With 3D printing technology becoming more and more widespread, it’s increasingly important that kids be taught how to use 3D printers at a young age. Though 3D printers need to be introduced in ways that are fun and engaging for children, it’s also important that the activities kids perform using these devices are educational and beneficial, rather than just a mindless printing of toys or action figures. One of the best ways to balance these needs is to have kids engage in 3D printing as an artistic activity.

How to Get Kids Started Making Art With a 3D Printer

Obviously, younger children won’t be able to master an intricate design program like Blender to a degree that they’ll be able to actually use it. There are, however, more basic alternatives to full-scale design software. Among the most kid-friendly design tools is Tinkercad, a browser-based design software that lets users combine a variety of basic and custom shapes in whatever ways they want. This tool is good for kids because of its very user-friendly interface and its lack of complicated controls.

Once a child has designed a piece of art, he or she needs to be able to print it out. If you have a home 3D printer, this process can be as easy as sending the design file to the printer. Otherwise, a local makerspace or library should be able to help your child print his or her design. To maximize the educational value of the experience, try not to do everything for your child, but instead help him or her to navigate the process independently.

Why Is Art a Good Place to Start?

Helping kids create art projects using a 3D printer is a good way to introduce them to the technology for a few different reasons. To begin with, unlike printing existing designs, having kids create new designs helps them become proficient with basic digital design concepts, which are just as important as knowing how to operate a 3D printer. Printing out designs in different materials can also help kids begin to think about the characteristics of the wide range of materials that can now be printed using FDM machines. Finally, creating art using a 3D printer helps to engage and enhance a child’s creativity.

Having kids design their own unique pieces of art and creating those pieces using a 3D printer is just one of the many activities you can use to introduce children to 3D printing. The more kids engage with this technology while they’re still young, the more proficient they will be with it when they begin to enter the workforce.