Despite the fact that 3D printing has been around for 25 years, the interest in this technology has hit a fever pitch in the past few years. 2012 and ‘13 were great years for 3D printing in terms of publicity, as 3D printing made the headlines on several occasions for the 3D printing of violins in January and 3D printed prosthetics in August of 2012, along with the headline of 3D printing guns in July. But also, the UK government saw the potential that 3D printers brought to not only businesses—by making a £14.7 million investment in the development of 3D printing projects—but also in schools, conducting several studies in 2013 regarding uses in the curriculum and boosting STEM and Technology classes. This combined with the introduction of the Makerbot 5th Gen and some significant industry consolidation, debuted 3D printing as a serious contributor to society. Mainstream media helped to bring both awareness and familiarity to the 3D printing industry in 2012 and 2013, making it easier to not only see the benefits of 3D printing for society as whole, but also seeing the possibility that 3D printing’s application has to solve specific problems within any industry.
The reasons that the 3D printing technology is so desired within the education sector is that it opens up new learning possibilities, students can see their designs come to life and they are able to interact with the finished product in ways that weren’t previously possible.
By offering students the ability to choose their own projects for study and experimentation, gives them the responsibility to be their own leader, directing, organising, and implementing their own process.
In the traditional school environment, we are taught to be passive learners: children sit quietly in rows of desks, staring solemnly at the front of the room to be lectured at by teachers. Those students who learn better through other modalities (i.e. movement, music, or intrapersonal skills, etc.) disconnect, becoming withdrawn from the learning process and lost within the system. Students possess a deep desire to be in control of their own learning process. By offering students the ability to choose their own projects for study and experimentation, gives them the responsibility to be their own leader, directing, organising, and implementing their own process. Creating “structured spontaneity” within the classroom gives students the space and freedom they require within the framework of traditional academia to bump up against challenges and find the confidence and curiosity within themselves to persevere and find solutions. 3D printers are an affordable teaching tool; 3D printers are now comparable to home and office PC’s and laptops in operation cost and energy usage.
Some may be of the opinion that 3D printing is just a way for students to experiment, this technology is in fact much more practical than that. Introducing 3D printing to your school or to your children could inspire the next generation of engineers, architects or designers. This technology and learning format can also help students that may struggle with current learning theories and topics from a textbook, but are much more capable and successful when given physical objects to work with.
3D printing isn’t just aimed at the tech related subjects though, 3D printers are in the unique position of being able to bridge the divide between the scientific and artistic departments, which greatly enhances students’ learning and productivity. From bespoke 3D printed sports equipment (cricket bats and more) to 3D printed musical instrument mouthpieces to clay sculptures and buildings, the range of materials you can use is expanding at an impressive rate, removing any restrictions or limitations which once stood in the way.
3D printers are an affordable teaching tool; 3D printers are now comparable to home and office PC’s and laptops in operation cost and energy usage.
There are still some obstacles that exist when it comes to 3D printing, but these can mostly be overcome with ease. The main barrier that schools have with introducing 3D printers into their schools is the lack of knowledge teachers have of 3D printing. It tends to take teachers a few months to understand the technology well enough to successfully and confidently be able to introduce it into their classrooms. However, like most things, the teachers that underwent training found it a lot easier to introduce 3D printing into the curriculum and of course reinforced their intrinsic excitement for the project with delivered successes.
Many schools find taking part in joint courses are very successful because it allows them to save money and collaborate on ideas too. Easy access to a 3D printer is definitely a factor for successful implementation, the 3D printers can be made accessible to students in a permanent location or, depending on the 3D printer, it can be moved around from classroom to classroom. Some schools have found great success with MakerBot’s Starter Lab, this Lab for Educators ensures students have immediate access to professional 3D printing as well as the tools, training and support to ensure that they are focused on using the technology to improve their learning outcomes from day one.
Investing in a 3D printer can be a barrier for many schools, but Daemon3D Print can offer credit terms to our education sector customers, that we hope will overcome this barrier.
3D printers will be evolving in the marketplace by differentiating themselves with specific features tailored for specific niches, instead of broad based industries. Instead of 3D printers marketed at education as whole, we will see 3D printers being customised to differentiate themselves in order to fill specific gaps, such as 3D printers for Autism with an enclosed printer bed, significantly reduced noise reduction, and specific materials that are not only safe but with particular textures and colours to easily incorporate into the curriculum.
3D printing is going to be a part of the professional world in the near future, which is why it’s so important to introduce this technology to your children in their education.
Find out more at www.daemon3dprint.com/3deducation.html