Schools & Universities

About 3d Printing

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), refers to various processes used to synthesize a three-dimensional object. In 3D printing, successive layers of material are formed under computer control to create an object. These objects can be of almost any shape or geometry and are produced from a 3D model or other electronic data source. A 3D printer is a type of industrial robot.

Because the technology is so relatively new, the greatest impact may come via the introduction of 3D printing into public and private grade schools. The younger a person is, the easier it usually is to introduce new ideas and methodologies. This is why young children are so quick to learn new languages, when compared to their older adult counterparts. This is what makes elementary schools, junior high schools, and high schools the perfect place to begin really introducing a curriculum based around 3D printing.

3D printing has caught the attention of educators who are looking into ways to incorporate 3d printing into the classroom. Printed objects can be incredibly intricate. They can also be created with working components, hinges, and parts within parts.

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Using 3d printing in the classroom could mean:

Biology student can print and study cross-sections of hearts and other organs. The medical sector is viewed as being one that was an early adopter of 3D printing, but also a sector with huge potential for growth, due to the customization and personalization capabilities of the technologies and the ability to improve people’s lives as the processes improve and materials are developed that meet medical grade standards.

Chemistry students could print molecules to study. From high schools to universities, 3D printing integrated with chemistry education enhances the ability for students to learn how our microcosmic world behaves through large scale models.

Students in geography courses could print out maps showing the topography, population or demographics of an area. 3D printing is an excellent way for students to better understand geological formations on a scale that is not presentable through 2-dimensional images.

Graphic design/Art students could create 3d versions of their artwork. Art and design classes are surely going to see tremendous effects of 3D printing. The technology will open a whole new realm of possibilities for art teachers. Lesson plans could expand to include 3D design, and become much more interesting, with students being able to bring their designs to life via 3D printing. No longer do we have to rely on 2-dimensional screens in order to view 3-dimensional models. Comprehensive projects could be taken on, on a national or even global level, with the ability to share 3D printable art design with anyone, including other schools in the world.

History classes could print out historical artifacts for closer examination. History is probably the subject that has the most to gain through 3D printing technology. Museums all over the globe are finally beginning to see the potential that 3D scanning and printing can have on not only making replicas of ancient artifacts, but also backing them up and providing a more hands-on feel of them.

Architecture students could easily print out 3d models of their designs. Architectural models have long been a staple application of 3D printing processes, for producing accurate demonstration models of an architect’s vision. 3D printing offers a relatively fast, easy and economically viable method of producing detailed models directly from 3D CAD, BIM or other digital data that architects use. Many successful architectural firms, now commonly use 3D printing (in house or as a service) as a critical part of their workflow for increased innovation and improved communication.

Engineering students can print out prototypes of their creations. Like the medical sector, the engineering sector was an early adopter of 3D printing technologies in their earliest forms for product development and prototyping. These companies, typically working in partnership with academic and research institutes, have been at the sharp end in terms or pushing the boundaries of the technologies for manufacturing applications.

3D printing doesn’t only provide ways of learning different subjects, but if done correctly there could be lesson plans built specifically around 3D printing in general. It is a learning tool, one which will only continue to evolve, and continue to provide benefits beyond standard educational curricula.

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