Hiroshima International University is an excellent example of how to use 3D printing in both academic education and community outreach. Japan’s Hiroshima International University first used 3D printing as a teaching tool to improve students’ learning experience, while exploring the different applications of 3D printing. The university then reached out to the community by organizing events aimed at familiarizing the general public with 3D printing while helping primary and secondary school students in need of prosthetics.
3D Printing Improves Learning
Before 3D printing was introduced into university education, teachers lacked intuitive teaching tools in classroom teaching. The only medium students had to learn from was through pictures and videos. Using 3D printing as a teaching tool within the classroom gave students another resource to learn from.
Therefore, when the Japan Society for Earth Science Education commissioned Professor Oharu Okada of Hiroshima International University to produce samples of geology and topography, he used it as an opportunity to use 3D printing in the classroom. His goal was to use 3D printing to make geological and topographic models to provide students with improved means of observing Japan’s geological structure and topographic changes.
Hiroshima International University Uses the Pro2 Plus 3D Printer
Professor Okada chose to implement 3D printing in the classroom with the Raise3D Pro2 Plus professional 3D printer. The Pro2 Plus features a larger enclosed build volume allowing it to print large models at once, ultimately improving efficiency and saving time. It is equipped with a dual extrusion system that gives it the ability to print two colors or filaments at the same time. This system has enabled Professor Okada to print geological models in multiple colors. Finally, the Pro2 Plus can print layers with a thickness of 0.01 mm, allowing it to create map models with a high precision.
3D Printing in the Classroom is Simple
Professor Okada did not need to outsource a third-party company to make the model, because 3D printing in the classroom is a simple process. First, Professor Okada used CAD software to design the geological model on a computer. Then, he converted the model to an .stl model file. Lastly, he printed the model on the Raise3D Pro2 Plus resulting in a 3D printed part. The simplicity of the 3D printing process allows Professor Okada to design models according to different needs while saving on time, labor, and cost.
3D Printing in the Medicine
Mr. Okada is familiar with geology as he is with other fields, such as medicine. Therefore, he also introduced 3D printing to medical treatments and medical appliance production. This time, Professor Okada used Raise3D printers to make models of human prosthetics and foot orthoses while utilizing the 3D printers in charity relief activities. For example, he donated human prosthetics made with 3D printers to local primary and middle school children who lost their limbs due to landslides.
Performing Community Outreach with 3D Printing
Hiroshima International University regularly organizes 3D printing educational events in Hiroshima City to improve the public’s understanding of 3D printing. For example, on October 1st, 2020, the university held an educational event in Kurose Town, Hiroshima City. Twenty-one students from Kami-Korose Elementary School participated and learned about 3D printing orthopedic models. Professor Okada showed the prosthetics printed on the Pro2 Plus to the students and instructed them how to use the Raise3D printer to print the 3D printed parts.
Since the Raise3D Pro2 Plus professional 3D printer has a large build space, it can build up to 30 cm in the X/Y direction, and up to 30 cm or 60 cm in height. This building space allows it to print prosthetics in one piece, saving time and labor.
The 3D printed prosthetics used in the event were made of Raise3D’s PLA filament. PLA was an excellent choice for the 3D printed parts because it is a non-toxic and biodegradable 3D printing material. As such, PLA is a 3D printing material that complies with Japan’s green environmental protection concept.
3D printers are user-friendly to schools of different levels
Hiroshima International University uses the Pro2 Plus within the university and to produce the 3D printed parts for their community events. However, there are other 3D printer options available for schools of all levels. For example, the Raise3D E2 is a desktop 3D printer that occupies a small space. The E2 also offers user-friendly features such as automatic bed leveling, so students can learn how to operate the 3D printer quickly. The E2 is also an enclosed 3D printer making it safe to operate within classrooms.
Due to space constraints, a desktop-level 3D printer was displayed this time, but the actual prosthetics and orthotics models used by children were printed using Raise3D Pro2 Plus printers. Although the Raise3D E2 is a desktop printer, it occupies a small space, has high printing accuracy and is very convenient to operate, making it suitable for schools and laboratories.
Hiroshima International University will promote 3D printing technology in the future
Hiroshima International University plans to continue using 3D printers in the classroom and in laboratories to improve learning. The university will also actively promote the establishment of the 3D printing knowledge college and regularly organize educational exchange activities to spread the concept of 3D printing to the general public.
The Pro2 Plus from Raise3D is precise and stable, with Raise3D printers currently used in more than 300 universities and colleges in Japan. Not only will it help universities and institutions carry out more research activities, but the printer is used in community education and learning programs.
In the future, Raise3D will assist more Japanese schools to promote the dissemination of advanced technologies, led by 3D printing, among elementary and middle school students and ordinary citizens.