Shane M. Fox By Shane M. Fox • January 21, 2018

How 3D Printing is Changing Education

3D printing is speeding design, prototyping, production and the way we learn.  

Additive manufacturing is growing at breakneck speed. With 2018 revenues projected to amount to around $13B, the industry is expected to break $20B annually by 2020. As 3D printing changes the professional landscape, we will see the influence in the education programs across the globe. And this sea change will happen sooner than later.

sea-3286647_1920Fifth graders are already implementing CAD to print prototypes focused on ocean cleanup initiatives, according to the Albany Democrat-Herald. Meanwhile, 6th graders are being introduced to educational, hands-on 3D printing learning opportunities, according to Turlock Journal. Verizon continues to sponsor their Innovative Learning program to bridge the “chasm between those Americans who are prepared to thrive in the digital age, and those who are not,” said Lowell McAdam, Chairman and CEO of the company.

Resources on the topic are influencing all education levels, namely in higher education levels. And increasingly, 3D printing is considered more and more intrinsic to concentrated degree fields. But regardless of how great of an impact we witness in education in the coming years, there are some initial fields professionals will see first.

 

Medical/Biology

Three dimensions better demonstrate physiological structures complexities than just 2. And 3D-printed biological components provide med and biology students a virtual hands-on experience. Models are more convenient for those students studying remotely or can’t be in a lab.

Three dimensional-printed models let students not only print complicated structures, but also print complex diagrams and tangible figures for simulated interaction. These simulations allow students fully and accurately understand human organs and otherwise microscopic organisms, such as viruses, proteins, bacteria and cell structure.

 

Graphic Design

For graphic design students more skilled with design software than they are with their hands, 3D printing is a major asset. Graphic design students can make their artwork come to life in any available material in extremely fine detail. This changes the means of production, allowing graphic design students to sharpen their design skills and express their work in new and exciting ways.

 

Architecture

Articulating a concept building as a detailed sketch into a model and then into a building is a powerful concept. Completing just the scaled model of the building can typically take weeks or even months. This is where 3D printers come in handy.  

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3D printers greatly speed the model-building process. Additive manufacturing in architecture schools will not only help them accelerate design, but will also speed the learning process. As 3D printing for large-scale architectural projects is increasingly widely accepted, the technology will be more intrinsic to the architecture curriculum. And not only for new builds, but for restoration as well.

 

Engineering

Allowing engineers to print out their design quickly and easily, 3D printing is increasingly invaluable to engineering students. Similar to how additive manufacturing technology is influencing architecture curriculum, it is also impacting how engineers learn their trade. The technology is allowing students to conceptualize ideas once not thought possible, faster than ever. And this technology is not only useful for designing what to build, but also what material to use for the process.  

 Additive manufacturing is revolutionizing education and production in design-heavy fields. The most sweeping component to how 3D printing is changing industry is speed.  The technology not only accelerates production in the field, but also the speed students learn their trade. Why wait months to build a prototype when it can be done in days or weeks?