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3D Printing - The New Mojo

'TechSoft Launches the Mojo 3D Printer with unique Wave Wash’

Mojo System

I’m indebted to D&T teacher Nick Plumeridge from Addey and Stanhope School for introducing me to the best summer read I’ve had in a long time. ‘The Case For Working With Your Hands – or Why Office Work is Bad for Us and Fixing Things Feels Good’ by Matthew Crawford is a beautifully reasoned critique of the historical segregation of ‘manual’ and ‘managerial’ labour and how this has led to unhealthy assumptions in modern society. An American academic with degrees in political philosophy, Crawford also runs a motor cycle repair shop so is well qualified to comment. One effect of this false division, he suggests, is the almost total demise of ‘Shop Class’ in US education. Here there are clear echoes of our concern for the future of D&T in the UK.

It seems to me that Design and Technology is one key area of the curriculum where we have a chance to marry thinking with doing, planning with execution and to develop the necessary skills to turn the germ of an idea into a tangible product that, in some small way, will make the world a better place. We all know how satisfying that is and how it provides us and our students with a powerful incentive to go on learning, questioning and engaging with real world issues.

3D Printing is not simply a ‘managerial’ task – as Matthew Crawford might put it. If you have yet to embrace Rapid Prototyping through 3D Printing then perhaps cost, training or lack of available resources have (so far) got in your way. Another reason might just be that it all seems too darned easy – what about the skills associated with our subject? If all you have to do is sit at a computer and click ‘Print’ to produce a project then maybe you have a point. But there’s more to it than that.

First you have to design it in 3D CAD and SolidWorks is particularly good at directing you to ‘model it like you would make it’. If you have experience of taking things apart and using tools to make things at the bench then modelling in SolidWorks will seem natural and intuitive. The 3D Printers TechSoft supply all make tough ABS parts with great accuracy so you’re likely to get a finished, functional component. Often, however, this will be just one part of the project and a range of other making skills are likely to be needed. 3D Printing is not a substitute but an important addition to the modern D&T armoury and one that will exercise and demand a healthy blend of intellectual and practical skills.

But what about cost? Our Dimension and uPrint 3D machines are now more affordable than ever which reflects their enormous popularity in world markets. But things don’t stand still and we are delighted to introduce the latest addition to the Stratasys stable – enter the Mojo!

Mojo SamplesMojo uses the same FDM technology as its Dimension stablemates so preserves the capability for accurate, tough models. What is different is size, cost, ease of use and a very low maintenance requirement. Build size is still a very useful 127 x 127 x 127mm cube so plenty big enough for many school projects. Finding space should be easy too - at 630 x 450 x 530mm, Mojo takes up about as much desk space as a regular A4 paper printer. Materials are supplied as a complete Quickpack Print Engine which means that when you plug in a fresh cartridge, you will be loading fresh print heads for accurate, clean builds. Mojo uses Soluble Support Technology so two cartridges are needed – the support material provides a scaffold for hollow, overhanging or delicate features and is simply broken from the model when it is complete. Support that can’t be broken away (due to the delicacy of the model or because it is ‘trapped’ inside a hollow form) is dissolved away using Mojo’s unique WaveWash 55 support removal system. No bigger than (and looking remarkably like) a modern jug kettle, WaveWash 55 gently agitates and heats a water-based solvent to quickly dissolve away support material. It requires no plumbing and allows virtually hands-free processing of parts.

We will be showcasing Mojo soon so keep your eyes open for our regional and national presentations. If you can’t wait then get in touch and we’ll see how best to let you see our ‘Mojo Working’ - as Muddy Waters once sang.

by Tim Elderton of TechSoft, September 2012
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