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The Importance of 3D Printing in Education

by Christopher Lane

Modern education systems are transforming rapidly. In many schools we are now seeing tablets, such as Ipads, taking over the role of school books and digital screens taking over chalkboards. These have several advantages over centuries old ways of teaching, and is a way for students to better connect to the roles they will have after they graduate. A similar case can be made for the ecosystem around 3D printing.

The advancement of modern technology inevitably means that new industries grow as older industries fade away. While it is difficult to predict the future of some industries, the focus of the technologies surrounding 3D printing seems to have a very solid basis for the coming decades.

At its heart, 3D Printing is the last line of a chain of design, the end result of designers creating 3D models in Computer Aided Design (CAD) style programs. Those same programs being used to create 3D models have a wide range of other applications and the outreach of those applications is growing constantly.

The fields of architecture, medicine, engineering, construction, movies, TV shows, animation, video games, all use 3D modeling extensively. Many research and product development branches are also utilizing these rapid prototyping technologies.

Our lives will continue to be shaped by these advancements. By the year 2020, it is estimated that $35 Billion (U.S.) will be spent on 3D printing alone, not even taking into consideration the other business opportunities and technologies that will grow around it, such as 3D scanning, physics modeling, and related fields.

3D Printers and their related software are becoming more advanced, easier to use and less expensive every year.

Having a 3D Printer in the classroom, students can learn various things, such as:

  - What Is 3D Printing

  - How Does 3D Printing Work

  - Creating objects in CAD programs

  - Assembly and maintenance of the printer

  - Properties of different materials and chemical reactions

  - Problem-solving skills, such as solving a need with 3D printed objects

  - A unique platform for artistic expression

  - Come up with ideas for products they can give as gifts or sell during fundraisers, etc.

  - Print out educational aids for various lessons

Ideally, the introduction of this technology to the classroom can, at the very least, provide another avenue for learning that is far beyond the tradtional textbook. It could also inspire a new generation to use their imagination and create something special that can be shared around the world.

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