“Robox is an amazing tool for learning. In my studies, it has allowed me to bring my ideas and concepts into the physical world. Producing something traditionally which is as complex or intricate as what can be produced using a 3D printer, would require years of training on professional tools or be impossible to be produced as a single object. This obviously would be an impossibility for a student who wants to envision their ideas into reality. As a student myself, I do not have the skills or knowledge to use high level manufacturing equipment, but have unique ideas. By removing the complexities of the production process, it allows multiple ideas to be produced with ease.
“The innovative design of the Robox 3D printer allows easy to load materials, again, reducing the complexity of the production process. Its simple UI offers ease of use to both new and experienced users with the advanced functionality. My favourite feature is the heated bed, this allows printing to start up almost immediately, and not require bed preparation; which is the case for many 3D printers.
“Robox allows people like myself, to be able to envision our ideas, and make them reality. By having physical objects, we learn from mistakes in design, and gain a more practised knowledge of design. Robox is essentially a workshop in a box.”
We’re delighted to see Robox taking pride of place in Technology Supplies’ new 2016-2017 Design & Technology Catalogue as the first product in the CAD/CAM section. Having been awarded the #1 position in a section including 26 other 3D printers, and with over 7k printed catalogues now in circulation, we’d like to thank the team at Technology Supplies for playing their part in helping to make Robox the leading 3D printer for education.
For over 30 years Technology Supplies has been supplying innovative Design and Technology products, services and solutions to over 17,000 educators worldwide. They are a leading supplier for 4,275 UK secondary schools but also cater to primary and higher education.
Blackfield Primary School
Year 6 pupils use Robox to learn about insect anatomy.
St Andrew's Primary School
East Ayrshire's STEM Coordinator, Martyn Hendry, takes Year 5 pupils through designing custom name tags using Autodesk's free, browser-based Tinkercad software.
Working in partnership with the James Dyson Foundation
Gears are 3D printed on Robox in a Year 10 James Dyson Foundation project.
Aiding inclusive design
A Year 11 student demonstrates her GCSE James Dyson Foundation project aimed at aiding people who experience difficulty grasping objects.
Complexity made simple
Robox now supports both single and dual extruders with its new dual material upgrade module, allowing even more complex geometries to be printed with ease.
Inspiring a new generation
A Year 4 class in Blackfield Primary School uses Tinkercad and Robox to create stationery organisers for a school project.
Mendip Studio School
Year 11 students discuss their GCSE projects.
A student upgrades his A-Level project with Robox.
Safety and Security
Robox is the only 3D printer with an interlocking safety door to prevent accidental injury.
FAWE School, Rwanda
Students from Writhlington School provide 3D printer workshops to Rwandan students.
Robox began to make real inroads into key markets last year following the success of our Kickstarter campaign. The desktop 3D printer market has grown strongly and matured since the first commercial Robox units went on sale in December 2014 and I’d like to share some of the valuable insights we’ve gained into how 3D printers are being used today. This is the first in a series of blog posts I’ll be writing on the subject and my inaugural post will be focusing on the education sector.
As CEL’s Robox sales manager, I can be found either in our head office near Bristol, which is packed full of 3D printers and some of the latest Robox tech being developed by our R&D team, or travelling the country supporting our resellers and their customers. As 2015 progressed, I found myself visiting schools using Robox more and more frequently, talking to teachers and students about 3D printers and learning about the innovative ways many schools use Robox in the classroom.
Robox’s success in the education sector follows two projects in recent years funded by the Department for Education (DfE) to identify good uses for 3D printers in schools. In 2012-13, 21 schools were asked to explore innovative ways of using the technology to help with teaching complex scientific and mathematical ideas. Feedback from this project confirmed that 3D printers have significant potential as a teaching resource and, as a result, the DfE funded a more detailed project in 2014-15 exploring how 3D printers can be used to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching. While still highly encouraging, the results of this more in-depth study highlighted the degree to which positive impact on pupil engagement and understanding relies on 3D printers being used in lessons in effective and meaningful ways.
3D printers are almost exclusively used in design & technology (D&T) departments in secondary schools because they’re naturally a great fit for the subject, helping to break down barriers between designing and manufacturing, inspire young people to invent and think creatively. Although there will be opportunities in the future for 3D printers to be used in other departments such as geography and history – to create 3D maps and recreate historical artefacts, for example – the benefits of the technology are seen most acutely in classrooms with D&T teachers that are confident using new technology and combine elements of science, technology, engineering and maths in their lessons.
