3D printing

3D Metal Printers for Education – Preparing the Workforce of Tomorrow

In classrooms, innovation hubs, fabrication labs and maker spaces across the nation, students are learning by including 3D printing. Previously, educational institutions had limited access to metal additive manufacturing printers due to their high cost and the use of hazardous materials. Now, affordable and dependable metal powder-bed fusion printers like the Form 3L are making it possible for teachers to provide students with hands-on experience.

Introducing 3D Printing to the Classroom

As metal 3D printing becomes a manufacturing technology, educational institutions need to ensure students have the right skills to be successful in industry. That’s why some schools are introducing the disruptive technology into their classrooms.

This hands-on approach to learning also helps students develop a deeper appreciation of the subject matter. For example, a student learning about the structure of cells might build a model of a cell, which helps them better understand how that part works. In addition, a student learning about the chemical reactions that create water might use a 3D printer to produce different parts of a circuit that shows how each component connects and how they work together.

3D printing also helps students engage with the world around them by allowing them to work on real-world projects and solve actual problems. For instance, students working with the Morrison Tech program at Penn State can collaborate with local manufacturers to 3D print low-volume end-use parts. This saves the manufacturer money by replacing expensive and time-consuming traditional tooling.

Additionally, 3D printing in the classroom makes it easier for teachers to incorporate project-based learning. This type of learning encourages students to apply what they learn in ELA, science, math, and other subjects to a real-world project, resulting in more engagement. Students can work with peers and mentors to design and build their own products, which teaches them how to work in teams and enables them to find solutions that fit their own learning styles.

Preparing Students for the Future of Manufacturing

In the world of education, 3D printing helps to position students as creators and problem-solvers. As a result, the technology empowers them to identify real-world needs and create solutions that make life better for people around them, like this awesome school nature play area designed by students or William Graeme’s world-first sanitary device for storing used blood test strips.

Until recently, metal additive manufacturing was limited by high costs and difficulty of use. But with the introduction of affordable, easy-to-use metal printers like Desktop Metal’s Studio, it has become possible to bring this disruptive technology to educational institutions. These new machines can print with stainless steels, tool steels and even copper alloys—opening up a wide variety of applications—and are more cost-effective than purchasing the same parts from retailers or custom manufacturing services.

Because the Studio uses a wire-based system to melt metal, it doesn’t require hazardous solvents and produces significantly less heat, reducing safety and environmental concerns. It also offers higher precision than laser-based systems, allowing for more complex and intricate features. And by removing the need for post-processing, the Studio cuts print time and labor costs.

For schools and colleges, the Desktop Metal Studio is a perfect fit. The system is available in a range of configurations to suit individual classroom needs, including an option for full installation, consumable replenishment, direct support and 1 on 1 training.

Getting Started with 3D Printing in the Classroom

With the right education and support, 3D printing in the classroom is a great way to teach students about manufacturing technology. Students can work hands-on with the tools that professional engineers use and learn critical problem-solving skills.

Visual learners are another group that benefits from incorporating 3D printing into their lessons. Whether it’s a model of an organ or a scaled replica of a historical landmark, seeing the concept or solution in real-life is more meaningful to them than just reading about it. The physical nature of the printed objects also allows them to study them from different angles, deepening their understanding and improving learning outcomes.

Using 3D printers in the classroom also teaches students how to work in groups and build interpersonal skills. As a team, students can collaborate on the design process to identify problems, brainstorm solutions and iterate on them until they are successful. These are important skills to learn in the real world and are a crucial part of the engineering process.

With a 3D metal printer, students can explore the full spectrum of materials. The Markforged Metal X platform prints in stainless steels, tool steels, copper, and inconel, which exposes students to the full range of engineering materials. They can also experiment with composite materials such as wood, plastics and metal foams.

Using 3D Printing in the Classroom

Schools that use 3D printers have an opportunity to provide students with hands-on learning experiences that are akin to what they will experience in the workforce. In addition to boosting engagement, these lessons help students solve problems, work more creatively, and become better prepared for advanced or complex concepts. Incorporating 3D printing in the classroom teaches students practical skills that will make them more valuable in the job market and increase their chances of success, regardless of what field they go into.

The possibilities for using 3D metal printers in education are endless. Using them in science classes, for example, allows students to see models of internal organs and chemical structures, while in social studies, a 3D printed replica of a historic artifact can allow students to interact with the object in a way they couldn’t before.

3D printing also enables students to experiment with design thinking, allowing them to build solutions based on their own identified needs. For instance, a penguin at Mystic Aquarium was suffering from an injury to her flexor tendon and needed a boot to protect and support it. Instead of handcrafting a boot, the aquarium’s veterinary team used their 3D printer to create a boot for the injured animal that would be easier and more cost effective to produce than a boot they would have made by hand.

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