Extruding Knowledge

Teacher’s Guide to 3D Printing Classes and Curriculum

3D printing classes

Looking for free resources for 3D printing classes? Read our guide to get 3D printing curricula, videos and materials for your classes. 

There’s no denying the growing need for students of all ages to embrace 3D printing in the classroom. The importance of understanding the technology and how the ecosystem operates, as well as hands-on education, cannot be overstated. The benefits of implementing 3D printing into STEAM-based curriculums are well-documented and have been spreading throughout the education system. They include new learning possibilities, positive engagement, innovative and creative learning environments, critical thinking, and problem-solving opportunities.

Across the globe, it’s not difficult to find 3D printer manufacturers or distributors specializing in 3D printing products and services geared towards education. Neither is it difficult to find inspiring student stories within this geographical region of how 3D printing classes have transformed their learning experience and inspired them to create original and well-thought through applications of the technology. This is all very positive momentum in the grand scheme of things… but there’s still something really important missing from the equation.

3D Printing Classes: Teachers are Most Important Part of the Equation

Colido 3d printers for the education market

The most vital group within the 3D printing education equation that gets frequently overlooked are the teachers. The people that are directly tasked with preparing students for the modern workplace. There are fantastic educational pioneers out on the frontline, excited by 3D printing themselves, and transmitting this passion into their classrooms. Moreover, increasing numbers of schools are buying into 3D technology for the classroom and the potential for facilitating learning activities across the newly developed 3D printing classes and curriculum.

But for teachers, there has to be a purpose behind the potential. Where do they go to find that purpose, particularly if they are not familiar with the 3D printing ecosystem themselves?

The Most Common Traps in 3D Printing Classes

Before we share our list of educational 3D printing resources with you, let’s get the issues out of the way first.

If a local education department or independent school adopts 3D technology into the curriculum, it sometimes transpires without a defined strategy. The budgetary issues, while not inconsiderable themselves, lead to further considerations — often used as selling points by hardware suppliers — such as safety, ease of use, reliability, and consumable costs. The best advice for any teacher tasked with buying hardware is to test it themselves in a workshop, or if time does not permit, find other users or sources of knowledge. User forums will throw up the best insight (positive and negative) when it comes sorting out what 3D printing hardware is right for your classroom.

And then there is the issue of integrating 3D printing classes in the most meaningful way possible. There is no getting away from it; if 3D printing is to be included in the curriculum, then the teachers dishing out knowledge need first to understand it. This requires comprehensive training and planning together ongoing technical support.

Resources for 3D Printing Classes

The following is a list of prominent resources for those looking to develop 3D printing classes and 3D printing curriculum. It is not an exhaustive list, and, in most cases, the materials are designed around specific types of hardware or educational fields. Nonetheless, we hope it will provide some useful information and go-to places for teachers and students embracing the 3D printing ecosystem.

Many of the following 3D printing companies offer rebates and resources for educational institutions, but each one differs slightly in content and types of 3D printing classes and lessons. Explore our list and find the best 3D printing education resource for you and your pupils!

Resources for 3D Printing Classes and Curriculum #1: MakerBot/Thingiverse Education

Since Stratasys’ acquisition of MakerBot, the company has developed a very specific strategy based on education with curriculum resources focused on every stage of education from Kindergarten through to technical colleges, universities and innovation centers.

While Stratasys and MakerBot both offer educational resources on their respective websites, the company’s 3D printing curriculum is currently driven by Thingiverse. This massive MakerBot-owned 3D printing marketplace includes educational resources like project modules, comprehensive 3D printing classes, lesson idea videos, and also student design competitions. Thingiverse is now one of the largest 3D printing educational resources out there, and offers ideas for 3D printing classes and lesson plans that are divided by subject and grade, making it easy for teachers and students to navigate.

Offers for 3D printing classes: Resources for schools and universities, lesson idea videos, classroom tutorials.

Cost: Free.

Website:  Thingiverse Education.

