George Abbot School is an academy located in Guildford, Surrey. With a long standing reputation for academic excellence, the school serves around 2,000 students at both GCSE and sixth form level. The school's ethos is that each student is of equal value, which is underpinned by a drive to ensure that every student receives an enriching learning experience.
The design and technology department at George Abbot features a wide range of manual tools which students can use to create their project work, including metalworking and woodworking lathes.
With CAD/CAM becoming an increasingly important part of the curriculum, the teaching team needed to find a machine capable of fulfilling this requirement that would keep the students engaged with their project work and offer versatility to the curriculum. Design and Technology teacher James Monem had previous knowledge of laser cutters, specifically machines from Trotec. Since laser technology is becoming more commonplace in the D&T workshop, the team at George Abbot decided to look into this as an option to improve the school's facilities.
With machine reliability and local support being a key consideration for the school, they decided to book a demonstration at the local Guildford showroom to see if Trotec could provide a suitable solution. During the demonstration, it became clear that the laser cutter was not only a machine capable of creating complex cuts and engravings with ease, which would save a lot of time for students compared to time intensive creation with manual tools, but it was also a durable piece of equipment that could withstand heavy use within a classroom. Upon reviewing their findings James and the team opted to purchase a Speedy 300 laser.
"The laser has been a great use for both curriculum based projects and beyond. We use it for a range of activities aside from classroom projects and the machine continues to be an excellent workhorse for the school."- James Monem - George Abbot School -
Since the initial purchase of their Speedy 300, the students at George Abbot have been able to use the laser cutter for a wide range of different applications, including creating gears and complex mechanisms for larger design and technology projects. The laser is also used by staff to create components and projects for GCSE students and younger students.
The versatility of the laser for processing materials is not the only benefit the laser has brought to the classroom. The live laser head positioning feature helps staff and students alike make the most of their materials, allowing them to see at a glance whether there is enough space on the material to complete a job.
Aside from its core subject, the laser is also used on occasion by Graphics students. Trotec's intuitive JobControl software seamlessly works with a range of graphics programs, including 2D Design, which is favoured by many schools. This means that there is no need for the students to learn a new software and their designs can be easily imported into the laser software.
Alongside its use to support the curriculum, the Trotec laser has also been used for extracurricular activities and by staff within the school. The creation of door signs can now be handled in-house by the staff reducing outsourcing costs. The staff can also cut materials such as plywood and acrylics down to size for each year group before the start of each year. Students have been able to cut components for various activities. This included the Airgeneers project, where students created a plywood obstacle course using the laser. The course was large enough to fill the school assembly hall and students competed on the course using mini-drones.
Reflecting on the experience, James has nothing but positive feedback for Trotec. The team feel that the advice they received helped them to find the optimum machine for their requirements, while the ongoing support, including tips and tricks for making the most of the laser, has helped George Abbot to create a fun and engaging learning experience for students.