This year, DCDS has increased the amount of 3D printers in all buildings to offer increased opportunity to integrate 3D printing across the curriculum. Over the past couple of years, this technology has been used by a few teachers on simple projects. This year DCDS has dedicated 5 printers at each building, all connected via the Polar Cloud, which allows teachers to manage the devices and student submissions for their classes. To some, 3D printing may be quaint and to others, it is very futuristic. When you see how this technology is changing industry and society in our world today, you will understand why this initiative is so important. Let’s take a quick look…
What is 3D Printing?
3D Printing is a process where students create a digital model, then send that file to a device which manufactures it into a three dimensional object. In the past, students would draw and print something on paper. Now, think of this as manufacturing and building an item they can physically hold and touch. If a student can think of it, they can build it! Think about the doors to creativity and innovation that are now open!
3D printed Measles Virus
3D Printing technology has advanced very rapidly. It is now widely used in all industries is extremely cost effective.
It is used:
- To prototype new designs
- To replace parts for machines or automobiles
- To build toys and trinkets
- To create prosthetic limbs and organs for humans and animals
- To manufacture housing
What Educational Purposes Does It Serve?
Bringing this technology into DCDS helps develop an array of skills in students:
- Identifying Problems
It starts with “How do we design…” or “Why doesn’t this …?” or “Can’t we do…?”. Knowing the problem helps students understand what challenges they’ll have to account for in the design process.
Everyone believes they have the answer until they try to make an item from scratch. If a person just jumps right into design, they quickly understand that there are a lot of things to take into consideration. What is the object going to be used for? How do the parts fit together to move properly? How does it interact with the bigger world at large?
I could build a block really well, but when I tried to make something with moving parts I had to turn to the human body and look at how joints were designed to move, then try to recreate that in my object in what I was building.
- Imagine and Plan
What are the key features like size, texture, flexibility, what kind of weight do they need to support?, What does it look like from every angle of view? All of these and more require extensive thoughtfulness and planning.
Recent advancements in 3D technology has spurred a rise in user friendly technology that even some of our youngest students in the Lower School can now use. In the past, designing in a CAD program required extensive knowledge and a sharp learning curve. Now, Tinkercad is a free program that even parents can use to design at home if they create a free account. The creation process develops conceptual thinking skills as well as process planning, organization and detail focus. Most importantly, all this is done in a fun and engaging way.
- Analysis and Improvement
The final product can be reviewed and analyzed for improvements. The object can then be modified and reprinted easily due to the very low cost of filament used on these objects.
- Preparation for a Larger World
3D Printing is used in many industries from art to engineering and healthcare to fixing social problems. The world is discovering a wide variety of ways to use this technology.
We are excited to have made these devices available for all our students here at DCDS. Teachers are receiving training and are exploring ways to work this new technology into their curriculum. The student response so far has been ranging from joy to excitement and feelings of successful accomplishment.
Check out these YouTube videos (by clicking the link) which showcase how 3D printing is being used today. From Building houses for an entire community to creating a beak for an Eagle who was injured. 3D printing is already changing our world: