Introducing 3D printing to the classroom: 5 steps for teachers

3D Printing is continuing to make its way in to schools, colleges and universities in every corner of the globe. It’s not rocket science, however there a number of things to consider before starting. At PrintLab, our primary goal is to support and educate teachers and make the introduction of 3D printing in to the classroom a simple process. The possibilities for young people are greater than ever and we believe that 3D printing will play a key part in the careers of the next generation. From engineering and architecture to fashion and art, 3D printing promotes problem solving, creative thinking and 3D design. We hope these 5 steps serve as a useful introduction.

8th December 2016 Tips

1. Make a plan of action

The first step is to really consider your objectives. This will enable you to plan your 3D printing Lab accordingly. It is a good idea to ask yourself a number of questions. What learning outcomes are you trying to convey to your students? 3D design, physics and engineering principles are all fantastic examples and there are many more you may wish to consider. How many students will require the use of a 3D printer? What curriculum needs do you have? There are many things to consider but if you require any guidance, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.


2. Understand the basics

There are a number of avenues to go down if you want to learn the basics of 3D printing. YouTube and Google are a great place to start. Alternatively, we have a comprehensive guide to 3D printing for teachers available for free here.


3. Check out the ecosystem

Now that you have a good grasp of what is involved in 3D printing, explore the options of the ecosystem. From 3D printers and 3D scanners to curriculum, installation and training, there’s a whole range of products, services and resources that can help you in your journey.


4. Get your first 3D printer

If you decide to get a 3D printer then your mission is starting to take course. Once it arrives, get comfortable with it and take your time. It is important to feel at home with this new classroom tool so that you can manage it and teach your students effectively. Don’t be put off if things are not perfect right away. New technology can often be intimidating but these machines are generally quite pliable, get hands-on and learn through making mistakes. Consider starting out by printing pre-made 3D models to get familiar with the machine and its capabilities. There are literally thousands available to download for free and we also have some great classroom objects available as part of our free resources. After that, why not try a simple free CAD software such as Tinkercad and create your very own unique 3D model.


5. Inspire a generation

You are now in a position to teach your first lesson. Have fun with it and encourage students to do the same. We have a number of incredible lesson plans available that are being used all around the world as we speak – check out the free trial here.

3D printing is an extremely powerful tool to convey theory from a multitude of core subjects, inspire creativity and even spark a debate amongst students on best 3D printing practices. If you see yourself as more of a trailblazer then why not design your own lesson? Come up with a basic learning outcome and work backwards to a model that can help convey this. Even better, give the students free reign to design their own 3D model. Again Tinkercad is a good place to start and for the more advanced we recommend Autodesk Fusion 360.


Thanks for reading and we wish you all the best in your goal of introducing 3D printing to the classroom. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions –