Review: Coursera “The 3D Printing Revolution”

I have known about 3D printing for a long time, and we had one at the University but I never had call to use it. Last year my son and daughter-in-law bought one, primarily for Gem’s Concrete Gems. I was mulling over challenges for 2019 and I thought learning to use 3D printing software would be something challenging and potentially useful. I had a look at courses on offer and Coursera’s “The 3D Printing Revolution” came up as good place to start. This was a short course (nominally 2 weeks – 12 hours) and started immediately. When I was first involved in MOOCs I thought short courses, without a fixed start date were a bad idea, but the world has changed and this suited me!

The course was in 3 parts:

  1. Orientation
  2. Module 1: What Is 3D Printing?
  3. Module 2: Why Is It Revolutionary?

The Orientation, indicated the course wasn’t very social with only 12 responses, but then I wasn’t here to be social.

Module 1 introduced me to a lot of the jargon and different ways in which 3 D printing is actually realised. My main take away point from this week is that 3D printing in additive as opposed to traditional to the subtractive approach of traditional manufacturing, Mapping this to my everyday life knitting is additive, with items made layer upon layer, only using the yarn needed. Whereas dressmaking is subtractive, with the pieces needed cut out and then joined, the material cut away is discarded.

Module 2 had lots of examples of the uses of 3D printing. I was only auditing the course so wasn’t intending to do any assignments. But the Week 2 peer reviewed project was to look at Thingiverse and to find something to remix, and remix it. I hunted around and found something I liked and remixed. I then asked Gemma to print it for me, the print wasn’t successful as my object fell off its raft! And so outside the course I was introduced to the world of Cura. After a second attempt, this time with supports, and a bit more work I had a usable crochet hook! This exercise really got me hooked on thinking what I could design and print.

My 3D printed crochet hook

All in all this was an excellent course. I would recommend it to anyone wanting an introduction to the potential of 3D printing. My only gripes are minor:

  1. The course was produced in 2015 (I think) it would benefit from an update – especially when talking about what might happen in the next 5 years.
  2. Some of the inline questions/polls were a bit leading.

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