3D Printing Revolutionizes Classroom


3D printing or additive manufacturing has been around for more than 25 years, but is still an emerging technology in the classroom. Educators and students alike are exploring the different ways that 3D printers can influence and enhance the learning in the classroom. Children love to explore and try new things, but many are afraid to try. 3D printing removes that fear, instead it embodies them with confidence to venture into new things. 3D Printing takes learning to new heights by capturing imaginations, testing ideas and proving theories in real space. 3D printing helps to fuels creativity when students get to see, hold and test their ideas in real space. Bringing 3D printing technology into the classroom exposes learners to the same cutting-edge technologies they will encounter in their careers.

3D printing will have a massive impact on education, particularity in the STEM areas. Combined with the Internet technology learners will have powerful tools to solve the problems they have in their learnings. For example one of the challenges faced by CAD instructors is to inspire students to design models and study engineering when they never actually see, hold, touch or feel their designs as a final physical product. To many students the models they design on the computer screen are often perceived as unobtainable fantasy objects. A 3D printer can take the 3D models the students design with computer aided drafting software and make the plastic versions. This is an important advantage that 3D printing can offer in the classroom. It is remarkable how prolific students become when they are empowered with the capability of making their 3D designs into real physical products. Online communities work together in this way, students can create 3D model to solve their problems and upload them to online communities and other people can view them and offer their suggestions for improvement. In the similar way students can use internet to find solutions that are similar to their problems, download and modify them for the particular issue they are aiming to address. Much like that of open source software.

With help from their teachers, students 3D printing skills not only gives them a jumpstart on technology they will encounter in their career, but also 3D printing technology can open up great learning opportunities while students are still in school. For example, students at Cypress Woods High School prototyped a roving camera for NASA using 3D printing technology. And engineering students at the University of Virginia build and program their own 3D printed mechatronic devices, and worked with Rolls Royce to learn what goes into developing an engine.

In the past 3D printers and 3D printing materials such as 3D printer filament were cost prohibitive. Now this emerging technology has become affordable and easily accessible to the masses. A school can have a dependable and high performance desktop 3D printer in the classroom at low cost. And schools can buy 3d printing material for as low as about $20 per pound of 3D printer filament for 3d printing applications in the classroom, which help more and more schools use 3D printing technology in their classrooms.



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