3D Printing is less Costly and More Readily Available Then Most People Realize.
Did you know that you can buy a 3D printer from Amazon.com for $1200 and start creating thousands of different items in your home or classroom today. Seriously – here's a link to the FlashBorge 3D Printer on Amazon ($US 1,199.00 as of the writing of this article), and here's a link to Thingyverse, where you can find thousands of different designs that tell the printer what to print – anything from a frog dissection kit to an automatic transmission model. Everyone I talk to about this is pretty amazed that this technology is that far along and available for affordable purchase and use. The potential for the use of this new technology is education is vast and exciting.
Forbes reported that “3D Printing Will Transform Education” in 2011, and now the 2014 Horizon Report from NMC and EDUCAUSE has stated that 3D Printing is a technology that will see wide spread adoption in the 2 to 3 year time frame.
The Potential – What 3D Printing Will Make Possible in Coming Years
The possibilities for 3D printing and how it will be used in the coming decade and on into the future are pretty mind boggling. Printing human organs, foods, and sadly, things like weapons. This news video from GlobalNews provides a great overview of these exciting and occasionally controversial innovations. Holy Star Trek fabricator, Batman! Before we know it, we will move from downloading music and movies to downloading objects.
The Reality – What Schools are Doing With 3D Printers Today
3D printers are being used right now is schools across the world. Here's a bunch of examples:
- Virginia Tech is hosting a student competition to create 3D printed aircraft and vehicles.
- Middle School students at Renbrook School in West Hartford, Connecticut have used their printer to print parts to repair broken items at their school.
- An elementary school in Chicago is using 3D printers to set up a “Makers' Labs”.
- A science teacher at Marblehead Community Charter School in Marblehead, Mass. used a 3D printer to make a prosthetic hand.
- A student at Clevedon School in the UK used 3D printing to prototype a stage set for a small or traveling theater company.
These are just a few of the many examples out there. As the technology continues to improve and become even more affordable and capable, 3D printers are sure to become standard equipment in schools and classroom everywhere … it's only a matter of time.
How about you? What would you use a 3D printer for in your classroom?
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