3D Printing Technology is Introduced into Education
The fourth industrial revolution represented by AI, the Internet of Things, and informatization not only brings intelligent production and innovative concepts, but also brings new requirements for the basic education of young people. One example of updated educational requirements can be seen in how schools look to implement STEM. STEM focuses on educating students in four disciplines: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Both educational and public cultural institutions on all levels are considering introducing the latest scientific knowledge and technology into classrooms and laboratories.
3D printing meets current educational requirements for STEM, and therefore has been widely introduced into classrooms and laboratories of all types of schools. 3D printing promotes innovative teaching methods and increases the participation of students and teachers in classroom activities. In addition, 3D printing greatly stimulates students’ creativity and collaboration skills.
How Can 3D Printing be Applied in Education?
Educational facilities have the flexibility to choose from a variety of approaches in order to teach 3D printing. First, special courses are set up to teach students its principles and its applications. Second, educators make special teaching tools using 3D printing to help students understand textbook-level information. Teachers also introduce 3D printing in related courses such as industrial manufacturing and prototyping to supplement students’ learning. Third, educators can direct students to try model design and model printing with a real 3D printer, which greatly improves students’ design skills and practical ability. Finally, 3D printing reduces the cost and difficulty of making prototypes.
In general, no matter how much teaching changes, 3D printing will make the dreams and creativity of students and teachers at all levels become reality. As Jeff Farr said, “I hope that children can touch the things they dream of in their hearts. They can transform the dream into a 3D model, and then use 3D printing technology to make it physical, so that they can actually touch it.” Jeff Farr is a technology teacher at Tustin Foothills High School in California. He bought the Raise3D printer for his laboratory. Raise3D printers, such as the Pro2 series and E2 desktop 3D printer, have become the first choice of schools and educators because of their reliability, ease of use, and high performance.
School Education before the Introduction of 3D Printing
Before 3D printing was introduced in the classroom, teachers relied on multimedia and pre-designed teaching aids to teach new material to students. Students are limited to expressing their ideas through writing and two-dimensional or three-dimensional drawings.
Teachers and students do not generally have the tools to transform ideas into physical models. If both model design and prototype verification become available, then the process may not be cost-effective and have a high failure rate. However, 3D printing enables schools to cost-effectively make modeling part of the educational process.
3D Printing Intuitively Displays Teaching Content in Elementary Education
Educators, ranging from elementary school to high school, can apply 3D printing in classrooms to show the content they wish to teach more intuitively. At this stage, 3D printing technology enables educators to provide students with more detailed physical prototypes, helping students understand scientific concepts. For example, in elementary mathematics classes, teachers can use 3D printing technology to print polyhedral models of various specifications, and students can feel, measure and experience the difference in the models. 3D printing also allows students to learn in an exploratory way instead of focusing on textbook information, which can sometimes be outdated.
Tustin Foothills High School in California has taken the lead in offering entry-level mechanical engineering courses that connect to university curricula and help students understand engineering design. Teacher Jeff Farr has purchased several Raise3D N2 printers, which are demonstrably easy to operate. Students can master the basic knowledge of 3D printing in a day and practice printing nuts, wrenches, and other models. Learning 3D model design and printing helps students improve their creative skills and innovation. It also gives students the flexibility to try new solutions.
3D printing can also impact students’ extracurricular activities. Students can use 3D printing for faster prototyping and producing customized parts. For example, Tustin Foothills High School has a robotics project and an after-school robotics team. Students will design a robot’s arm and use the Raise3D Pro2 3D printer to print that robotic arm. Pro2 Plus is a large-size 3D printer, which means it can produce larger 3D printed parts and uses a 220V power supply, which is easy to move around and use in a classroom. The chassis is fully enclosed to prevent air pollution and is friendly to the environment. And the Pro2 printer can automatically print without the intervention of students to complete its print jobs. It is a safe workstation, which is particularly important for use in a school environment.
3D Printing is More Widespread in Higher Education
3D printing is widely applied in higher education. 3D printing courses are taught alongside professional courses such as engineering and applied sciences. For example, MIT has graduate and undergraduate courses that teach the basics of 3D printing. The University of Texas and Virginia Tech have offered courses covering 3D printing and additive manufacturing. As one of the branches of additive manufacturing, 3D printing is a technology that students who majored in engineering design and manufacturing should master. In addition to theoretical knowledge, 3D printing is applied in experiments and practical projects across various disciplines. Professors and students use additive manufacturing technology to complete prototype design and testing. They also apply 3D-printed models to the final parts.
The University of Tokyo has introduced Raise 3D printers into laboratories for students, professors, and on-campus companies. Students can use the Raise3D printer in the laboratory for fixture production and research. Students will write related papers and cooperate with the company to make fixture models. Before the introduction of Raise3D printers to the university, they used CNC, which was costly and wasted time, material and energy. After using a 3D printer, the university’s production time was three times faster, and labor reduced by 50%. The university was able to create an environment for students to practice 3D printing while reducing costs.
The teachers and students of Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro (ISCR) in Italy use 3D scanning and the Raise3D Pro 2 printer to repair and preserve Italian murals, bronze statues, and other artwork. 3D printing technology is a process of adding layer by layer on a flat surface, which is similar to the embossing and model repair process. Students use Raise3D official filaments and the OFP (Open Filament Program) to choose 3D printing materials such as wood filler, silicone, nylon, polycarbonate, carbon fiber, PLA, and ABS for printing. The variety of filament options allows students to imitate the color and texture of the artwork. The Raise3D Pro 2 printer provides teachers and students with a large printing area that can produce the models they need. Dual-nozzle printing allows two colors or filaments to be printed at the same time so students can easily print large-scale and complex sculptures. Students also used ideaMaker, an intuitive and easy-to-use 3D slicing software, to design and slice the model. The software is also available in multiple languages, including Italian.
Jon Goebel, associate professor of the Department of Art at the University of Hawaii in Hilo collaborated with the university’s ocean research team to obtain and visualize coral ecology using 3D printing to do this. Their goal was to attract the public’s attention to coral living environment and climate change. Goebel printed more than 100 extra-large coral parts and assembled them. The build volume of Raise3D Pro2 Plus is 12 X 12 X 23.8 inches (305 X 305 X 605 mm), making it the best large format 3D printer in Goebel’s price range. He has used Raise3D Pro2 Plus to print up to 6,000 hours-worth of work.
In addition, Goebel also chose Raise3D PLA as the printing material because it is a biodegradable bioplastic that can better catch people’s attention regarding coral ecology and plastic pollution. This project turns 3D printing technology into a bridge between environmental protection and human behavior, allowing people to understand that technology and nature can also coexist peacefully and sustainably.
The Future of 3D Printing Technology in Education
3D printing will become an important driving force to encourage innovation among students and teachers alike. Using 3D printing technology, students can be more involved in classroom teaching activities while better understanding prototyping using additive manufacturing and lay even more foundations for future education. 3D printing technology provides opportunities for more practice and projects for teachers and students in higher education settings, and will inevitably create a whirlwind of interdisciplinary and practice-oriented innovation in the entire education field.