We work with the James Dyson Foundation to promote STEM in schools and our partner schools have done an excellent job integrating Robox into their curricula to enhance teaching in these subjects. They increasingly see Robox not only as a valuable learning tool, but as a means of exciting students and engaging them more effectively with STEM subjects.
The new National Curriculum for D&T, which has been updated for first teaching in 2017, places a strong emphasis on the use of cutting-edge equipment to inform pupils’ understanding of industry and provides ample opportunity for students to learn about 3D printing.
Part of the reason Robox is proving so successful in schools is because it’s the only desktop 3D printer with an interlocking safety door, making it the safest option for use around children. It’s also compact and a number of schools using Robox are taking advantage of its form factor to benefit from the dramatically increased capacity and speed enabled by the use of multiple units at the same time. Robox’s cost-effectiveness, both in terms of initial investment and ongoing material costs, plays a critical role in making it a feasible option for schools considering such an investment in building their 3D printing capacity.
As schools decide which technology in their classrooms to procure and how best to spend their overall budgets, the ownership costs of any new technology over its lifetime should be considered carefully. Even if a school were to use only three 3D printers (some schools are using as many as 10 Roboxes), it would stand to make significant savings with Robox to the tune of £thousands while also benefiting from the platform’s enhanced safety features, accessibility and professional quality.
Although other 3D printers may at first glance appear to be better value for money – boasting either a lower RRP or cheaper filament – when both initial and ongoing costs are taken into account Robox always comes out on top (the chart above doesn’t even take into account that, unlike the vast majority of 3D printers, Robox doesn’t lock users into using specific consumables à la HP in the 2D printer world).
We’re really excited to be having such a positive impact in schools around the country with Robox and in partnership with the James Dyson Foundation. If you’d like to learn more about Robox or what we’re doing, or if you have any comments, please feel free to get in touch.
Note: 3D printer unit costs based on on MSRP. PLA filament costs obtained from manufacturer websites or recommended reseller websites if manufacturer does not sell directly to customers in the UK. All costs correct at time of writing on 20 April, 2016.
“Sir, is that a 3D printer?” I enquired, “Yes Al, let’s unpack it and see if we can get it working. Are you free after school?” That was the start of it. We took the Robox out of its packaging followed the quick start-up guide and 3D printed our first ever product in under an hour. The product itself was a very small pyramid from the sample files but it was a very definite, very successful start. I’m liking this already!
Like most D&T departments in state schools, the acquiring and implementation of new technologies and equipment is something that has to be carefully managed and justified in budgets. One of the first markers for whether a piece of equipment is worthwhile is the question of impact. On Open Evening Al chose to run the Robox for 4 hours producing a much larger and more complex model. The interest from prospective students, current students, parents and staff was incredible. The feedback sheets from the evening consistently noted two amazing things seen at Open Evening; the brand new sports hall and the 3D printer in D&T.
Stage one, impact, tick!
“Stage two Sir?”, “Yes Al, stage two”. Can I use it in class as a useful piece of equipment in the Product Design students’ tool box? The department already has a small laser cutter and a vinyl cutter that are used relentlessly. In order to test this out Mr Nicholson ‘gave me the keys’ to take it for a proper spin, designing and making. I’m on the AS D&T Graphic Products course and I’m at the design stage of a project to design and model an ‘outdoor’ classroom to be set in the school grounds. I downloaded a free copy of Autodesk-123D and set about the scale model. The bed of the Robox is about A5 and my card model was considerably bigger. The 3D print would be too small if I made it fit the bed so I chose to use the 100mm Z axis and the A5 bed as a start point. I split the model into 8 pieces, 6 of which were doubles (keeping the design modular really helps when you’re using CAM!). I ran the Robox all day and overnight, carefully removing the pieces from the machine’s bed. I used a 10% infill for the blocks so that they would be rigid but not use up too much of the PLA filament. I could stick them together to form the completed model but it’s more useful at the moment for me to have them in smaller blocks so that they fit in my school bag!
I’m not used to D&T being quite this straightforward!
At the point where a number of schools were considering the future of their D&T departments, for financial reasons, Ashlyns were determined to keep the breadth of curriculum and the enrichment that D&T offers. The subject was allied into a Faculty structure with Computer Science and Business Studies. The cross-linking between these three quite different subjects is growing by the day and at its heart is creativity and enterprise, ably assisted of course by control technology, software and CAM. The Faculty’s results have gone from strength to strength as the interest builds and the ‘newer’ technologies are introduced and take their place alongside the traditional. I use the word ‘alongside’ for various reasons. Can I afford a whole class of 3D printers? Would I want to? The answer to both is no. Firstly, I could have bought 10 Robox machines for the price I paid for the laser cutter but then students make so much use of the laser cutter, so quickly and with such a variety of materials. Secondly, every new piece of technology adds another dimension to the subject and doesn’t need to replace anything, older methods often employ a more appropriate level of technology.
