In the Classroom and Beyond, Colleges Find Ample Uses for 3D Printing

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In the Classroom and Beyond, Colleges Find Ample Uses for 3D Printing
This week my 10 year old son 3D printed a fidigt spinner at the new Digital Scholarship Commons lab at the University of Victoria, and last weekend at the Creative Commons Global Summit, CC’s CEO Ryan Merkley unveiled a 3D project recreating the column of Palmyra, Syria that included a 7 foot 3d printed replica of one of the Palmyra Tetrapylons recently destroyed by ISIS.

3D printing is moving into the mainstream, and higher ed institutions who were early in the game and bootstrapped small on-campus makerspaces are now in a good position to begin to reap the benefits of that early experimentation. Not only is there a manufacturing demand for hard skills in 3D design & printing, but institutions that make 3D printing accessible to others are beginning to see pedagogical applications with students. Nick Hutchings of Mount St.Mary’s University describes some of the 3D printing activities he is seeing at his institution

…“lifecasting” project in which they are designing and fabricating artistic models of human body parts. Chemistry students have used the machines to print models of molecules. And one student from a biology class is using the printers to build special molds that will eventually hold collagen to support growing cells.

As prices continue to fall and quality improves, it isn’t hard to imagine that we’re close to a time when 3D printers will be as common at our institutions as regular printers.

First published in the EdTech Factotum newsletter.

Photo: 3d printed hand Tom Woodward CC-BY-SA

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