Placed on 13/04/2022
How building a 3D printer created a real feeling for and connection to the engineering sector
“You're going to love this!” We certainly did! The Achterhoek is known as a centre for innovation, particularly when it comes to engineering and technology. As an organisation that has engineering at its forefront, we are hugely proud to be part of a fascinating project to 'build your own 3D printer', aimed at promoting interest in engineering among young people.
The ViV (Varsseveldse Industriële Vereniging) gave affiliated organisations – of which VB-Airsuspension has been one for many years – the opportunity to take part in this project together employees' family members (a son, daughter, granddaughter or grandson). This was a great opportunity for our employees, who were keen to get involved. A number of people were enthusiastic about getting involved in this innovative engineering project and decided to take on the challenge together with their son or daughter. Some even offered to act as a trainer for the project group, including our colleague Piet van Dooren. "It’s a perfect opportunity to let children see and experience what's so fascinating about engineering", explains Piet enthusiastically.
The project started in 2021, with eighty young people from the Achterhoek region all keen to get started on the task of building their own 3D printer. The project has had to be halted on several occasions due to the introduction of new coronavirus measures. But… it quickly got up to speed again in early 2022. Some were so keen that they kept on working at home in the intervals and completed their printer earlier than others.
Getting to know engineering – broadening your horizons, pushing your limits
For some, this was a completely new area they knew nothing about. Others were already familiar with some basic principles and methods to help them get started. Participants learned a variety of skills, including woodworking, (metal) cutting, assembly and soldering. They also realised they were capable of much more than they had previously thought. Never had a go at soldering? No problem. Full of genuine interest and enthusiasm, the participants quickly mastered this skill! Got your 3D printer finished? Fantastic, so let’s take it further – and find out what you can do with your 3D printer. Participants were taught about the Tinkercad software (online 3D modelling program) and Cura, the program that converts drawings into a printer file. What they have learned will help participants continue to try out and further develop their newly acquired knowledge and skills.
The project not only introduced the young people to the engineering sector, broadened their knowledge and skills in this area and stimulated their interest in engineering – it also had a great social aspect. Quite apart from the fact that the young people got to build something for themselves, the interaction between the supervisors and the children was a real positive for all concerned. "It was a great experience for all concerned that really helped to build bonds among the participants. Working together on the project built mutual esteem and regard between the supervisor and young person” – believes Piet. A true learning experience for all involved!
The project and build were completed last month, and an evening to mark its conclusion is due to take place in May at CIVON (Centrum voor Innovatief Vakmanschap Oost-Nederland - East Netherlands Centre for innovative crafts) at which all eighty participants in the project will receive a certificate for their special achievements. However, the participants still have one task ahead of them before this final celebratory evening, in the form of their examination project: to make a ruler. If any of the participants are able to make a ruler in two colours, they can expect to pass with distinction!
The project has clearly borne fruit: young people have been introduced to engineering, learnt new things, strengthened relationships, and they have gained enthusiasm for what engineering can do – for some for the very first time.
On behalf of VB-Airsuspension: well done on the hard work and good luck with the last few steps to the finish line!