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Resources for 3D Printing Classes and Curriculum #2: Tinkerine

The Tinkerine U Platform has been specifically developed to promote application development related to 3D printing for education. Tinkerine U is built to provide a toolset for educators looking to successfully integrate 3D printers into the classroom. The platform is supported by ongoing “Challenge” initiatives that are designed with students’ learning outcomes in mind and to help educators fully utilize the hardware and software products designed and manufactured by Tinkerine. These 3D printing classes are comprehensive and focused entirely on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education to facilitate responsive learning programs.

Offers for 3D printing classes: Courses, Experiments, and Challenges from videos to hands-on projects.

Cost: Free.

Website:  Tinkerine U Platform

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Resources for 3D Printing Classes and Curriculum #3: Ultimaker

Ultimaker is another manufacturer of desktop 3D printers that takes its educational responsibilities very seriously. Obviously, like with the others, selling 3D printers is a primary motivating force. That said, the broad spectrum of 3D printing classes and educational resources that Ultimaker has developed are impressive, covering everyone from K-12 to college students.

Ultimaker also hosts the “Pioneer Program”, which includes over 100 educators gathering to share their educational experiences with 3D printing. The 3D printer manufacturer also offers a number of student-driven design contests and plenty of 3D printing classes/lessons to help teachers develop their own 3D printing curriculum.

Offers for 3D printing classes: Ultimaker Sponsorship “Pioneer Program”, Courses, Tutorials.

Cost: Free.

Website:  Ultimaker Education.

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Resources for 3D Printing Classes and Curriculum #4: STEAMtrax (Polar3D)

Ever since the acquisition of STEAMtrax from 3D Systems back in 2016, Polar3D has become a pioneer of 3D printing education. STEAMtrax is an innovative 3D printing curriculum that focuses on engineering and STEAM education. Each lesson integrates 3D design, 3D printing, and 3D scanning technology into the STEAMtrax Engineering Process.

By creating 3D printing classes that revolve around design engineering, Polar3D has built a 3D printing curriculum that teaches real-life applications disguised within fun lesson plans. The company recently partnered up with GE Additive to start the GE Additive Education Program. Over the next five years, GE is investing $10 million into educational programs. Each of the selected schools will receive a Polar classroom package that includes 3D printers and access to the STEAMtrax Curricula.
Offers for 3D printing classes: Comprehensive learning modules, problem-based critical thinking skills, focus on engineering

Cost: Varies on lesson plan.

Website:  Polar3D

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Resources for 3D Printing Classes and Curriculum #5: Leapfrog

Another desktop 3D printer manufacturer with a keen focus on 3D printing education is Leapfrog. This company offers a slight variant in its approach that pushes the rhetoric out quite powerfully together with specific educational bundles for sale. As well as the 3D printer and consumables, this includes specific 3D printing classes and lesson plans that are well-tailored to their hardware.

For example, the Leapfrog Bolt is a 3D printer packaged for educational purposes. The printer is primed for the classroom, including a closed off build volume and a filter for clean air emission. Leapfrog also offers a wide range of free 3D printing lesson plans on their 3D Courses web portal.

Offers for 3D printing classes: 3D printing lesson plans for primary education and High Schools.

Cost: Free.

Website:  Leapfrog Education.

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Resources for 3D Printing Classes and Curriculum #6: Makerversity DIY

With a more wide-reaching focus that goes beyond 3D printing and includes all types of DIY project, Makerversity DIY offers hands-on lessons for teachers and students. Whether it’s building a workbench or 3D designing and printing custom cookie cutters, each lesson plan is comprehensive. Inside you’ll find a teacher’s guide, lesson plan, step-by-step presentation, and more. What makes Makerversity’s 3D printing classes special is the intensive and explanatory nature of each lesson plan, ensuring that every student obtains the most fulfilling learning experience possible.

Offers for 3D printing classes: 3D printing courses and 3D printing teacher training.

