What lessons from the Makelangelo carry over to 3D printing or other robots?

  • A drawing from the Makelangelo is like one layer of a 3D print. Stacking many drawings on top of each other is what builds a 3D shape.
  • The PC talks to the Makelangelo with GCODE, the same language as 3D printers and other CNC machines.
  • The Makelangelo code looks a lot like Marlin, the code in most 3D printers.
  • The Makelangelo has much of the same hardware.
  • Constructing a Makelangelo is similar. In most cases, better documented and easier to accomplish.
  • Calibrating a Makelangelo is easier than a 3D printer, and yet very similar.
  • Converting an image for the Makelangelo is similar to slicing a 3D shape (getting it ready for a printer).

Lessons include coordinate systems, trig, pi, circumference of a circle, DC motors vs stepper motors, wiring for simple circuits, and physics. Advanced topics include design, design for manufacturing, programming, low level optimization, path planning, the traveling salesman problem, and iterative algorithms.

Why would I get a Makelangelo when I can get a 3D printer? Plastic is $20USD/kg.

USD20 may not be much to you but it’s a lot for a classroom with a $100/year budget. Add to that the risk of a young person burning or electrocuting themselves and the hidden cost of a 3D printer becomes really unattractive. If a Makelangelo messes up it wastes a sheet of paper and maybe a marker.

A 3D printer also takes up valuable shelf space in a classroom.  The Makelangelo can hang all year at the top of a whiteboard or on a window.

What kind of writing tools work best?

Sharpie markers are the most tested brand. EXPO whiteboard markers work great, too. Cheap ballpoint pens need a surprising amount of pressure to make the ball roll, and on a vertical surface the Makelangelo does not supply that pressure.

Pencils and chalk change shape as they are being used up. The machine would have to be frequently paused and adjusted. There’s a similar problem with paint, conte, etc.  If you have a solution, let us know!