However, ask me the question “Would I like more Robox machines in my classrooms?” the answer would be 100% “Yes!”
Most D&T A’ Level courses still have a 50% restriction on how much of the final work can be manufactured using CAD/CAM. Possibly to make sure that traditional skills are still developed or to enable a more level playing field for students from different socio-economic backgrounds, the restrictions are there and may well still be there after the introduction of the new specifications. Has that stopped us from using other forms of CAD/CAM in the past? Of course not, life without the laser cutter doesn’t bear thinking about and as the necessity to increase the students’ exposure to newer technologies for example through the NC 2014 it will need to become part and parcel of what we do. With the NC 2014 in mind, the opportunities to develop some designs based on biomimicry is next on my list!
Before getting the Robox I used to trot out a number of reasons why the department wouldn’t need a 3D printer, mainly based around speed, size restriction, cost but the truth is that you just need to be a bit creative with how it gets used and as always the D&T community is full of ideas and ways forward. The following are a few that have sprung to mind. Firstly, everyone designs and then the class vote for which one gets made (and sometimes those still interested can come back at lunchtime or after school to get theirs made!). Secondly, smaller multiple designs that can fit on the same machine bed. Thirdly, increase the number of machines. I already have systems in place to help replace cookers and sewing machines so I just need to add them to the list and buy half-a-machine per year (or ask the school association!). Lastly, the Robox is a very portable machine and has already been at home with me.
The rapid set-up and zero clamping means that the files just need to be left to get on with manufacturing!
It has to be said that the efficiency of the material consumed is financially useful and the outcomes even on draft resolution are easily enough to portray the detail required. With new materials coming online, that go beyond the already available plethora of colours, such as rubber and dissolvable media, the future is brightly coloured and very flexible!
“We’ve been using our CEL Robox for about a month now and in that short space of time children as young as 8 have been able to design, create and print 3D models from their own imaginations. The AutoMaker software supplied with the printer is clear and simple to operate with the time of print, price and weight a fantastic feature for education settings. The children have got to grips with it so quickly and can now work independently on their designs. All of this combined with hardware that’s incredibly safe and user-friendly to operate, the CEL Robox is exactly what our academy needs to take our Design and Technology to the next level.”
Congratulations to the Aurora team for 2nd place with a very ambitious (and successful) design which went way beyond the requirements set for the challenge. The team, consisting of 4 students aged 17 (S6), used a huge range of skills to design and develop their competition entry with prototypes and the final design printed on their Robox 3D printer.
Some details about the team from their excellent website www.aurorasat.space
Who are we?
We are a CanSat 2016 team from Glasgow, Scotland. The team consists of four pupils from Hutchesons’ Grammar School. Our supervising teacher is Dr Walker, and our sponsors are Pulsion Technology and CEL Robox.
What is CanSat?
A CanSat is a simulation of a real satellite, integrated within the volume and shape of a soft drink can. The challenge for the students is to fit all the major subsystems found in a satellite, such as power, sensors and a communication system, into this minimal volume. The CanSat is then launched to an altitude of a few hundred metres by a rocket or dropped from a platform or captive balloon and its mission begins: to carry out a scientific experiment and achieve a safe landing.
Why do it?
CanSats offer a unique opportunity for students to have a first practical experience of a real space project. They are responsible for all aspects: selecting the mission objectives, designing the CanSat, integrating the components, testing, preparing for launch and then analysing the data.
Measure air pressure and temperature. Minimum 1 result per second transmitted to ground control/computer.
• Our can will split into two parts, and will land in two different areas on the ground.
• The can will split horizontally; the top part will land using a parafoil to glide to the ground, and the bottom part will land using a quadcopter-like motor/propeller system to navigate to the ground.
• The aim of the mission is to successfully demonstrate the splitting of the can, demonstrate two different landing systems and demonstrate the prospect of comparing two separate sites on one mission.
Optional – Targeted landing to both sites using high accuracy GPS and autonomous movement.
Optional – Rover on ground to pick up two capsules and return them to team base.
Optional – Implement camera to capture splitting of cans.
Small space to fit 2 satellites. Designing a modular system to access parts easily and still retain a strong structure was challenging.
New pyboard with very little online guidance or information, we had to program and wire everything based on our own knowledge.
Brushless motors and ESC’s are fiddly to set up and get going.
Designing and constructing a stable Para-foil.
Programming in a new language and programming electronics and understanding how they function together.