Cost: Varies by lesson plan.

Website: Makerversity DIY

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Resources for 3D Printing Classes and Curriculum #7: Printrbot

Back in 2014, one of the original and consistently open desktop 3D printer developers, Printrbot initiated its own 3D printing learning center. On this basis, Printrbot took a different approach from the beginning and started crowdsourcing 3D printing educational materials from people working on the frontline — in classrooms, colleges, after-school programs, and maker spaces — to produce open and public resources that can benefit everyone.

Aside from selling their printers at a discount for educational purposes, Printrbot also created a learning portal that is fully open access and hardware neutral. Aside from offering their own 3D printing classes, Printrbot provides additional educational resources like HoneyPoint3D and the 3D Printing in the Classroom iBook.

Offers for 3D printing classes: Printers, projects, videos, tips, files.

Cost: Free.

Website:  Printrbot’s 3D Printing Learning Center.

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Resources for 3D Printing Classes and Curriculum #8: Dremel

Another desktop 3D printer manufacturer that has focused on 3D printing education is Dremel and its 3D Idea Builder. The difference between most other manufacturers is that Dremel’s platform has been designed and developed specifically for educational (and home) environments. The emphasis is very much on ease of use, safety, and reliability — wrapped up in a familiar and trusted brand. Dremel also promises educators its “world class support” services. None of this can be overlooked. Beyond these things, Dremel has also developed specific 3D printing classes and lesson plans and worked in partnership with other organizations to produce 3D printing curriculum resources.

Offers for 3D printing classes: 3D printing lesson plans.

Cost: Free.

Website:  Dremel.

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Resources for 3D Printing Classes and Curriculum #9: Pitsco

Based in the US, Pitsco is a good example of using collaboration to breed 3D printing education. The company, founded in 1971 by three teachers, has partnered up with 3D printing company Afinia. As a result, they have developed STEM curriculum materials for K-12 schools, to support the successful implementation of 3D printing in classrooms all over the country.

Offers for 3D printing classes: 3D printing curriculum materials for schools; special 3D printing for schools package.

Cost: Varies by lesson plan.

Website:  Pitsco.

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Resources for 3D Printing Classes and Curriculum #10: SeeMeCNC

SeeMeCNC’s educational initiative, called SeeMeEducate, is yet another valuable resource for 3D printing education. SeeMeEducate aims to support innovative and stimulating ways of teaching STEM and creative subjects through a 150+ page curriculum for teaching 3D printing in the classroom —from the basics, like software and machine operation, through to developing hands-on skills with a 3D printer. The 3D printing curriculum materials have, once again, been developed by teachers and are open and updated often.

Offers for 3D printing classes: 150+ page 3D printing curriculum, community.

Cost: Free.

Website:  SeeMeCNC.

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Resources for 3D Printing Classes and Curriculum #11: Black Country Atelier

In the UK, Black Country Atelier (BCA) has developed a specific program built around developing technical skills and includes 3D printing. The Smart Product Design and Manufacture Technical Award is recognized as equivalent to a GCSE qualification. Moreover, BCA offers dedicated teacher training courses to support teachers in the classroom, with design and 3D printing technologies. The company is endorsed by a number of universities, as well as TCT.

Offers for 3D printing classes: 3D printing courses (UK only) and 3D printing teacher training.

Cost: Free.

Website: Black Country Atelier.

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3D Printing Classes in Schools: Conclusion

At this point in the youthful 3D printing timeline, the main take away for educators incorporating 3D printing classes into their curriculum is that there are many options and resources available to them. Just five years ago, this was not the case, serving to solidify the overall progress that is being made. 3D printing education becomes more important and accessible as educators hope to prepare their students for the ever-transitioning workforce.

The teachers, on the front line every day, are bringing this knowledge and experience to the next generation of students, and undoubtedly deserve every facet of our respect and support. As this list showcases, the 3D printing community falls in line with this belief, and have made major strides to integrate 3D printing into the classroom.