Putting 3D Printers Into Schools

Premier Napthine campaining for re-election in Victoria, Australia

3D printers have come down in price significantly in the last 5 years, which now puts them into the range of being available to schools and teachers as part of the learning process. Last year, the US President Obama said in his “State of the Union” Address

Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio.  A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.  There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns.

Similarly, in Victoria, Australia, where we will go to the polls at the end of the month, Premier Napthine has promised to put 3D printers into every secondary school will receive $3000 to buy a 3D printer. The secondary schools will also receive $750 each in “consumables” to go with the printers. The Premier said,

This means nearly 400 schools across the state will be able to have these 3D printers

This impetus to put 3D printers into schools has achieved more and more attention with both small and larger 3D printer companies like Makerbot coming to this space. Makerbot founder and Chief Executive Bre Prettis is keen on getting his printers into every school in the US as a stimulus for creativity.

Instead of waiting for someone to create a product for you, you can create your own…It can change the whole paradigm of how our children will see innovation and manufacturing in America.

Combined with lowering the prices of his printers, crowd-funding and business support it seems that this might actually happen. This critical mass of industry, government and education might be enough to get more and more printers into schools.

Has your school got a 3D printer?

Read more:
– http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/victoria-state-election-2014/schools-become-battlegrounds-as-election-campaign-heats-up-20141027-11cihh.html#ixzz3Iu7aJdR0
– http://www.cnet.com/au/news/makerbot-wants-to-put-a-3d-printer-in-every-us-public-school/


3D Printing Healthier Food #3dprintingED

3D printing food has been an aspiration of 3D printing technologists. But the cost, with articles telling us that 3D printing meat costs thousands of dollars per kilo, it doesn’t seem likely in our future. I’ve written about printing chocolate, which seems like a very simple comparison. So what’s in between these two extremes?

In the following TEDx presentation, Lynette Kucsma talks about her company that is trying to print out healthy food using 3D printers. Can we print out tasty and healthy foods? Lynette says the answer is yes, and she talks about making such delicious meals, ranging from 3D printed ravioli to dinosaurs. Check it out 🙂

Voxeljet: Industrial 3D printing Boom or Bust?

It’s easy to be swept away in the hype of 3D printers and I thought twice about writing this article. I’m someone who is interested in getting 3D printers into primary/elementary schools so students can learn about the future of the wonderful 3D industry.

But, as someone who communicates science as well, I know that you can’t shy away from the difficulties of any technology or finding. Voxeljet are a company that seeks to deal with the high end of 3D printing. Their aim was to get their 3D printers into industrial processes such as car and airline manufacturing and spare parts. They successfully got people in their company when it went on the stock exchange and promised a big bold future. But as this video indicates, everything isn’t going so well. Check it out.

But what does this mean? Should we abandon our printers and prepare for the zombie apocalypse? No, of course it doesn’t. But while you and I might subscribe to the idea that 3D printers will be a blessing in the future, it means that there is a lot of competition in the industry that players need to take into account, or perhaps it means that 3D printers will never be used at an industrial level. Whatever the case, there will be successes and failures and we learn from each.

3D Printing Changing Your Point of View #3DprintingED http://bit.ly/1nxguhQ

I read this article today about 3D Printing Reshaping Universities. Published in 2012, it seems that some universities in the US were already moving to have 3D printers into libraries. The philosophy behind it seems to be that libraries were once a public space where people were able to interact with new technologies. However, in the past, libraries became places of quiet contemplation and books which changed much of this.

Working at a university, the libraries are much different to what they used to be. Whole floors are now dedicated to a community environment where students can come in, interact, use the wi-fi for their assignments or just surfing youtube while sipping coffee.

Opening up 3D printers in universities seems to be a way to bring students of disparate faculties together to try out their design creativity. I really like this notion of breaking down preconceptions about 3D printing and re-conceptualising them from your own perspective. It’s so easy to dismiss something as ‘too hard’ and ‘something I could never do’. I hear this a lot when it comes to science and mathematics and I really want to overcome it with my Pozible allowing teachers to come to terms with the technology of 3D printers, stopping a moment, then considering how they can apply this tool to their profession.

