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3D Printing in Education – How to Integrate 3D Printing at School

Picture of Genaro Ponce
by Genaro Ponce
May 8, 2019

3D Printing in Education – How to Integrate 3D Printing at School

3D printing is revolutionizing the classroom and how kids learn. Just think, you could 3D print to give a physical element to each lesson plan. If you're an educator, read on to learn everything you need to know about 3D printing in education as a teaching resource in the classroom.

3D Printing in Education 3D Printing is Changing the Rules

A teacher showing kids how 3D printing works.
A teacher showing kids how 3D printing works. Source: Myprivatetutor

3D printing is becoming a game changer in schools and educational centers. It provides a whole new level of creative teaching methods and understanding for students. And thanks to greater accessibility, it’s easier than ever to bring 3D printers into the classroom.

3D printing can be applied at all educational levels, from elementary schools to universities. Not to mention that almost any subject can be more easily taught with a 3D printer. A science teacher, for example, can have their students 3D model and 3D print a bottle rocket. Meanwhile, a geography teacher can 3D print the terrain from somewhere in the world to help the students better understand a region different from their home. This can help to make the learning process more interesting.

These are just a few examples, but the applications of 3D printing in education are quite vast. And it’s not as hard to integrate 3D printing into your curriculum as you might think…

3D Printing in Education Resources

Thingiverse is a great place for students to find premade models to 3D print.
Thingiverse is a great place for students to find premade models to 3D print. Source: Fontsinuse

There are a few ways to introduce 3D printing to your classroom. We recommend reading up on the different possibilities to find what’ll work best in your classroom. The internet is filled with information, but we’ve cherry-picked a few places, including 3D printing companies and 3D model repositories, that we think are the most useful:

  • All3DP: Right here, we have lots of information on 3D printing in education! Here are just a few articles:
  • MakerBot: One of the biggest 3D printing companies around the world, they fabricate accessible desktop 3D printers and offer an educator’s guidebook, certification programs for students and teachers, and free lessons. They also have their own software, Makerbot Print, which allows you to prepare, manage, and monitor your 3D prints all in one.
  • Ultimaker: Another producer of professional 3D printers that can be seamlessly integrated into the classroom. They have their own slicer software called Cura, which is free and easy-to-use. They also provide a lot of information about 3D printing for educators, such as beginner guides, lessons, ideas and other free resources.
  • Thingiverse: This model repository is Makerbot’s sharing community, where everyone can upload or download 3D models. It’s one of the most popular sites for 3D models, meaning the options are endless! They even have a Thingiverse Education section with teaching-specific 3D models and free lessons.
  • XYZ Printing: Another big company with a global presence, focused on bringing affordable and easy-to-use 3D printers to everyone. They develop products for hobbyists, educators and professionals alike. Their educational program is very complete with detailed lesson plans from elementary to high school. They also offer limited promotions for educators to encourage them to give their first 3D printing lesson in the classroom.

3D Printing in Education Best 3D Printers for Schools

The Ultimaker 2+ 3D printer is perfect for the classroom.
The Ultimaker 2+ 3D printer is perfect for the classroom. Source: Fabrix3D

There are quite a few 3D printers well-suited for education. Here’s a few of the best according to price, capacity and user experience:

  • MakerBot Replicator+: This is one of the most reliable and accessible 3D printers in the market. It has an enclosed area and can be controlled with a variety of smart devices. A lot of handy features, like an integrated camera and the LCD touch display, make it very attractive for students. It’s a perfect option for schools because it’s an accessible 3D printer that allows beginners and experts to start 3D printing straight out of the box. Additionally, MakerBot offers Educational Bundles when you purchase your 3D printer, including certifications and guidebooks for teachers.

MakerBot Replicator +

Product image of MakerBot Replicator + 3D Printer
  • Ultimaker 2+: This 3D printer produces high-quality 3D prints and is very simple-to-use due to the user-friendly design. It’s also a very safe machine because all the heated parts are in an enclosed area. You’ll have no problem using this 3D printer in the classroom. Plus, they have a suppository full of educational content.

Ultimaker 2+

Product image of Ultimaker 2+
  • Da Vinci 1.1 Plus: This 3D printer is another great option for educational purposes. It’s part of the Original Series of the company XYZ Printing, which are very reliable machines and simple-to-use. They are ready to be used out of the box and are designed with an enclosed 3D printing area that makes it safe and quiet.

da Vinci 1.1 Plus

Product image of XYZprinting da Vinci 1.1 Plus

3D Printing in Education Educational 3D Modeling Programs

Tinkercad is a great platform for students to design their own 3D models.
Tinkercad is a great platform for students to design their own 3D models. Source: Ultimaker

Now that you’ve chosen the right 3D printer, it’s time to choose the software that is suitable for you and your students’ skills. Here, we list two of the most simple and easy-to-use 3D modeling programs that can be used for 3D printing:

  • Tinkercad: This free online 3D modeling software was developed by Autodesk, the same company behind the famous AutoCAD. It is completely designed for educational purposes. It’s a great option to introduce beginners into the world of 3D printing, because it allows people to create an object by dragging and dropping primitive shapes, such as cubes, spheres or cones, to get started. The only thing you need to start using it is a good internet connection.
  • SketchUp Free: This is a slightly more complex 3D modeling software but with a very easy learning curve. The free online version has a simple toolset that allows anyone to start modeling from scratch. The tools are very intuitive and clear, and there are a lot of video tutorials for all levels available.

3D Printing in Education When the Bell Rings

You could build your own digital fabrication lab.
You could build your own digital fabrication lab. Source: kaboompics / Pixabay

3D printing in education is about not only being more didactic but also bringing concepts to life and enhancing communication between teachers and students by simplifying both theory and practice.

The benefits of 3D printing in schools are clear. As an educator, you’re gaining knowledge, curriculum, and new skills, yourself. For your students, you’ll be introducing a new technology to help them learn to think, design, and make things related to any subject, enhancing their creativity and improving their learning skills too.

With 3D printing companies offering more and more platforms and resources for 3D printing in education, it’s becoming easier and easier to implement 3D printing in more than just science classrooms.

You have nothing to lose! 3D printing may soon become a standard in all schools, so why wait?

Feature image source: ManufacturingStories

License: The text of "3D Printing in Education – How to Integrate 3D Printing at School" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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