The 3D revolution

With 3D printing becoming more accessible, there is no reason schools can’t have access to 3D resources, says Joe Doyle

1.) What recent advances have been made in 3D printing within the education sector?

With 3D printing becoming more accessible and cost effective to run, there is no reason schools can’t have access to 3D resources. From both the software and CAD, through to hardware output, there are lots of resources out there to equip and enable the students of today to be using 3D skills in the work place tomorrow.

A fun fact to consider, CAD coursework submitted in 3D often receives a whole grade higher that non-3D work. 

2.) We’ve seen 3D printing being used in many sectors but has it really moved forward in our schools and universities?

Massively. 3D printing gives students the ability to produce ideas for a variety of industries that were previously impossible, with ease. It is enabling educators to encourage innovation and creativity and gives students a platform to express their concepts. It has revolutionised teaching by educating students to use technology that will support them in a variety of career opportunities. It is changing the way educators teach, bringing new concepts to the industry, which is very beneficial to students of all ages. 

3.) In your opinion, what skills can young learners gain from having 3D printing in the classroom?

CAD and 3D printing are the next level of required skills in an educated workforce of designers. People may believe that 3D printing is only useful for engineering type applications, but it realistically applies to every known field – medical, food, fashion, architecture, even marketing roles! We are still only just scratching the surface of how to take advantage of the many benefits that 3D printing offers and I think that exposure to the technology at a young age brings with it significant rewards – it offers a new and exciting dimension to learning that can only increase a student’s skillset. This in turn will boost career opportunities. Students can show potential employers 3D models that they have built during their studies and present a portfolio of their work before starting a career.

This technology will become a staple part of people’s lives just as the internet and smartphones have become

4.) 3D printers are generally still quite expensive. Do the benefits it can bring to teaching and learning justify the costs?

It terms of a comparative expense to other business uses, it’s actually surprisingly cost effective, especially with options to lease available. I think a better question to ask is can the school or university afford not to have it in stock – all the other schools in the same area will be! If a picture says a thousand words, imagine how many words a 3D object that a student has made says. 3D printing will raise engagement from students and help basic critical thinking and problem solving skills. An educational institution only needs one 3D printer, in comparison to tablets and iPads which have also been suggested to help learning, so they are far more cost effective.

5.) Can you recommend any resources or training programmes which could help schools / universities and teachers understand and use a 3D printer?

3Dsystems have an online university, giving a curriculum that educators can use as an introduction to 3D print. There are also great websites that give free to use 3D models, as well as easy to follow instructions on video streaming sites.

6.) Will 3D printing continue to grow in education – and will these machines be a classroom staple in years to come?

3D printing is predicted to be the next industrial revolution, with every home owning a printer, and printing supplies at home, drastically changing how we buy things in the future. Therefore, this technology will become a staple part of people’s lives just as the internet and smartphones have become. Today’s students need to have the skills to be on the next edge of design. 3D printing is already becoming an essential tool in the classroom, and those still thinking of taking the plunge should do so as soon as possible!

Joe Doyle is Marketing Director at Annodata



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