The article talks about students starting out with simple things such a busts of Yoda, or propellers, but further students talked about designing ways that the slowness of 3D printers could be overcome by designing new systems or new ways of printing. A science academic talks about printing molecules as a way for students understanding that molecules have a shape, something that would have greatly added to my understanding of chemistry at the time (and even now). Whatever the case, I suggest you jump into 3D printing and develop your own conception – see where it takes you 🙂


Molecule Jewelry

[Image Credit: http://media.onsugar.com/files/ons1/192/1922507/31_2009/6b04cd3024166a2f_Molecule.preview.jpg%5D


Week 1: 3D Printing and Education Pozible

If you’ve been on this page for a little bit, you might be wondering why I’m promoting 3D printers.

Well, I am running a crowdfunding Pozible campaign: http://www.pozible.com/3dthefuture

I’m very much interested in getting 3D printers intro primary schools (elementary schools in the US) and giving teachers the opportunity to use 3D printers in the teaching of science.

It’s been a week already and I’m about 20% of the way to achieving the $5000 I need to get two 3D printers for this project. I’ve been emailing, twittering and speaking to people in that time, drumming up for support for what many people I’ve spoken to have called

“A FANTASTIC project”

Of course, we’ve got a long way to go, so if you can spread the word around, with teachers, parents, techno-philes and students, I’d be greatly in your debt. If you can support the campaign in $$ that’s awesome, but if you can support it in some other way, that’s awesome as well 🙂

Here’s my video for the Pozible campaign, in case you missed it.


3D Printing Chocolate #3DprintingED

When I talk to people about 3D printing, they sometimes wonder how it will fit in to future technology. We’ve had mass manufacturing for so long, we are used to the scale of it, ideas that having spare parts is just inevitable (instead of printing out parts as you need them) and that few people would want to have personalised objects (e.g. prosthetics or even teeth). I had that conversation with a tech savvy friend of mine a few years ago.

BUT, people become interested at the idea of 3D printing chocolate. And it’s easy to see why humans love the idea of printing chocolate and its immediate positive commercial use and a wonderful PR exercise about the potential of 3D printers.

Here is a lovely time-lapse of 3D printing chocolate shapes.

But will 3D printers do more than this when it comes to chocolate. Printing basic shapes is fine, but will there be a time when we do more sophisticated things with chocolate? Will we have the technological dexterity to beautifully layer different chocolates with ganaches, fruit fillings and mints that make chocolate treats so wonderful. As a foodie myself, these things will take time, as different chocolates have different levels of fats and percentages of chocolate (e.g. dark chocolate, milk chocolate) that might need to be treated differently in a printer. As you can see in the above video, molten chocolate takes time to harden so the objects themselves can feel a little sloppy.

Will it remain a gimmicky part of 3D printing? Or will be it the future. Only time will tell.

Zaniac: 3D Printing after-school program #3DprintingED

For this project, I’m looking at what people are doing at the moment with 3D printers with students. The first program I found was something called Zaniac. They offer after school program in the United States, with a range of different activities revolving around a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Maths) program.

We built Zaniac to engage K-8 students around the world in supplemental science, technology, engineering, and math education – giving them the skills and motivation they need to create a better future. Our programs are designed from the ground up to prioritize fun, active engagement, and an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving. – From Zaniaclearning.com

From their website, it looks like the 3D printing program revolves around the students building their own 3D model over a series of lessons and then getting the satisfaction of printing out what they created. Aimed at 4-8 year olds, I think that’s a pretty good beginning at 6x90minute lessons. You could simply download a pre-created model and get going, but I think there’s something fulfilling about creating your own model and learning about 3D printing on your own.

I’ll be checking them out and will let you guys know more!