3D Printing weekend at South Hill Park

It’s hard to believe that it has been over a month since our eagerly awaited “Introduction to 3D Printing” weekend at South Hill Park, and we’re still basking in the after-glow of a successful event (if I may say so myself).

The excitement began with the preparation when in the week before the event we were down to zero working printers. The Sanguinololu electronics on our trusty old workhorse Prusa had given up the ghost yet again with the heated bed, and the second machine (the TVRRUG demo) was yet to be calibrated. Fixing the Sanguinololu took us down to the wire, which left the Saturday morning while 3D masterpieces were being designed for me to get the second machine up and running.

And masterpieces there were. Riette Hayes-Davies did a fantastic job of teaching SketchUp basics and before long inspired minds were working away. The course participants had varied backgrounds, from a Design and Technology teacher wanting to persuade his head to buy a 3D printer, to artists developing exhibition pieces, to a hobbyist making moulds for making glass stars, which was a real treat and challenge for us. Their ideas were really creative and tore up our design guidelines, stretching to the limits and beyond the boundaries of what we could feasibly print, with mixed results. Some of the most interesting parts of the weekend were learning about the back-story of the designs and the course participants themselves.

We turned into a bit of an attraction over the Sunday lunchtime when some of the designs were printing out, and yet again 3D printing captured the imaginations of all present. Contact microphones made in previous courses at South Hill Park were whipped out, the event organiser Martin Franklin interviewed us for a podcast (my very first!) and created a wonderful video. The local newspaper even turned up to do an article.

Lessons learnt from the event include needing to introduce a stricter limit to model sizes, to find a way to speed up the model to GCode conversion process and possibly provide some pre-course material for those eager beavers. We hope to take these lessons forward with us into future similar events, with another session at South Hill Park hopefully in the autumn.

Thanks again to Riette for her SketchUp fu, Martin Franklin for organising the event and South Hill Park for hosting it. South Hill Park is a Grade II listed building with estate, making quite a difference from our usual pub haunts so far. We weren’t too far out of our comfort zone though, as it also boasts a lovely bar with terrace. I can recommend the chocolate cake!

For more photos, the podcast and a PDF download of the course handout created by Riette, visit the Digital Media Centre Event Page.

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