Seven Ways 3D Printing can use for Education

Technology has made great strides in the classroom. From overhead projectors in the 1930s to handheld calculators in the 1970s to the normalization of computers in the 2000s, technology has helped educators make classrooms more engaging and prepare students for post-graduate plans.

Now, 3D printing has the power to revolutionize the classroom. Advancements in 3D printing have made the technology more accessible and affordable, leading to their rising popularity in educational settings.

Educators from virtually every academic discipline can use 3D printing in the classroom, for both in-person and online classes. When educators thoughtfully integrate this technology into the classroom, they can improve learning outcomes like improving analytical and critical thinking skills.

Read on to learn the seven ways that 3D printing is used to create hands-on learning environments, to empower creativity, to prepare students for the workforce, and more. They are:

1. Create a Hands-On Learning Environment
2. Empower Creativity and Innovation
3. Facilitate Real-World Understanding
4. Prepare for Post-Graduate Plans
5. Bolster Digital Engagement
6. Improve Problem Solving Skills
7. Leverage Design Thinking

Create a Hands-On Learning Environment

Students have more fun in class when the learning environment involves their participation. Spending time in class looking at slides can only do so much to pique their interest and hold their attention. 3D printing makes learning active, empowering students to use critical thinking skills in creating their models. Engaging classes mean students can better learn advanced topics while improving skills like problem solving.

Furthermore, 3D printing supports students with different learning styles: both tactile and visual learners benefit greatly from 3D printing.

For example, at Morrison Tech, nearly all their engineering courses incorporate 3D printing. Students learn 3D printing for product development and prototyping, creating functional parts like gears. Engineers go through the same process: by 3D printing, students can get a taste of how engineers do their jobs, gaining practical experience.

Stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing is ideal for detailed custom models, such as anatomical models for biology or medical disciplines.

3D printing is not just for engineering coursework. There is an array of uses for 3D printing across academic disciplines: biology students can print organs, chemistry students can study 3D printed molecules, graphic design students can create 3D versions of their art, history students can print historical artifacts, and architecture students can print 3D models of their building designs.

The hands-on learning environment is not lost with remote classes. As Michael Silver, an architecture professor at the University of Kentucky College of Design and Architecture, demonstrated, students were able to design building models that Silver printed and mailed to the students.

Having a physical model helps students understand concepts. Despite being a remote class, 3D printing made the class an immersive experience.

Empower Creativity and Innovation

Creative skills are not only underestimated, but critical to the development of a success student. Creativity is how new ideas and novel solutions arise. 3D printing is inherently creative, enabling students to think through how to solve problems with 3D printing, design models using CAD software, and figure out how to optimize the 3D printing process. Furthermore, especially for art applications, students can paint their models, taking their creativity to new heights.

Parts printed with SLA 3D printing boast a smooth surface finish, incredible detail, and are also easy to paint.

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