Week 7: How can 3D Printing Change the Way We Think About Education?

To answer this weeks essential question I think that 3D printers can change the way we think about education, but not change it in a significant way.  Again, it is hard to sort through to hype to get to the substance with 3D Printers.  Are they the savior of education or just another great tool that good teachers will be able to use effectively?

TJ MCcue in his article “3D Printing Will Transform Education” quotes Bre Pettis, of MakerBot Industries, “Imagine if you had a 3D printer instead of a Lego® set when you were a kid; what would life be like now, asks Mr. Pettis. You could print your own mini-figures, your own blocks, and you could iterate on new designs as quickly as your imagination (and your printer) would allow.”

What Bre Pettis is alluding to is how 3D printers can change education.  Students can imagine things, come up with solutions and wild ideas and 3D printers can print models, demos and parts in a quick and relatively cheap way.  This means students can imagine and design robots, print them and see if they work as designed.  They can come up with wild inventions and print models to see if they work.  They can come up with products, print them, sell and make money from them.

The 3D printer gives everyone a simple, easy and fairly cheap way to make an idea a tangible object.  This will change education in that it make resources more easily available to students.  This makes the creative process faster, leaves out the middle man and puts the student in the driver seat.   I have to admit I am excited about printing 3D art projects.  You can view a picture of a cool art project from Eddie Krassenstein’s article, “Why 3D Printing Needs to Take Off in Schools Around the World,” which can be found at https://3dprint.com/27743/3d-printing-benefits-schools/.  I also think the printing of cloth or clothes printed to your exact measurement would be really cool. (Voo., B. 2016)

Unfortunately, this doesn’t change education in any fundamental way.  It is like going from a slow computer to a faster computer.  It is still a computer, but it is better. While printing a part may be cheaper and faster than ordering the actual part, it is still not always the best option.  These printer are still expensive to purchase, it is expensive to purchase the medium and it takes a long time to print compared to normal printers.  To assume that every child could print whatever they want, whenever they want is not reasonable or practical. The plastic that is used to print can also melt or deform under little stress or heat.  As these printers get better, faster and cheaper this may change, but right now they will probably used rarely and for special projects.


Here is a picture of my daughter with a 3D chair that she printed.  She created 2D and 3D plans on AutoDesk and then printed a 3D model.  Our construction class will then use these plans and the model to help them actually build these chairs.  This is one way that HHS is already changing how we imagine education.


Chilson, L. (2016). The difference between ABS and PLA for 3D printing. Retrieved on 7-1-16 at 11:00 pm.  Found at http://www.protoparadigm.com/news-updates/the-difference-between-abs-and-pla-for-3d-printing/ .

Federico-O’Murchu, L. How 3-D printing will radically change the world.  Retrieved on 7-1-16 at 11:00 pm.  Found at https://wordpress.com/post/uas635.wordpress.com/740.

Krassenstein, E. Why 3D printing needs to take off in schools around the world.  Retrieved on 7-1-16 at 11:05 pm. Found at https://3dprint.com/27743/3d-printing-benefits-schools/.

McCue, T. 3D printing will transform education. Retrieved on 7-1-16 at 11:00 pm.  Found at http://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2011/11/01/3d-printing-will-transform-.education/#775c6c12b7f4.

Voo, B. 20 amazing creations you can make with 3D printing. Retrieved on 7-1-16 at 11:00 pm.  found at http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/3d-printings/.

By waclawskid

8 comments on “Week 7: How can 3D Printing Change the Way We Think About Education?

  1. “Are they the savior of education or just another great tool that good teachers will be able to use effectively?” This is a great point and I definitely saw this being brought up in the articles. Some people are getting so caught up in the hype of 3D printing. It is so easy to get caught up and forget that a 3D printer is just another tool. All of our students are different which makes it nearly impossible to have a silver bullet. 3D printing can also only be as successful as the teacher uses it. There are many kinks in 3D printing that still need to be worked out, but the real bonus is that students are learning to deal with setbacks. They learn how to dream and put that into an actual object. This is why I believe 3D printing could really enhance education, especially for students who seem disconnected.

    • Sara,
      You last sentence describes my thoughts on most of technology. “…3D printing coule really enhance education.” I believe that statement is accurate and true. I will be fun to see what happens.

  2. I agree with your statement above “Unfortunately, this doesn’t change education in any fundamental way. It is like going from a slow computer to a faster computer. It is still a computer, but it is better.” A 3D printer certainly won’t significantly change education. Education in a sense must remain fairly constant in many ways, however the delivery of the exposure to different forms of learning will and has changed every year, sometimes every day. I”m sure that there will still be paper and pencils for many, many years to come….perhaps. Or kids can print their own paper and pencils and be ready for class!

  3. Douglas,

    Week 7:

    The way we use 3D printers to teach has everything to do with using these tools as another approach for accessing what our students are visualizing. To extract the vision of our students, we must first bridge over to note whether they are seeing something completely different from the perspective of experiences in their own lives. Rather than seeing this as erroneous or inaccurate, is what they are seeing some application that we had not considered from our own life experiences than what we are seeing now? Wouldn’t a 3D printer help us to behold an outward expression of what they are trying to teach us? As I think about the schemata that our students carry with them—sometimes I laugh at how what I am teaching is construed in their minds. Are we not actively involved in a two way learning process, learning from each other’s attempts to produce an item, scene or artifact to communicate how we perceive that?

    Making something to express part of learning is also a process. The Computer Assisted Design (CAD) connects making to skills students will need as they reach out to the current career world. The more they use software to draw a design that is in their mind and actually use this to make something, the easier it will be to use similar software in the future when faced with this on the job.

  4. I agree with your statement. I would be great to get an idea of what they are learning in order to see exactly what they are thinking and to find areas of misunderstanding. This is a way that I think 3D printers will excel at in the future.

  5. Pingback: Reflection for EDET678 Week 7: How can 3D Printing Change the Way We Think About Education? | aleta57

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