The Impact of 3D Printing on Education in 2017


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It’s important, no matter what stage of life we’re in, to continue learning more about the world around us, and that includes 3D printing technology. Over the last several years, the education sector has been working to improve lesson plans, making them more interactive and technology-based, in order to get young students interested in technology like 3D printing. This type of programming continues in educational institutions for older students as they get closer to entering the job market, and many adults in the workforce look to programs and workshops to learn more about 3D printing. We’re taking a look back now at how 3D printing technology has been used in education in 2017, from kids on up to adults.

3D Printing Education for Kids

Makerspace Boro’s 3D printer at Springboro STEMfest [Photo: Sarah Saunders]

STEAM education is a curriculum approach that uses science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics to guide students’ critical thinking, dialogue, and inquiry; it’s also referred to as STEM education. Dremel has long had a particular focus on education, and this summer introduced its DigiLab digital fabrication product suite, including the DigiLab 3D45 printer, which allows educators to enrich STEAM learning by sharing 3D printing projects and curricula. Winbo also released a 3D printer for the classroom this year – the kid-friendly Super Helper.

After MakerBot, which owns Thingiverse Education, announced a change in company focus from the consumer to the professional and educational last year, it jumped in headfirst, introducing its Grant Resource Guide for teachers looking to add 3D printing innovation to the classroom, followed by its cloud-based 3D printing My MakerBot platform for Google Chromebook classrooms and a new MakerBot guidebook for teachers. Philip Cotton, one of the first teachers in the United Kingdom to introduce 3D printing in the classroom, also launched a new 3D printing resource for teachers this year, and Dartmouth teamed up with Skriware to create an interdisciplinary, STEAM-based educational platform for kids.

2017 has seen plenty of innovative 3D printed educational aids and projects for the classroom – even 3D printed educational models for visually impaired students. In addition, America MakesPinshape, and 3Dexter have all held contests this year, with the goal of developing creative 3D printing lesson plans.

3D Printing for University Education

Kushbu Patel explains an eating device.

In terms of 3D printing education for the college and university level this year, MakerBot opened up another one of its Innovation Centers in 2017, while two creative university educators used the HP Sprout platform to design a hybrid video/board game, in an effort to reinvent how ecological management is taught in the classroom.

University students in Cleveland used 3D printing technology in a heartwarming project to help disabled veterans continue on with the hobbies they love, while a university in India inaugurated a waste management initiative, which will focus on teaching a 3D and 4D additive manufacturing course called Waste Management by Additive Manufacturing. The FAMU-FSU College of Engineering was awarded not just one, but two, educational research grants, while GE Additive announced that over 400 schools around the world would receive 3D printers as part of its GE Additive Education Program.

Youngstown State University became one of the only universities in the United States to possess all seven major methods of additive manufacturing, new 3D printing technology facilities were opened at MSU Denver and Wichita State University, while EOS announced this year that it would be expanding its Academia program, in order to promote powder-based 3D printing at universities, as well as research institutions.

Dr. Adrian Keppler, CEO and Speaker of the Corporate Management at EOS GmbH, explained, “As a technology and market leader, it is essential for us to prepare the scientists and students of today for the professional requirements of tomorrow. For this reason, with our Academia program we are specifically promoting universities and research institutions by providing them with the best possible and state-of-the-art equipment.”

3D Printing Education for Adults

ASU Associate Professor Dhruv Bhate, standing with fused deposition modeling polymer printers, is teaching three additive manufacturing courses on the Polytechnic campus, preparing engineering students for careers that involve industrial or aerospace-grade 3-D printing. The students will be working with both polymer and metal printers. [Image: Charlie Leight, ASU Now]

In terms of educating adults who are already out in the workforce about 3D printing technology, we’ve seen new 3D printing courses launched in 2017 at MIT and Arizona State University, along with Advanced Curriculum in Additive Design, Engineering and Manufacturing Innovation (ACADEMI), the first hands-on certification program in the US focused on designing and producing products for 3D printing.

“What ACADEMI is bringing to the table is an end-to-end approach to 3-D printing training, which is: you start with a problem statement built around a real, industrial-based application need, and you end with a capstone project that is actually demonstrating and validating the learnings in a real-world environment,” said Rob Gorham, Executive Director of America Makes.

In addition, the nationally-accredited, 501(c)3 non-profit school Workshops for Warriors is continuing its good work in introducing AM job training and certification initiatives to military veterans. Skills shortages for growing fields including advanced manufacturing are in focus around the world, with increasing efforts to overcome this barrier to growth in the adoption of additive manufacturing.

Discuss these stories and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts below. 


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