Last year Daemon3D Print were proud to supply Northern Ireland’s Nerve Centre with 16 of the Hephestos 2 3D Printers.


These 3D printers were part of an exciting new project in Northern Ireland which brought 3D printing to new users in schools. Nerve Centre, which is a creative media arts and education centre, developed this new 3D printing project which offered 16 schools across Northern Ireland the chance to build their own Hephestos 2 3D printer, along with training on how to use it across the curriculum. Once the teachers had built the 3D printer and shown how they can use it, it was then theirs for their school to keep.


The aim of the project was to make 3D printing accessible to schools and teachers who had an interest and enthusiasm in introducing 3D printing within their class. There was no requirement that the teachers had any technical skills in 3D printing and all that was necessary was that they had the drive and ambition to learn and deliver an in-class project.


The desire to use 3D printing within schools was clear, with 75 schools, both primary and post-primary from across Northern Ireland, applying to participate in the project. After an extensive selection process, 16 schools were selected to take part.


One of the successful participants was Mr Patrick Gill, a Primary 6 Teacher from Holy Family Primary School in Derry and he had the following to say about the project:


“The reason we wanted to be involved in this project was due to the advantages of using 3D printing within our school: it is cross-curricular, enables problem solving, encourages pupils to work as a team, develops collaboration, teaches the pupils to compromise, improves spacial awareness, boosts creativity and promotes entrepreneurial thinking. Each of these advantages promote important life skills which the children need to develop. Not only would a 3D printer promote learning, it would also promote and further staff as they learn about and use this new technology.”


As 3D printing expands within industry, it’s important that we prepare our students for jobs within this sector. The only way we can do this is to ensure that children today are exposed to and have experience of all forms of technology. It’s therefore important that our schools and teachers are presented with opportunities to embrace new technologies within the classroom.


22 teachers from 16 schools attended 2 half day workshops at the Nerve Centre’s Creative Learning Centre in Derry, where each school was presented with their very own bq Hephestos 2 DIY printer kit. Within just a few minutes into the build the atmosphere in the room was electric, as the teachers from the schools were all helping one another build their 3D printers. After the first workshop each of the teachers took their printers back to their school where they finished building and testing out their 3D printer.



The next week, the teachers returned to the Nerve Centre for their second workshop, which focused on 3D modelling and slicing software used to create 3D designs and products on the Hephestos 2 printers.



Each school developed their own unique 3D printing project, which they fulfilled in the new academic year. Some of these projects include creating models of Viking long ships, to help primary 6 pupils learn and understand these vessels when studying The Vikings. Other groups created a cross-curricular project with Year 5 pupils to develop bird houses and feeders or reproduced sound waves and instruments in Music in order to help students understand the concept of sound. One group of Year 8 Geography students used 3D printing to make a working digital compass.


One of the participants of the 3D printing project was a Maths teacher from Mercy College in Belfast and they stated,


“I have found that students often learn best when we get them out of the classroom and see math in real life, for example, measuring car parking spaces or the inside of the gym. A 3D printer allows us to take these findings and introduce scale, something many students find it hard to get their head around.”


The Hephestos 2 was chosen for this 3D printing project because firstly it's a DIY printer kit, which teaches the individuals how to build a printer from scratch and more importantly if they encounter any issues with the printer throughout it's life they can easily take the printer apart and fix it themselves. This printer is compatible with the majority of materials available on the market, which means the schools can experiment with the models they create. Bq have also developed the electronic control for the new graphic LCD, which has an even more intuitive interface to simplify the user experience. 


This project was funded by The Department for Communities and Northern Ireland Screen. Find out more about Nerve Centre here.