What is 3D Printing?

Also known as rapid prototyping, 3D printing refers to technologies that construct physical objects from three-dimensional (3D) digital content such as computer aided design (CAD), computer aided tomography (CAT), and X-ray crystallography. A 3D printer builds a tangible model or prototype from the file, one layer at a time, using an inkjet-like process to spray a bonding agent onto a very thin layer of fixable powder. The bonding agent can be applied very accurately to build an object from the bottom up, layer by layer. The process even accommodates moving parts within the object. Using different powders and bonding agents, color can be applied, and prototype parts can be rendered in plastic, resin, or metal. This technology is commonly used in manufacturing to build prototypes of almost any object (scaled to fit the printer, of course) — models, plastic and metal parts, or any object that can be described in three dimensions.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • 3D printing has an obvious application in extending the scope of practical work in technical/engineering subjects. However, to limit it to this domain of application would be a missed opportunity, when it could be integrated into FabLabs or Maker Spaces with scope for a wider range of creative applications. - jimdevine jimdevine Oct 24, 2013 Good idea! - stasele.riskiene stasele.riskiene Oct 30, 2013 Agree - Panagiotis.KAMPYLIS Panagiotis.KAMPYLIS Nov 3, 2013
  • I think this ties in nicely with the Maker Movement that is in some way about changing they way we work in schools. The mission of the Maker Education Initiative is to create more opportunities for young people to make, and, by making, build confidence, foster creativity, and spark interest in science, technology, engineering, math, the arts—and learning as a whole. Source: http://makered.org/about/ it has inspired educators to bring more hands-on learning into the classrooms. 3D printing will make it possible for students to produce something useful they might even sell. - ann.s.michaelsen ann.s.michaelsen Oct 28, 2013 I strongly agree that we need more hands-on learning into the classrooms and 3D printing can offer unprecedented opportunities for students and teachers to design, develop and produce their own creative products - Panagiotis.KAMPYLIS Panagiotis.KAMPYLIS Nov 3, 2013
  • I agree with the comments made, but another big issue that is conected with 3D printing is the development of entrepreneurship, specially crucial for some european countries. The possibility of finding a need to cover, designing the solution, print it and touch it or even try to sell it in school fairs could be great, at it covers the whole cycle from the idea to the "market".
    - gabriel.rubio.navarro gabriel.rubio.navarro Nov 3, 2013 Agree! The potential of 3D printing for fostering creativity/innovation and entrepreneurship in schools is huge - Panagiotis.KAMPYLIS Panagiotis.KAMPYLIS Nov 3, 2013

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Misuse of 3D printing (like gun printing, etc.) - stasele.riskiene stasele.riskiene Oct 30, 2013
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on European schools education?

  • The ability of technologies such as 3D printing to bridge creativity and technology cannot be overstated. - jimdevine jimdevine Oct 24, 2013
  • What could be more thrilling and motivating/rewarding for students than seeing objects materialise in front of them as the result of a task or problem they have just discussed or even solved. - helga helga Oct 26, 2013 Agree! - stasele.riskiene stasele.riskiene Oct 30, 2013 Totally agree- gabriel.rubio.navarro gabriel.rubio.navarro Nov 3, 2013
  • I see a huge potential in making the work the students do in school more relevant and authentic. I think we need to answer the questions why do we need to learn this, and that we need to rethink a lot that is going on in the classrooms to make school more relevant for students. - ann.s.michaelsen ann.s.michaelsen Oct 28, 2013
  • The UK Government has a new strategy, to use 3D printing to encourage learning in STEM and design subjects (link) and has produced a document looking at their use in schools - elizabeth.fitzgerald elizabeth.fitzgerald Oct 30, 2013
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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