The reduction in prices for home based 3D printers has allowed many new users the ability to access additive manufacturing. Schools in particular are jumping on this trend as they see 3D printing as a way to teach a new generation about science, technology, engineering and math. Even with the printers in the classroom though the curriculum for learning with a 3D printer is still being worked out, that’s where Barobo comes in.
Barobo is a UC Davis spin-off that “aims to make robotics more affordable, adaptable, reconfigurable, and reprogrammable for education, research and industrial applications.” The primary product is the Mobot, a programmable robot whose parts are now freely available on their website.
For $140 the Mobot kit includes all of the robotics required to build a Mobot as well as the intrustions on how to assemble. The only thing the kit does not include is the actual plastic parts that make up the Mobot – instead these are available as models and are intentded to be 3D printed. This seems like a great way to extend the learning for STEM subjects while providing students with a fun project that has a cool outcome.
Barobo will continue to sell the parts when necessary (at least for some time it seems) but they are not afraid of people cutting into their business by producing their own models. From the PR Newswire release, Co-Found Graham Ryland:
“We’re breaking from traditional business models and relying on our users to, not just assemble the robot, but play an active role in manufacturing the plastic parts. We’ve proven the technology in the classroom and want to get it into students’ hands as quickly and cheaply as possible. Relying on customers to manufacture their own plastic parts wasn’t an option just a few years ago, but 3D printing technology has made this new way of rolling out an educational product possible.”