As 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has integrated itself into day-to-day life, the number of applications for it has grown tremendously. One of the most exciting uses of 3D printing is in the educational sphere, where it can be used to help students better understand and engage with course material. The advantages of 3D printing extend across many different subjects. Here are some of the basic things you should know about why and how to apply 3D printing in classes across your teaching curriculum.
3D Printers as Educational Tools
In classrooms, 3D printers have two principal uses. The first is to print models that relate to the material a teacher is presenting. In this capacity, a printer’s function is to improve student engagement through more concrete interactions than a textbook or verbal lecture can provide. The element of excitement that 3D printers have for students who haven’t been widely exposed to them before can further facilitate this increased level of engagement.
The second use of a classroom 3D printer is to teach students the actual skills involved in 3D printing. Even though additive manufacturing is still an emerging technology, it is expected to play a large role in the manufacturing and design jobs of the future. Recent statistics have shown that roughly 10 percent of all businesses list buying a 3D printer by 2022 as a major priority. Among top manufacturing companies, a considerable majority are already using additive manufacturing in their operations. Since many jobs in the future will likely depend on familiarity with 3D printing, the use of a printer in the classroom to help students develop basic skills with the technology is a valuable educational experience in and of itself.
Classes in Which 3D Printing Can Be Used
Though 3D printing is useful in practically any class, there are certain classes in which it has more advantages than others. In a science class, such as chemistry or biology, a 3D printer can help create physical models that students can see and touch to gain a greater understanding of scientific concepts. In history classes, replicas of objects and artifacts from different historical periods can be created right in the classroom, providing an engaging learning activity for students. Geographic terrains and features are easy to replicate as 3D models, allowing students to better understand them. Even in math classes, 3D prints can be useful in helping students gain greater insights into complex geometries.
Ultimately, a 3D printer isn’t subject-specific. Instead, it should be thought of as a ubiquitous teaching tool that can enhance the educational experience for students. If your classes don’t already include 3D printing technology, consider getting a classroom 3D printer that will help your pupils learn and explore in new and exciting ways.