5 Benefits of 3D Printers in Education

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Educators recognize and understand the value of fully engaged students in the classroom. When students are immersed in a new topic that they find thrilling, the curriculum becomes fun for everyone involved.

Beyond the fun, engaging nature of 3D printing in the classroom, there are plenty of benefits that educators can reap when incorporating this technology into lesson plans. 3D printers are an excellent tool that can enhance learning processes across many subjects, including engineering, science, art, history, geography, and math.  

With 3D printing technology, students can gain hands-on experience in ideating and prototyping solutions to real-world problems, see curriculum concepts come to life, or simply gain valuable experience in design, theory, and object manipulation — all under the guise of having fun.

Here are five benefits of using 3D printers in education:

1. Introduce Students to Design Thinking Concepts

Design thinking centers around creating effective solutions by determining the root of the problem and iterating prototypes to solve that problem.

Applying the design thinking process with 3D printing technology allows students to iterate, prototype, and test their solutions in real life. Students benefit from learning that it is acceptable to fail on the first attempt and learn from that experience to improve their designs through troubleshooting. Becoming comfortable with this iterative process builds confidence and perseverance in problem-solving, an invaluable life skill.  

Teaching design thinking to students equips them with the skills needed to solve problems in the real world, shaping the leaders of tomorrow.  

design thinking process empathize define ideate prototype and test

 2. Solve Real-World Problems

Today's students will become tomorrow's leaders, and we all benefit from them getting a jump-start on solving the challenges that face us all, including climate change, poverty, clean energy, and more.  

Present your class with a real-world problem and challenge them to create a solution with a 3D printer. Their ability to empathize, collaborate and create an innovative solution will unlock their creativity and allow their imagination to soar! 

Incorporating a 3D printer into a design challenge helps translate theoretical concepts into real-world applications, enabling students to solve problems collaboratively while testing the effectiveness of their solutions. 

Not only that, but they will also create solutions the same way real companies do. 3D printing is used across multiple industries for quicker, easier, and more affordable prototyping. Practical learning experiences like these prepare students for future careers in fields like engineering, manufacturing, healthcare, and more.  

Giving students room to explore and experiment improves their learning experience and equips them with practical problem-solving skills that translate into real-world solutions.

 3d printer printing white shoe soles

3. Compliment Lessons in Various Subjects

Whether you’re teaching science, English, geography, music or math, students can benefit from 3D printing being incorporated into lessons across every subject.  Learning comes to life when a student holds a 3D printed model in their hands, taking the place of looking at a picture in a textbook.  

Improve student engagement by including 3D printed models in lessons with the following ideas:  

  • Design and 3D print a molecule and similar microscopic objects to complement a chemistry lesson.  
  • Get hands-on with geography by printing 3D models of topography or population maps.  
  • Bring history to the present with 3D-printed models of historical landmarks and artifacts.  
  • Print realistic 3D models of organs to give hands-on experience to biology students.   

With a bit of imagination, 3D printers can be used in every subject and give students access to practical knowledge and real-world applications. For more inspiration on 3D print files for a variety of school subjects, check out our blog post here. 

collection of 3D printed objects used in education

4. Develop Future Inventors

Every student becomes an inventor when they use a 3D printer. Instead of buying something, they can create it themselves!    

Introducing a budding inventor to a 3D printer is an effective and efficient way to inspire them to begin the innovation process. It’s faster than ever to conceptualize designs, innovate and iterate until the ideal solution has been found.    

Supporting students with the right tools, resources, and guidance equips them with the confidence to create a solution based on an identified need. Like design thinking, students can create a prototype, design, and iterate it until the solution works, teaching them valuable critical thinking skills through trial and error.

bright pink 3D printed pieces to build object

5. Engage Varying Learning Styles

Educators know there is more than one way to teach a lesson. Students have different learning styles that require complementary teaching methods. Two of the types of learners that can benefit greatly from 3D printing in education are visual and linguistic leaners.  

By incorporating 3D printing into a lesson plan, visual learners benefit from seeing a model, concept, or solution in real-life – not just in a textbook. Whether it’s a 3D printed model of the human heart or a small-scale replica of a historical monument, visual leaners can analyze the print from all angles, deepening their understanding and improving learning outcomes.  

Students with a kinesthetic learning style benefit from hands-on experiences that allow them to bring ideas or concepts to life. Having a physical object that relates to a lesson plan will enhance student learning by creating opportunities for students to build spatial intelligence, manipulate physical objects and hold their solution in real-life.  

3D printed learning tools for biology study includes part of spinal cord heart dissected frog and petri dish

Ready to Introduce 3D Printing Technology in the Classroom? 

3D printers unlock a world of potential both for individual student development and classroom engagement for educators. 3D printers are a powerful tool for creating models to supplement lesson plans, and the process of the 3D printing itself provides an amazing experiential learning opportunity for students to build creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.  

At InkSmith, it’s our mission to bridge gaps in STEAM by empowering educators to introduce 21st century technology in their classrooms. We offer the latest in educational technology products, from 3D printers, laser cutters and robotics kits, as well as educator training to make their introduction into the classroom seamless.   

If you’re looking to incorporate 3D printing technology into your classroom, we’re here to help. Contact a member of our team to find out which 3D printer is right for you or to book your training session