At the moment, 3D printing is mostly used in the field of manufacturing. However, as the technology matures, its potential will expand to various fields. Doctors, for example, will be able to print out body parts that will enable patients to replace damaged organs without the need for an organ transplant. Astronauts, meanwhile, can print out tools as they need them, and even food, which can be vital for long journeys in space.
For all these futuristic applications of 3D printing, this technology can also revolutionise education. Here are some ways schools will benefit from it:
1. Provide alternative teaching methods. Not everyone can grasp abstract ideas or concepts, such as those being taught in math. Others are more visual, and thus it will be useful to give them something more tangible to work with. The technology of 3D printing can do this. Visual representations of graphs, for example, can help students better appreciate the concept being taught to them and give them a richer learning experience.
2. Have more learning tools. There are museums and other institutions that have made available 3D scans of their artifacts, which schools could then print out. This can be an amazing experience for students because they can finally be up close and personal with artifacts such as dinosaur bones or fragments of ancient pottery–things that they would usually read only in books or would have to travel to museums to see. Those learning about geography, meanwhile, will be able to see maps in 3D instead of flat representations on paper or on the screen.
3. Prepare them for the future. Three-dimensional printing is here to stay. And although it has been around for several decades, the technology is still in its infancy. Thus, it is ideal for schools to expose students to this technology early on, so that at the very least they will have an idea of what it is about, or even better, they will be inspired enough by it to aspire to develop more uses for it in the future.
More than just being an exciting technology, 3D printing can change the way students of today and of the future will learn their lessons in class. This can make learning more exciting and richer as abstract concepts are finally made tangible. It can also show them the way to the future by enabling them to explore other applications for this type of technology.