As revolutions in information, technology, and industry all converge worldwide, the future shines brightly for today’s students who are being given the tools to further advance STEM skills in specialized areas such as digital design and 3D printing. The question is of course in putting the tools in the high school and college labs and seeing what happens from there, and whether students use said tools as projected–or at all.
According to 3DPrinterOS, the success of their network is substantially due to the fact that students are indeed using the digital design and 3D printing tools by the droves–and logging serious hours on their 3D printing equipment, whether in the US, India, or New Zealand, with numerous metropolitan points and exotic locales in between. 3D printing in education is growing as administrators and faculty become educated on and interested in the technology–and more programs become available for the classroom and the curriculum.
In a perfect example of how all you have to do is give them the awesome technology and they will run with it, students have got those 3D printers running like crazy from nearly every corner of the world. The proof is in the data, and 3DPrinterOS has been busy collecting it, similar to 3D Hubs, whom they are outpacing impressively.
With a network that just began amassing users in mid-March, 3DPrinterOS has a network of over 2,000 online 3D printers. This includes 4,700 users in 920 cities, and comprises 83 countries. All in all, their users can boast a whopping 8,100 3D models rolling off the 3D printers since March. What makes the data even more useful is that in a relatively new industry, 3DPrinterOS does have something to compare their numbers with. Looking at data from the inception of 3D Hubs, it took the 3D printing hub pioneer over 32 weeks to come as far as 3DPrinterOS has in just several months.
And students, the future of innovation, are leading the way. 3DPrinterOS shows that in their network, an average of 90 hours of 3D printing is ongoing each day, with information collected over 90 days.
3DPrinterOS offers cloud-based software that facilitates great ease for working on all levels of 3D printing endeavors in the educational system as it is based around sharing, teamwork, and partnerships. Users can get involved in the process whether they have a 3D printer or not, employing one of the many worldwide hubs to 3D print projects that can be shared from the cloud.
3DPrinterOS works with any 3D printer and allows for advanced slicing capabilities, design and printer sharing, support and management for multiple printers, and cloud rendering of .stl files and G-code. Speed is increased exponentially, and 3D printing enthusiasts–especially novices–benefit from being able to use a standard interface offering simple tools that allow them to collaborate and share CAD files.
Half of the users employing 3DPrinterOS are either schools or entities that work closely with them. The advent of interoperability in software is making it easier for learning institutions to build makerspaces and 3D printing labs with a variety of 3D printers.
“Schools and universities have led the charge into networked 3D printing,” said the 3DPrinterOS team in a statement.
Pushing the STEM agenda isn’t proving to be very hard in schools. While a wide range of statistics show that historically schools and students were lagging in interest, skill sets, and preparation for jobs in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics upon graduation, the tides seem to be turning–and especially in the areas of digital design and 3D printing, drawing students to libraries and labs where previously they may not have shown much interest.
The tools are also much more streamlined for schools and administrations–as well as individuals operating hubs–for using the cloud to manage numbers of 3D prints, to manage usage, and to analyze data. And the bottom line is that students are willing to wait in line to use the machinery if necessary. While older generations may be skeptical, the majority of individuals at the student level accept 3D printing as a very exciting new technology that they enjoy hearing about and want to try first-hand.
“When Facebook was introduced, the first adopters for their social network were universities. By networking 3D printers and sharing access campus wide, schools are leading the growth of desktop 3D printing,” said CEO John Dogru.
While at first obstacles were in navigating a fledgling technology, pursuing expensive software and hardware, and then working through trial and error, now processes are far more streamlined, and there is a push for everyone to have access to 3D printing. 3DPrinterOS states that out of their top ten users, five are at the university level–and because of the networking capabilities available, for every 3D printer made available, the world is gaining two more 3D printing enthusiasts.
“The hold up is now the hardware…which used to be so far down the learning curve it was almost a non-problem. Most people give up at the software never getting to the hardware hurdles. Thanks to 3DPrinterOS, students have been able to leap past all that right into STEM learning,” said Justin Kelly, after school program coordinator and top 10 user on 3DPrinterOS.
Data shows that the top 3D printers being used are the MakerBot Replicator 2, Ultimaker 2, and Prusa i3 Hephestos. See the included graphic for the entire list. According to 3DPrinterOS, they are keeping their eyes on numerous up and comers in terms of new printer profiles in their network by way of the Kossell Mini, Lulzbot Taz 5, Airwolf 3D XL, Felix 3.0, Leapfrog Creatr and the BQ Witbox.
With the biggest question in 3D printing constantly being one simple and often repeated phrase–what could be next?–it’s obvious that the student population is where we need to look. If you are interested in trying 3DPrinterOS software, find out more here. Manufacturers can find out more at GitHub.
Have you used the 3DPrinterOS interface? How do you see interoperability between software and 3D printers affecting usage significantly? Discuss in the 3DPrinterOS forum thread over at 3DPB.com.