This week I read a post by Tryggvi Thayer on the blog Education4Site about 3D printing, a new technology I knew nothing about. The post describes the 3D printing process as “taking a computer generated model of an object, feeding it to a computer and having the object physically constructed by layering a material (usually some sort of plastic although some metals are used too) in the shape of the prototype model. The result is a physical replica of the computer generated model that you can pick up, use to perform some function or as a component in a larger, more complex object or machine.” What!??!! This seems like some space-age, science fiction myth, when in fact, this technology has been around since the late 1990s. Today, having a 3D printer at home is becoming possible, with 3D printers available for as little as $500.
It’s availability in the schools is definitely a new idea and will open up many doors for teachers, especially those in the STEM fields. The increasing demand for college graduates in engineering, design, architecture, and from other design-oriented careers calls for educational institutions to improve their programs and change the way they educate these future professionals. This 3D printing capability opens up many new doors for curriculum and project ideas, allowing students to have their designs manufactured and really come to life. I think visual models of their designs would entice many more students to follow one of these career paths and would motivate them to see their end product finished successfully. This technology also allows for more student team collaboration and for greater creative control.
For more information on 3D printing and its many applications, check out the below links: