3D Printable Resources for Engaging Students in the Exploration of Instrument Design and Performance: Inexpensive and User-Friendly Instrument Kits for STEM Educators

While much has been accomplished in developing low-cost instruments using children’s building blocks and household items, greater access to 3D printing via community makerspaces and university fabrication centers allows educators to transcend the limitations of conventional tooling. The recent and accelerating advances in computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D printing methods provide access to innovative approaches in the development of new educational tools. While this evolving technology offers great potential, the barrier to entry is often intimidating for those unfamiliar with CAD software and fabrication equipment. This workshop will guide participants in the design of a colorimeter or fluorimeter instrument for lab use. Each participant will be provide with a 3D printed instrument kit to take home to use in their classrooms. Additionally, participants will receive a user-friendly set of computer-aided design (CAD) models and stereolithography (STL) files for the production of simple and inexpensive 3D printed analytical instruments. These designs allow educators to provide active learners with tools for constructing instruments in activities aimed at exploring the technology and fundamental principles related to quantitative analysis. These digital models are flexible in design, printed quickly, and each requires less than a dollar’s worth of plastic filament. Once printed, the resulting instruments perform very well when compared to commercially available tools. No previous CAD, 3D printing, or electronics experience is required. This workshop welcomes both beginners and those with some experience.

In order to give adequate personalized attention and foster engagement, I’d prefer to limit the workshop to approximately 15. I could possibly accommodate up to 20 if there is increased demand. This proposed workshop will be broken into two portions and requires two rooms. (1) The first is a computer design workshop that focus on computer-aided design (CAD) of chemical instrumentation for beginners. No previous experience is required. It will preferably require access to a computer lab or computer equipped classroom that can accommodate 15 users. Alternatively, a classroom or meeting space can be used if participants plan to bring their own laptops. No special software is required, only internet access is needed. (2) The second part of the workshop will be focused on assembling and testing the 3D printed instrument kits the participants will take home with them. This would require an intro/general chemistry lab space or large classroom with access to several power outlets or the potential for the use of several power strips. No chemicals will be used during this proposed workshop, with the possible exception of food coloring and tap water. There is no potential for electrical hazards since all instruments are powered by 9V (smoke detector) batteries or equivalent power adapters (cell phone chargers).

High School
Undergraduate Education
Classroom Practice and Learning Environments
Cross-cutting Thread(s):

Lon Porter