The future of 3D printing in education

“In the 1950s, the slide rule was the most commonly used classroom tool for mathematical and engineering calculation, but by the mid-1970s, newer technology – the electronic scientific calculator – made the slide rule almost obsolete. Since then, there has been an explosion of new technologies hitting the classroom for engineering and mathematical learning including the computer, the iPad and more recently 3D printers. Here, Simon Biggs, education liaison officer for Wales at global engineering and scientific technology company Renishaw discusses the current use of 3D printers as an educational tool.

3D printing is a well-established industrial technology for prototyping and manufacturing, particularly popular with the aerospace and defence sectors. Also known as additive manufacturing (AM), 3D printing is the process of making a solid 3D object from a digital computer aided design (CAD) file. The printer adds successive layers of material together until the final object has been created. This is different from traditional manufacturing methods like CNC machining, which removes material from a solid block using rotating tools or cutters.”

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