What is 3D Printing?

Known in industrial circles as rapid prototyping, 3D printing refers to technologies that construct physical objects from three-dimensional (3D) digital content such as 3D modeling software, computer-aided design (CAD) tools, computer-aided tomography (CAT), and X-ray crystallography. A 3D printer builds a tangible model or prototype from the electronic file, one layer at a time, through an extrusion-like process using plastics and other flexible materials, or an inkjet-like process to spray a bonding agent onto a very thin layer of fixable powder. The deposits created by the machine can be applied very accurately to build an object from the bottom up, layer by layer, with resolutions that, even in the least expensive machines, are more than sufficient to express a large amount of detail. The process even accommodates moving parts within the object. Using different materials and bonding agents, color can be applied, and parts can be rendered in plastic, resin, metal, tissue, and even food. This technology is commonly used in manufacturing to build prototypes of almost any object (scaled to fit the printer, of course) that can be conveyed in three dimensions.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • A variety of software to make 3D modelling easy have become available. With 3D printing learners can now make ideas real by creating good solutions/prototypes to e.g. a design challenge. It will be affordable to visualize, test, evaluate and alter creative ideas. - jakob.harder jakob.harder Dec 2, 2014 - stefan stefan Dec 4, 2014 - thih thih Dec 6, 2014- morten.soby morten.soby Dec 7, 2014
  • 3D-printing shortens the distance between an abstract model on your computer to a physical product. This can be especially helpful for low achieving students that struggles with theory and abstract concepts. It is also a good way of making education more relevant for the vocational studies. - jostein.kvisteroy jostein.kvisteroy Dec 4, 2014 - stefan stefan Dec 4, 2014- morten.soby morten.soby Dec 7, 2014
  • I think that 3D printing can be a good way to get traditionally practical subject such as technology to modernize and explicitly linked to computers, internet, and opportunities with these tools. - helena.kvarnsell helena.kvarnsell Dec 4, 2014
  • 3D printing and Fabrication Laboratory makes it possible til promote abduction and design-based learning i schools. - thih thih Dec 6, 2014- morten.soby morten.soby Dec 7, 2014
  • Abstract subjects become tangible for students and the understanding of complex ideas improves.
    - vibeke.klovstad vibeke.klovstad Dec 7, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • It provides teachers with 3 dimensional visual aids that they can use in their classroom particulalry in illustrating a hard to grasp concept- vibeke.klovstad vibeke.klovstad Dec 7, 2014
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?