3D printing is a technology that opens up many possibilities in the education world. A 3D printer operates on the same principles as a traditional computer printer, but instead of color being patterned on to paper, raw material is turned into 3D objects. It helps to picture a regular computer printer repeating the same printing job over and over again, eventually the ink would build up and create a 3D version of the print job. As with many new technologies, we have to ask ourselves what role it will play in the future.
First of all, 3D printing alone is worth exposing to our students. The process is intimidating because it is new but it is actually pretty simple. Because it is ran by a computer, and is done layer-by-layer, students can easily see how the software and hardware interact to create the product. In other words, there are a million things 3D printing can create that will enhance lessons, but on top of that, the technology itself is worth examining.
3D printing can enhance almost every subject. In art, students can create literally anything conceivable into a 3D object. In science, real, perfectly-scaled models can be brought to life. Complex geographical maps can be made. 3D printing would completely change how we view kinesthetic learning. You name it and it can be made.
Just like with all new technologies, cost is what keeps it out of the education world. But many people are convinced that this is going to drastically change the future. The ability to perform super complex tasks is going to be able to be done by the push of a button. Our students will benefit greatly from early exposure to technology that will dominate the future, and 3D printing is a prime example.
Here is a video on how 3D printing works: