In early 2016, we founded STEAM Studio in Wexford, PA, as a place to teach kids STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) concepts with hands on projects and experiments.
From the beginning, we wanted 3D Printing to be a big part of our curriculum and projects. 3D Printing gets kids excited about engineering because of the hands on nature of having to design, print and take home cool objects.
With the help of the founders of 3DPPGH, Ryan Priore and Chris Yohe, our printer farm started with a single Monoprice Architect, and then added 3 Monoprice Select Minis, and a Folgertech Kossel 2020.
As the printers started to pour in, it became clear that keeping all of them printing was going to be a big problem. The kids LOVED watching the printers work, and were always asking ‘Did you print mine? Did you print mine?”, so we had a pretty demanding audience to deal with.
Slicing models, copying on SD cards, and manually keeping track of everything was quickly becoming a big pain in the neck – especially with a small mob of excited humans.
This is where AstroPrint came to the rescue! As soon as we hooked it up, it was a night and day difference.
- After installing a camera, we were able to monitor prints remotely from home… to make sure they weren’t turning into a big blob of PLA spaghetti.
- We could print out the same model many times (through the Print History feature) or easily re-slice the design file and print it on any available printer.
- One of us could take prints off the printer, and the other could remotely start new prints from home.
This was great, but it got even better when we discovered that AstroPrint could print models from Thingiverse using the built in Thingiverse app!
We finally had a way to go from model creation to print WITHOUT needing to save/upload to a local machine.
During the summer, we held 3 x week long 3D Printing camps (each with 12 kids). Every day each student created several models to be printed.
Without AstroPrint, keeping all of the printers busy would be an absolute nightmare. With AstroPrint, we had every student’s design file(s) ready to print the following day.