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?

  • - larry.miller larry.miller Oct 24, 2014 There is tremendous opportunity for meaningful applications of 3D Printing for biosciences and medicine. See an article from 3D Printing Website on this - http://3dprintingindustry.com/2014/01/31/bioprinting-booming-rainbow-biosciences-wants-piece/
  • Art, design and fashion have yet to embrace 3D printing at our institution, but with the falling cost of the technology it is only a matter of time before they change the way we do things, and we have a demo coming up in a couple of weeks.
  • add your response here

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

  • It has been pointed out in previous reports, so to me the info seems to be inherently there. Still, it seems worth mentioning explicitly: as printers are getting more affordable and more readily available, 3D Printing provides a viable means to create a prototype of otherwise not (readily) available objects of study and research - be it a rare and unattainable piece of archeology or art or what have you. Thus, it enables students and researchers to touch and examine a close approximation of their research object - an experience they would otherwise never be able to make. - helga helga Oct 20, 2014 - larry.miller larry.miller Oct 24, 2014 There is a report on spending on 3D printing by Onvia, a company that tracks, analyzes and reports the spending of federal, state and local government agencies, including public education. Some higher education institutions are committing significat dollars for 2D printing systems. See "3D Printing for the Next Generation http://www.onvia.com/blog/3D-printing-in-schools-and-libraries
  • I shared this in Makerspaces, but. . . At present, 3D printing is just too painfully slow to offer a real campus solution that encourages iteration unless we purchase dozens. Talked to a guy at Etsy who drew connection between maker education (in the Etsy Labs live workshops) and an abundance of materials. They try to have more than enough supplies for projects for participants to encourage make-and-fail attitude rather than feel like you only have one shot to get it right. Speed/scarcity of 3D printers in effect create this limitation at present. Huge potential when speed increases.- dicksonk dicksonk Oct 22, 2014

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

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

  • - larry.miller larry.miller Oct 24, 2014 The National Institute of Health has developed an open source 3D Print Exchange as a comprehensive and interactive website for searching, browsing, downloading, and sharing biomedical 3D print files, modeling tutorials, and educational material. A very rich resource. http://3dprint.nih.gov/discover
  • something that goes hand-in-hand with 3D printing is 3D scanning, Here is an example at UMBC: http://my.umbc.edu/news/47569 - billshewbridge billshewbridge Oct 27, 2014

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