If you’re still wondering what the whole 3D printing ruckus is about, you’re not alone. 3D printing was mostly restricted to large R&D and industrial settings until the last few years, so precious few people had the opportunity to be exposed to it.
This was mostly due to the serious cost of 3D printing equipment. But since 3D printing equipment cost has been falling rapidly, the technology is now firmly in the mainstream and more people have a chance to see how it works.
Basically, a 3D printer is a device that “builds” models, usually a little at a time and in layers, in order to produce a three-dimensional object. In this way, it works kind of like an Ink Jet printer.
When you print using a normal printer (such as an Ink Jet), you’ll notice that the sheet of paper comes out one bit at a time. When the printer works, it uses its principal material (ink) a little at a time and one line at a time, in order to fully produce a page of printed copy.
In the same manner, a 3D printer uses some material (plastic, foam or metal) to construct a three-dimensional object. It creates the object by using a little material at a time (usually a fraction of an ounce) and one layer at a time.
Although there are many types of 3D printers around, the most common one used in educational settings is the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printer.
While it attained popularity through the laboratory, 3D printing is now making its way into the classroom, and for several good reasons. Here are 6 of them.
Open new possibilities for learning
3D printed objects themselves constitute valuable teaching aids. Research has proved that visual aids can improve students’ overall ability to learn. They can help bring curriculum to life and engage students in a way that was not possible until now. An obvious example involves art and history.
School lessons are replete with famous artworks, geographical locations and fascinating objects. However, school systems rarely have the funds to bring students within touching distance of these objects. Most schools have to make do with photographic reproductions. But using 3D printing, these objects can be reproduced right there in the classroom where children can engage with them and experience fully.