Learning how to use inventor and rendering the simulations of the satellite.
Using a 3D printer, learning how different plastics behave and how best to print small scale intricate models.
CAD software used:
Autodesk Inventor Professional 2016
Other software / programming tools used:
Command Line Tools
Robox made the following possible:
Printing of our satellite using ABS and PLA plastic. The Robox support team helped us to with recommendations and settings to ensure each part was accurately printed.
Other resources used:
Technology department supplied the majority of the equipment used, including soldering irons, hobby drills, glue guns, desktops.
Our other sponsor Pulsion supplied us with the £500 budget we had to stick to.
Physics department supplied digital callipers and high accuracy balances.
The Robox 3D printer we have was purchased by 3 of our Arkwright Scholars and is kept in the Technology department for students to use on request.
The Scalextrics club, which is aimed at younger years, design and build model rc cars. They have already printed one model.
The Formula 1 club also uses the 3D printer.
The printer will be used for further competitions. (possibly the Google science fair or other independent projects)
A link to the competition website:
A note from the team leader:
I would like to thank you once again for not only sponsoring us and helping us when we had problems using the 3D printer but also for your kind words throughout. You have motivated us and kept us going when certain aspects of our project didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to. Your quick and informative responses have aided us greatly. – Rishabh
Custom electronics, in house at very low cost. Design, prototype, testing, client approval all within a day.
Read more about why Robox was chosen in this blog.
[image from www.successful.com.au]
An excellent resource and introduction to the BBC micro:bit by our partners Kitronik
See the article here: https://www.kitronik.co.uk/blog/bbc-microbit-cad-resources/
This Kitronik University resource is part of the BBC micro:bit partnership and features FREE downloadable CAD files in relation to the BBC micro:bit. These downloadable files are available in three different formats and have been made using Autodesk’s Inventor Professional.
The BBC micro:bit CAD Files
The team here at Kitronik have created a CAD model of the BBC micro:bit. We will be using this model to produce many of the resources we will be creating for the BBC micro:bit. We’re sure these models will be useful for lots of applications so we are making them available completely free of charge, as we feel this maintains the spirit of what the BBC are trying to achieve with the BBC micro:bit project.
Students and teachers (and home users) alike are sure to find them a fantastic starting point for projects based around the BBB micro:bit.
The files are available in the following formats (see bottom of page for download links):
- .iam (Autodesk Inventor)
- .stl (which can be used in most CAD programs and for 3D printers)
This render was created using Autodesk Inventor Professional and shows the kind of images the files could be used to create.
Autodesk – FREE Educational Design Software
Clearly to use these files you will need some CAD software. Autodesk provide their professional software free of charge to Education and Home user which makes it an ideal choice.
Autodesk gave the following reason for providing such easy access to it’s products:
‘Closing the skills gap starts in education. Autodesk are tackling this by providing schools with common access to the same advanced technology being used by industry professionals today. Autodesk provides schools, students and teachers with free access to its professional 3D design software. This will enable educators to introduce design thinking into our classrooms allowing students to imagine, design and create a better world. Using these tools to learn how to solve real-world challenges in new creative ways will be the perfect preparation for our the next-generation workforce. Equipping them with 21st century skills to meet industry demands and advance economies worldwide.’
You can get a number of Autodesk software products for free, for both educational institutions and home use, check here for more information.
The above images are renders of the CAD files using Autodesk 3DS Max and Autodesk 360
How Kitronik Are Using The Design
We’re using this design to create a few resources which we thought you’d find useful.
One example is this cool poster highlighting the features of the BBC micro:bit (A4 download available below):
Another is this useful mechanical datasheet (download available below):
Using The Files When Creating 3D Printed Case Designs
Having the BBC micro:bit as a CAD object is incredibly useful when creating 3D printable (or laser cut-able) case designs. It means you can create your design with the knowledge that when you come to manufacturer the final design the BBC micro:bit should fit perfectly!
An example use of this would be when designing a case, like this one designed by Chris Elsworthy from CEL Robox to create this great 3D printed case design.
Having the renders available makes this job much easier, and ensures an accurate result. We will also be using the files in our own models and case designs.
- .iam file (AutoDesk Inventor Professional – Zipped).
- .stl file (Outside shell only – For 3D Printing – Zipped).
- .sat file (3D ACIS Modeler – Zipped).
- Mechanical datasheet.
You can see the full BBC micro:bit – Kitronik University Course here.
3D printing made easy, Automated calibration, Low maintenance, Wide range of materials, Fast heat up, Unique safety features, Intuitive software, British design backed up by a 2 Year Warranty