#MeetTheMakers – Andy Perrin – 42 from Barnet

#MeetTheMakers – Andy Perrin – 42 from Barnet

Local hub/coordinator – QE BOYS, Michael Noonan

What inspired you to get involved with 3DCrowd?

I am a Prusa Printer fan and follow printing enthusiasts on social media and saw the ShieldsUp response in the US and what Prusa have been doing in the Czech Republic. I felt like I had the capability and I linked up with Mike on Facebook with the DT group before 3D Crowd started, once it had it fell into place that I followed Mike into the Hub we now operate in.

Was there a personal reason to get involved?

For me, I feel that everyone should be trying to do their bit to help and with my equipment and skillset, this is the best way for me to contribute. Also, many of the parents at my school are Doctors or work in the NHS and some of them are friends so I felt that I had a duty to protect them while they work to protect us.

What has been the best thing about being a part of the 3DCrowd?

The quality, leadership, and organisation of the group is first class. I have told everyone I know that it is amazing that 8,000 volunteers can be brought together with such cohesion in such a short time. The level of control in planning, distribution, funding and support is such a high level.

What’s been the hardest thing?

Keeping up with demand, maintaining and setting up printers, availability of supplies has been a real challenge.

What 3D printer do you use?

Prusa Mk3S, Prusa Mini, Any cubic I3 and Ultimaker 2+ (called Henry)

What’s your preferred material and why?

PETG from Prusa, works amazingly on the Prusa printers

How many do you make in a week?

Varies depending on the supply of materials. Between 40 and 100

How many have you made so far?

To be honest, I have not kept count, but it must be around 400-600

What got you interested in 3DPrinting?

I have loved it since my teacher training at a DT teacher through the Troops to Teachers program at East Barnet School. My mentor Steve Saddler taught me a lot about the 3D design programs of Tinkercad and Autodesk and naturally, the printing element followed soon after. My current pupils love the fact that at the end of a stage of learning they can hold something tangible in their hand and have something to be proud of.


What keeps you going when the printers playing up? 

There are times when they frustrate me, but I feel that they help me to learn more about the printers when they do. Having built my Prusa I feel that it has been the best way to learn how the machine works. Knowing that Face Sheilds are still in such a high demand helps keep me motivated. Also, we have inter Hub rivalry (of a friendly nature) mine and Mikes are quite often the local hub that fulfills all our orders.

What has been a highlight so far?

Being able to deliver some of our orders firsthand to the people that need it. Also being able to supply parents from our school directly has been great. The next big one that I’m sure will be rewarding is supplying my entire school with enough PPE for 1st June opening.

And a low point/toughest bit?

When prints go wrong and having to work out why and fix issues. Alongside having to do my normal job is challenging
What’s the best thing you have ever made on your 3D printer? Or what would you love to make once you have more time?

I like making things for the house, light-fittings, Lithophanes and other useful products.


How do you see the future for 3D printing?  What areas would you like to get involved in?

I love teaching 3D design and printing, because I have shown my school how good it is, I now teach nearly all year groups in our Prep school a module on 3D design and my clubs are bursting. These pupils will take what they have learned into medical, engineering and design careers and take what we are doing now to new heights. I would like to learn more higher-level designs such as Autodesk, Blender, etc (very difficult to find the time to train myself). I would love to be able to design and build my own bicycle.

How have you used the community connections?

The community connection has been and will be great when it comes to developing partnerships between schools in the future. I would like to create a shared knowledge space where schools with limited resources, but high levels of interest can get support from established schools in the same field.

How has Slack worked for you?

Slack is useful, I do not tap into its full potential. I use it to communicate with the people I need to. I do not generally scan through all the posts due to time and therefore probably miss out on some useful info.

What are your other interests and hobbies, what do you do to wind down?  Usually, and how is that different in the lockdown?

I am a keen cyclist and lockdown has given me more time to train but I have to do it all indoors on a virtual training program called Zwift. When we are not in lockdown, I cycle with a club but know cycle with friends virtually.

As ex-military who was medically discharged before becoming a teacher, I have lots of charity connections and we have been working on using virtual training to help with veterans suffering from isolation which is very rewarding. I have been very busy helping set up and support our schools (Belmont School, Mill Hill Foundation) online learning platform which has kept us on our toes during lockdown.

How have you been coping with your mental wellbeing during the new normal?

To be honest my small family are quite happy with our own company, so isolation hasn’t been too big of a problem. We are happy to do things together, exercise together, and maintain social distancing. Lots of Zoom and Google Meets with family and friends helps us stay connected.

Have your relationships with your friends and family changed? Have you got closer or more isolated?

I think closer with family as we are all under the same roof day after day but like I said we have not had to adapt much. It is a shame for our pupils to not be with their friends, our pupils are missing the importance of social interactions at school.

What’s your favourite thing about lockdown?

The great weather, this would have been horrible in winter

What is the worst?

Shopping for food

How do you think society will be different when we return to old life?

I am hoping we learn from it, I hope people continue to walk and cycle to work and avoid cars and pupil transport, I hope people continue exercising and doing all the positive things that can be achieved while we are lockdown. Also, I hope people will still try and help each other and come together rather than as it was before.

What is your opinion on how the UK has handled the PPE crisis?

I think well, we cannot be ready for every eventuality that life throws at us and if it means people and organisations like 3D Crowd are needed then so be it. I did some charity work with Team Rubicon UK disaster relief charity during this lockdown helping move beds for the NHS. They very quickly bought extra beds, outfitted new hospitals etc and even though a lot of these resources were not needed at least they tried and were ready. We are a small highly populated country that you would say would be highly susceptible to this sort of pandemic and it could have been a lot worse than it has been.

In what way do you feel valued, useful, motivated by the crisis? 

I feel I have done my bit by supporting 3D Crowd and doing a small amount of volunteering with Team Rubicon as well as feeling that I have played a part in maintaining our pupil’s education to the best of my ability. All this, when looking back makes me feel positive in my contribution.

What one thing would you like to see change after this pandemic subsides?

I would like to see the NHS not get taken advantage of like it was before. I spent a lot of time in hospital after my military service and I saw how people treated the staff and hospitals and all the unnecessary work they made them do. We are so lucky to have such a service and I do not want to see them having to deal with ungrateful members of the public again

Who are your heroes in life?

I don’t really have heroes; I have people I feel have done the right thing and have acted selflessly in support of others which could be described as heroes.

At the current time Sir Tom Moore, All the doctors and nurses I know personally working hard at the current time. The volunteers at Bike Shed delivering our orders. People like Mike Noonan who have committed so much of their own time and effort to support the 3D Crowd cause in our area.