Portsmouth pupils' designs become reality thanks to donated 3D printer robot

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PRIMARY school children can now see their computer designs magically transformed from the screen into real life thanks to the generosity of a local engineering company.  

Emco Education of Hayling Island has donated a Makerbot Replicator to Gatcombe Park Primary School. The £1,200 robot prints three dimensional models of students’ designs using a corn-based plastic substitute.

(left to right) Chris Heal of EMCO Education with Eva Osborne (10) and Mesbah Hussein (10) with their 3D Printer prototype, 'Meva'

(left to right) Chris Heal of EMCO Education with Eva Osborne (10) and Mesbah Hussein (10) with their 3D Printer prototype, 'Meva'

Year 6 pupils, Eva Osborne and Mesbah Hussain, both 10, were the first to see the Makerbot in action as it transformed their design of Meva the robot into a real-life model.

Eva said: ‘I was amazed to see the robot take shape and I couldn’t believe it when the finished model appeared at the end. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I think my friends will be shocked when they get to use it.’

Classmate, Mesbah, added: ‘It was really fun to get to see something we had designed become a real model. We are really lucky to have this machine donated to our school.’

For computing lead teacher Phil Wickins the Markerbot ‘opens up a whole new world of possibilities’.

3D Printer prototype 'Meva' designed made and named by Eva Osborne (10) and Mesbah Hussein (10) with their 3D Printer prototype, 'Meva'

3D Printer prototype 'Meva' designed made and named by Eva Osborne (10) and Mesbah Hussein (10) with their 3D Printer prototype, 'Meva'

Mr Wickins said: ‘Once they started to see their design take shape their enthusiasm went through the roof. Seeing the whole process from design to model gives them real ownership. It will help the children to understand the evaluative process. Unlike conventional model building, where if something goes wrong you have to start from scratch, here the children can make alterations on the computer which will automatically be transferred to the printout.’

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For Emco sales director, Chris Heal, whose daughter, Ella, five, attends the school, the aim of the donation is to inspire the next generation of engineers.

Chris said: ‘The possibilities for what the Makerbot can design are endless. It’s really inspiring for children to be able to hold a model they have designed in their hand. Hopefully it will encourage more children, especially girls, to get into engineering.’

Makerbot technology has been used to design boat propellers, building prototypes and even to create a replacement hip joint.

Phil said: ‘The technology being used by the children is the exact same used in industry. This will open up a whole new world of potential career opportunities.’

Head of school, Debs Ogles, added: ‘We could never have afforded something like this and we’re really grateful to Emco for their donation.’