product, and Construction Kit are assigned and completed at the very end of the project.

The rubrics for each of these assignments are attached to this step. Feel free to use and tweak these rubrics for your own project.

Step 3: Project Proposal & Presentation

Picture of Project Proposal & Presentation

After students are introduced to the project, they are given time to conduct research on websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo for ideas on how to attract potential buyers and stakeholders and how to "productize" and market themselves. This will be handy for the kit and the Thingiverse project later on. Students also must decide on their everyday material (i.e. pencils, CD cases, straws, etc.)

Project Proposal

Students create a slideshow presentation to "pitch" their project to the rest of the class. The slides must include:

  1. Introduction slide with title and student name
  2. Kickstarter research - what they learned & visuals
  3. Skills - what skills do they hope to learn or improve upon
  4. Project Timeline - set project milestones
  5. Ideas/Concepts - images and/or sketches of modular connector ideas and models

A student proposal sample is attached.

Project Proposal Presentation

Students present their proposal slideshow to the rest of the class. At the end of the presentation the class is free to offer feedback and ask questions. If possible, it would be great if the students could present to other adults on campus or maybe even younger students.

Step 4: OnShape and 3D Printing

Picture of OnShape and 3D Printing

OnShape

Students create a new Onshape Educational Plan account and begin learning OnShape by using their online tutorials complete with videos, building exercises, and quizzes. You can find the online tutorial here. This is a great starting point because it gives students the basics of using OnShape and challenges them to build simple parts in OnShape while practicing what they learned in the videos. If they forget about a tool or a feature, they can easily jump back to a previous video and watch it again. This online tutorial has been enough of a starter so students can design their modular connectors.

3D Printing & Testing

In order to determine correct size and shapes that will fit their everyday material, students go through a prototyping phase. They will create a basic design of their 3D modular connectors and then export them as STL files and send them to the 3D printers. These parts will not be complete designs since they only want to determine if their materials will fit. Students may go through this process multiple times before they find the right fit. It is ideal when using school 3D printers that you teach students how to combine files and 3D print together. Time is valuable and if each student printed separately, it would cause this project to last longer than necessary.

Once students have finalized their modular connectors, they then begin mass producing larger quantities of their parts. The number of parts they 3D print will depend on the final 3D model they decide to create for their construction kit. I also ask students to always print 1 or 2 extra just in case of broken parts, and I ask them to print one of each connector for myself as the teacher so I have examples to share with future classes :D!

Step 5: Construction Kit & Testing

Picture of Construction Kit & Testing

Construction Kit & Testing

One of the final deliverables for this project is for students to create an actual Construction Kit based on their modular connector designs and everyday materials. The kit will be put to the test also! Students in my class visited a 2nd grade class at our school and sat with small groups of 2nd grader product testers. The 2nd graders attempted to follow the instruction manuals while exploring the connectors and materials. The 2nd graders were then asked specific questions about the kits to provide my students valuable feedback for future product enhancements.

The construction kit should include:

  • A box to fit all the materials!
  • 2 uniquely different modular connectors - enough printed to complete the instruction manual model
  • Printed Instruction Manual to build a 3D model with the connectors and materials
  • Ordinary everyday materials - enough to complete the instruction manual model
  • Printed parts list with images of each modular connector

Although we didn't have time for this go around, it would be ideal if the students all designed the outside of the box and maybe even create a company logo!

Step 6: Productize on Thingiverse

Picture of Productize on Thingiverse

Thingiverse

Because this is essentially a 3D printing project, I figured the best place to showcase student work is through Thingiverse. As another deliverable of the project students had to "productize" their modular connectors on Thingiverse. They each created their own MakerBot Thingiverse account and then set up a new Thingiverse project.

The Thingiverse project had to include:

  • A detailed summary their project including an introduction of their construction kit and a reflection of the design process
  • Attached STL files of all of their modular connectors
  • At least 4 pictures of their 3D printed modular connectors
  • At least 4 pictures of their built construction kit model

You can view my students Thingiverse projects here: https://www.thingiverse.com/groups/make-it-101-3d-print-project2017/things

Step 7: The End

Picture of The End

Thank you for taking the time to view this Instructable! Hopefully you will be able to implement this project or something similar into your own school or class! If you do, please let me know how it went by commenting below!

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Comments

PieterVerduijn (author)2017-10-04

I love this project! Definately going to use this in my classroom.

I made another 3D designing project too, it's not in this contest, but in the plastics. I was wondering if you want to take a look at it and give comments of what might be better :-) Thanks!

Fichn1986 (author)2017-09-20

Keep the good work.

MrFricano (author)Fichn19862017-09-21

Thank you, Fichn!

steve12 (author)2017-09-20

Impressive, and really well presented, can I go back to school

MrFricano (author)steve122017-09-21

Thanks, Steve! That's why I'm a teacher now so I can go back to school and create with my students! :D

Swansong (author)2017-09-20

That would be really fun to use for class projects, neat idea!

MrFricano (author)Swansong2017-09-20

Thank you! My students really enjoyed it and the 2nd grader definitely had fun!

About This Instructable

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Bio: Technology Integration Specialist and Make It 101 teacher for 'Iolani School.
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