The Craft ROBO Plotter Cutter: Integrating sensing, modelling and control in DT

On Firday last I spent a really enjoyable morning working with a colleague at our local secondary school exploring the Craft ROBO plotter cutter and its associated CAD package. I was really pleased with the Christmas card I finally made, but as a user of the Nuffield DATA Primary DT materials, available freely on line, this tool is now a potentially powerful addition not only to our DT toolbox, but also in support of the modelling and sensing strands of our ICT curriculum. Thanks to Phil for inviting us to take part in the DT project he is developing between a local cluster of Primary schools and his department with the support of the Medlock Charitable Trust. I left yesterday, at lunchtime with yet another toy to play with and share, a community sharable object based CAD package and one of these lovely tools.

As a personal professional support tool, I have uploaded these videos to return to later, but thought some of my regular readers might also be interested in taking a look at the tool and its potential uses for themselves.

Video 1: An overview of the Craft ROBO

Video 2: A demonstration of the tool

In terms of modeling, one of the things I liked about the tool is the potential to prototype. Designing on paper first how an object might look before beginning to develop the project in real time. Students can sketch design proposals to paper, and then transfer these designs to the screen, by applying shapes to a work surface in the craft ROBO software package. Being object based these features can be dragged around and placed using layout grids. Turning on snap to grid, means the objects can be dropped and held in place accurately on screen. Using colour coding, the plotter cutter can be instructed which areas to cut, which areas to leave and with the insertion of a biro, the tool is converted to plotter rather than cutter mode. Prototypes and mockups, can be plotted first, and then replacing the biro with a cutting bit, a prototype can be cut using paper first. Inserting dotted lines lead to perforation cuts, being made, that allows for easier folding by small hands, no need for scoring.

After prototyping the full design, can be developed, with photographs or images inserted to the design file. Printing out on a colour printer, leads to the production of a colour net and the addition of "registration marks." which are later used by the cutter to align itself in relation to the design, when instructed to cut. This has alsorts of potential for developing these sessions to discuss sensing and control, within the context of the DT application for which the tool is being used. I am looking forward to trying out this tool with students as christmas approaches, and have already got one or two ideas for how we might use this to develop standard as well as animated christmas cards.

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