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FEATURE: Do we need 3D Printing in Education?

We’ve all heard or read about the astonishing, fast-paced development of 3D printing technology – in fact, it seems that there is a new idea, product or potential game-changer that leaves you astonished every day – but, do we need 3D printing in Education?

Students from an early age learning and developing with 3D printing is very much a possibility – that is something that needs to be understood.  3D printers are no longer an unattainable piece of kit and that is why education has come into the equation when discussing this exciting technology.

If 3D printing is the future, then surely the younger generation should be at the forefront of any plans – they have to know how it works, how to utilise it and how to achieve with it.

Here at Printerbase, we became convinced by 3D printing after we made an investment to bring the CubeX Trio 3D Printer from 3D Systems into our studio, allowing us to get to know the device and its software.  From just trying to print various objects ourselves, we have acquired plenty of valuable knowledge that we are now able to pass onto our customers as a printer specialists.  However, most importantly, it has opened our eyes in terms of its potential when it comes to education.

We have taken notice of the amount of effort being put into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics [STEM] subjects in education at all levels – from primary right through to university – and we understand the vital role that 3D printing plays in this.

As 3D print technology continues to filter through all aspects of our industry and leisure pursuits, it has, too, been heralded as a vital part of education in the future as it inspires a new generation of students, designers, engineers and entrepreneurs.

The opportunities that arise from 3D printing are only limited to the imagination of the user – though, with intrigued and engaged students, that that should never be a problem.  From primary school pupils learning about Roman archaeology using 3D printed artefacts, Design students printing out their model prototypes or University students developing car design solutions, the impact of 3D printing is monumental.

The aims for Design and Technology, as outlined in the National Curriculum, are to encourage students to design, make and evaluate, as well as increase their technical knowledge.

The Department for Education’s aims for Design and Technology:

  • Develop the creative, technical and practical expertise needed to perform everyday tasks confidently and to participate successfully in an increasingly technological world
  • Build and apply a repertoire of knowledge, understanding and skills in order to design and make high-quality prototypes and products for a wide range of users
  • Critique, evaluate and test their ideas and products and the work of others

3D printing in Education covers all this and more – primary, secondary and further education students are given an exciting opportunity to see the educational topics in a new way.  From there, they can develop their ideas – not only in design and technology, but right across the curriculum – and acquire skills for a future, successful career.

In teaching pupils skills in problem-solving, research and development, as well as the technical skills, 3D printing will inspire both parents and children when it comes to your school or college.

Those in the industry have really bought into the idea of 3D printing in Education and bringing the ability to create prototypes into the classroom, but, of course, this means that we have to offer the very best in terms of support and back up – and that is what we are doing for anyone interested in 3D printers.

One example is King’s Academy, a secondary school and academy based in Middlesbrough, who, after being introduced to the Cubify CubeX 3D Printer by ourselves, are now using the technology as part of the curriculum they offer.  The reaction of both students and teachers alike was of captivation – they are genuinely excited about the possibilities these machines offer and are always looking to create.  It is the exact reaction that we had at Printerbase and, therefore, expected of others – is it time to experience this at your school?

As mentioned, that ability to quickly produce design prototypes in the classroom pulls together all the core subjects and allows for an incredible level of student involvement from the start to the finish of projects.  You can see this in action with schools and universities already working with 3D print technology to innovate and move ideas on.

The lowering costs of 3D printing now mean that it is possible for every school or college in the country to have some sort of 3D print equipment.  Also, with it being reinforced by the government’s recommendations in the National Curriculum for technology in schools, it is only a matter of time before every school does indeed have a 3D printing device that is used by students.

Make sure you’re not the ones left behind – choose inspiration, innovation and excitement and take your school or college into the future of education with a 3D printer.

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