Did the thought of a 3D printing classroom in your school cross your mind, but don’t know exactly how to set it up? We created this manual so that you’ll get all the necessary information and useful details to help you choose the right type and number of 3D printers and any additional accessories.
The classroom must meet the basic technical parameters like the number of power sockets, PC/laptops, etc. In a classroom with 3D printers, it is necessary to get the technical equipment right: A sufficient number of power sockets and the associated power supply to the 3D printers are essential. For each 3D printer, we recommend 2 sockets. The primary one is for the 3D printer, another one is for possible upgrades such as the Prusa Enclosure. We recommend at least 200 W as reserved power for the printer. The average power consumption is 80 W at 26 °C/79 °F (room temperature) for printing generic PLA. Place printers on sturdy tables to ensure sufficient stability during printing.
We recommend having an internet connection in the classroom to obtain the latest 3D printer software, download models from online databases, or access cloud-based modeling programs such as Tinkercad.
Anti-vibration pads under 3D printers can also be useful. We have found the use of rubber plates normally used under the washing machine to be a functional and inexpensive solution.
When printing basic materials, there is no need to enclose the printer in a box. However, if you choose to print from more advanced materials or to exhibit the printer in the hallway, an enclosure is highly recommended. Using a Prusa Enclosure is the most appropriate solution. At the same time, with a higher number of active 3D printers, an air purifier is worthwhile to help remove any odor from the printing.
As for the number of recommended students per 3D printer, we can make a simplified calculation as follows: The number of students in the group is divided by two, which is the proven number of students per 3D printer.
To work with the 3D printer, we recommend having at least one computer in the classroom for preparing the print data. However, you can prepare the models for example in the PC classroom and bring only the SD card/USB flash drive with the print file to the 3D printer.
We recommend purchasing at least one cabinet with a lock for the classroom, where the print materials can be stored dry. (Filaments degrade in a humid environment).
Up to 10 printers can all be handled by one person. However, we strongly recommend when setting up a classroom to allocate 2-3 members of the teaching staff who will be able to handle and also service the 3D printers. If you’re struggling with a problem of any kind, in most cases you can find the answer in our knowledge base or reach out to our 3D printing community on Prusa Forum. You can also check our online Prusa Academy courses.
The Original Prusa MK3S+ and Original Prusa MINI+ 3D printers are highly reliable machines and according to professional reviews are among the absolute TOP in the field of FFF printers. The MINI+’s advantages include a lower price and compact size, but on the other hand, it has a smaller print area than the MK3S+. You can read more about the various aspects of choosing the right printer model in our article How to choose a 3D printer.
The choice of filament materials is very important at the beginning. The most suitable filaments for school are the basic ones. We recommend using PLA and PETG materials. For other specific applications, ASA, FLEX, PC, PCCF or PA materials may be suitable. However, we would not use these materials – at least initially. More advanced materials provide better functional properties (toughness, temperature resistance, etc.), but require 3D printing skills, are more expensive, and/or smell when printed.
When filaments are stored incorrectly, they can absorb moisture, which then reduces their printing properties. If the filament is kept in a dry environment, the spool can be used even after several years without any problems. If the filament becomes damp, the material can be dried, for example, in a hot air oven or dry box specifically designed for filament.
When choosing filament, pay attention to its quality. The maximum deviation of the string diameter, color fastness, and the quality of the winding play the most important role. When buying on Prusa Research e-shop you can take advantage of a 10% discount on Prusaments.
To use 3D printers, it is necessary to have 3D models and then process them for 3D printing. You can get models and projects from the Printables database or model them yourself. If you are new to 3D modeling, we recommend that you start with Tinkercad and once you have gained basic experience, you can move on to the more complex Autodesk Fusion 360. Both of these applications are free to use.
The finished model is then processed in PrusaSlicer, which is used to prepare the 3D model itself for printing. The resulting data is simply transferred to the 3D printer via a medium. We develop PrusaSlicer ourselves and continuously improve it based on user feedback. It is very easy to use and we explain the details of the controls in our Prusa Academy courses. You can find the program on our website and download it for free.
When using a 3D printer, it is important to have other accessories that will make it easier to work with. Cleaning supplies should be an integral part of the classroom. We recommend purchasing isopropyl alcohol (IPA), preferably at a concentration of 90 % or higher, to properly clean the heatbed before any 3D printing. If you want to lower the cost, purchase a 5L canister and then dispense the IPA into a spray bottle. To clean the heatbed, kitchen towels or paper towels will be enough. For cleaning, we do not recommend using cleaning agents with aromatic additives, which can make the heatbed greasy.
Other accessories are also useful: For starters, we recommend purchasing a brass-bristled brush to clean the nozzle from the outside, and a spatula to remove the print from the heatbed. Compressed air spray will clean dust and other debris from the print fans. We use SD cards for the Original Prusa i3 MK3S+ and USB flash drives for the Original Prusa MINI+ to transfer data between the 3D printer and the computer. If your PC does not have an SD card reader, be sure to get one. For printing PLA and PETG base filaments, it is not necessary to purchase adhesion-enhancing sprays such as 3D Lac or stick glue.
Original Prusa 3D printers are considered to be very reliable and, thanks to their open design, you can usually tell at first look or by listening where a fault has occurred. In the vast majority of cases, you can fix the problem yourself only with tools and spare parts provided with the 3D printer. You can also contact our support with any questions at any time.
However, 3D printers do require regular maintenance in the form of lubricating bearings, keeping them clean, and replacing parts such as printing plates, the nozzle on the extruder, etc. More information on printer maintenance can be found in the Prusa Academy course under Maintenance Basics and Troubleshooting.
During normal use of the 3D printer, the consumption is approximately 1-2 Kg of filament per month. Such a calculation is not universal for all institutions but can be generally followed.