Monday, January 23, 2017

Part 1: My first @desmos 3D print

Our education technology specialist took a job at a local charter school and asked me if I wanted to keep the 3D printer in my classroom. Of course I said yes, and it has been collecting dust in my closet. After seeing this tweet from John Stevens, co-author of the Classroom Chef, I was inspired to do some research and try setting it up.
Mind you, this tweet came after he showed some amazing student work samples. If you follow the link there's a Google doc that is a sample of the student instructions, which I followed.

Instead of a keychain, I figured students could create a name plate using linear equations and anything else they cared to figure out. I came up with my sample graph:
I exported the file after prepping it (John describes the instructions, but it's basically making all equations black, hiding axes and gridlines, and exporting the file as .png file and then converting that to another format to be edited in Tinkercad.

I read all the directions to setup the printer, and started leveling the build plate. To my dismay, I kept running into "Fatal temperature error" and couldn't get past that screen. I need to do some more research to troubleshoot it, and vow to persevere.

In the meantime, I shared my troubles with a class, and one student volunteered that the local library had a 3D printer anyone could use.

I called them and found out that on Mondays and Thursdays I could make a 2 hour appointment from 4 to 6 to get an introduction to 3D printing and use their Ultimaker 3D printer. I went today and learned a lot.

I downloaded my .stl file from my Google Drive and opened it with Cura. After adjusting the letters of my name to be 4 millimeters rather than 4, printing commenced.

One drawback, is that the print is not on a rectangular name plate background. But, the library employee told me next time I could try an embossed look where I could take a rectangular prism and make the name be hollow or an indentation in the prism. That seems like it would look cool too!

Here is the first layer...

And after carefully scraping it off the build plate, I had my name. Any ideas on what type of material to mount it to? probably use some nice glue.

Next steps:

  1. Troubleshoot and fix the school's 3D printer.
  2. Plan time before the end of the year to have students make a rough draft of their name on graph paper, then recreate in desmos.
  3. Final product would be an .stl file. If I was super awesome, I'd print them all. That is a possibility. Worst case scenario: students take the file and do what I did and get it printed at the library.
Any feedback is greatly appreciated. Big thanks to John Stevens for the superb instructions and inspiration.

Part 2 is continued here...


  1. Good luck on troubleshooting the printer. What brand is it? There's a chance that the manufacturer is able to sit in on a hangout with you; most are pretty understanding that it's a learning curve.

    As for the base, I made a sign for my father in-law that I printed using the 3D printer and glued onto a piece of wood. If you wanted to drop the letters into Tinkercad, you can build a rectangular backdrop (if you want, I can get into a Google Hangout with you to go through that).

    As for the printing time, it's going to be nuts. How many students do you have? Your print is going to be pretty big for each student, so you'll need to assume about 1 hour of print time per submission. Maybe have them work in groups? Have the kids create their own and vote on the best ones, then print the top 10? That might provide some incentive to make something really cool.

    Either way, I'm here for you man. Whatever you need, holler.

    1. John: Thanks for your full support in this comment. It's called a CraftBot. Our previous guy bought it on indiegogo. I am corresponding with them about purchasing a possible wiring harness replacement. I think I am going to go with glue also. I will mess around in tinkercad to see if I can get that embossed look before hitting you up if I get stuck. Your offer is much appreciated. I like your voting idea a lot! Plus, they can always go to the library, rent a 2 hour slot, and print their own.