What is 3D Printing?

Also known as rapid prototyping, 3D printing refers to technologies that construct physical objects from three-dimensional (3D) digital content such as computer-aided design (CAD), computer aided tomography (CAT), and X-ray crystallography. A 3D printer builds a tangible model or prototype from the file, one layer at a time, using an inkjet-like process to spray a bonding agent onto a very thin layer of fixable powder. The bonding agent can be applied very accurately to build an object from the bottom up, layer by layer. The process even accommodates moving parts within the object. Using different powders and bonding agents, color can be applied, and prototype parts can be rendered in plastic, resin, or metal. This technology is commonly used in manufacturing to build prototypes of almost any object (scaled to fit the printer, of course) — models, plastic and metal parts, or any object that can be described in three dimensions.

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

  • it would allow illustrative models to be easily created, and the possiibility of highly individualised experimentation. - David.Lowe David.Lowe Aug 28, 2013 agreee - Christian.Guetl Christian.Guetl Aug 31, 2013 - mohamed.jemni mohamed.jemni Sep 1, 2013
  • There are enormous applications of 3D printing in prototyping of molecular biology, tissue engineering & pharmacology models - Zeinab.El.Maadawi Zeinab.El.Maadawi Sep 3, 2013
  • Google Sketch-up as well as other graphic software becomes 'alive' and is no longer the innate object on a screen. Somewhat like one's writing when it finds an audience. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Aug 31, 2013
  • Access to low-cost 3D printing offers an exciting way to attract students of all ages to become interested in STEM.- amichaelberman amichaelberman Sep 2, 2013

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

  • add your response here
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on STEM+ education?

  • I am already beginning to see some (better funded) secondary schools purchase 3D printers and using them for ad hoc and just-in-time construction of teaching aids. - David.Lowe David.Lowe Aug 28, 2013
  • low cost creation of models and support in getting a better understanding - Christian.Guetl Christian.Guetl Aug 31, 2013
  • 3D printing links the letters: S + T + E + M = 3D Printing. A bit of stretch but this topic does create an interdisciplinary approach. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Aug 31, 2013 agree - Zeinab.El.Maadawi Zeinab.El.Maadawi Sep 3, 2013

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?


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