MakerGear announced a very different kind of 3D printer for students, the Micro 3D Printer Kit.
The Micro is, as its name implies, a small 3D printer. And it’s a kit.
But hold on a second, all of the previous “3D printers for kids” I’ve seen are quite different.
These printers tend to be overly conscious of safety measures. They’ll have enclosures, locking doors, filtration systems and other aspects that should make the buyers (parents or teachers) comfy in that the machine is safe to use. And these machines were inevitably fully assembled.
The MakerGear Micro is none of that.
It’s a kit that students have to build themselves. In fact, many of the structural parts actually require 3D printing.
While other “3D printers for kids” attempt to educate students on the notion of digital manufacturing, the MakerGear Micro does something quite different: it provides the students with an easy-to-follow process to BUILD THEIR OWN PRINTER.
It’s not about digital inventory (although it could be after the assembly). Instead it seems to be about teaching students that you can make a magic machine from some random parts that can be used to “make anything”. Something from nothing, indeed!
That’s an extraordinarily powerful concept for students to learn, and one wonders what they may grow into having that knowledge.
“This 3D printed 3D printer is designed to be a fun and easy-to-build open source project for anyone and everyone! With so many of our customers being in education, we set out to create the perfect tool for STEM education that not only encourages students to use their school’s 3D printers but also helps them better understand the mechanics and technology behind them.”
Something else: MakerGear provides all the plans for the Micro as open source, so you can download and start. However, the files are provided not only as printable STL files, but also as CAD-modifiable STEP files. This means that ambitious students could tweak the design in various ways to make it their own, if they have the software tools and energy to do so.
MakerGear provides an extensive set of instructions that look quite easy to follow, as you can see in their short product video:
MakerGear has carefully designed the Micro to be buildable by anyone, even students with no prior experience building 3D printers or other complex machines.
The Micro 3D Printer Kit is offered in two forms. You can purchase all the required parts and assembly instructions for US$600. Note that the hardware is “pre-crimped and pre-soldered for easy assembly”. There is also an option to purchase only the hardware and 3D print your own plastic parts for US$500. I suspect many will take that option.
This is an interesting move by MakerGear, as there are few if any other 3D printer manufacturers producing a printer specifically designed for assembly. They may find a large audience among schools looking for a way to light up the engineering minds in their classrooms.