How Formlabs 3D Printers Support Education …

Additive manufacturing has firmly established itself across most manufacturing industries. The significance of 3D printers will only keep growing. It’s important to teach future professionals early on how 3D printers work. But not every 3D printer suits classrooms and universities. …

Ile Kauppila

July 12, 2022

Additive manufacturing has firmly established itself across most manufacturing industries. The significance of 3D printers will only keep growing. It’s important to teach future professionals early on how 3D printers work.

But not every 3D printer suits classrooms and universities. You need the right combination of ease of use, available materials, and affordable machines. Formlabs 3D printers can help you start using 3D printers in education.

Read on to learn how schools combine education and 3D printing and what makes Formlabs printers ideal for helping pupils and students learn 3D printing.

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3D Printing and Education

3D printing has much to offer both students and educators at all education levels. Both schools and governments have begun to realize this and are bringing 3D printers into schools. For example, the UK is looking to boost 3D printing education through the Additive Manufacturing National Strategy.

For younger pupils and students, 3D printers are a wonderful way to demystify manufacturing processes. They help teachers demonstrate how products go from design sketches to physical objects. They can also boost enthusiasm in the classroom. For example, physics teachers could print physical tools to demonstrate complex concepts.

At higher levels of education, such as in colleges and universities, operating 3D printers can assist students in building expertise in modern manufacturing processes. Engineering and medical students will no doubt use 3D printers in their careers, and giving them a head start on the technology is a great way to ensure their future expertise.

Benefits of 3D Printing in Education

Using 3D printers in education can introduce many tangible benefits to classrooms and lecture halls. These include:

  • Developing student creativity
  • Improving problem-solving skills
  • Offering practical examples of theoretical subjects
  • Boosting student participation
  • Preparing students for future jobs

For a more in-depth look at 3D printing’s benefits in the classroom, read our blog on How to Use 3D Printing in Education.

How to Bring 3D Printers into Schools and Universities

The ways you can use 3D printing in education will depend on the age of the pupils or students. After all, the same teaching methods and assignments won’t work for a 10-year-old child and a 20-year-old engineering student. Let’s look at some successful ways teachers and professors have helped their students learn 3D printing.

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Classrooms

With younger students, particularly in primary education, there is more emphasis on teachers operating 3D printers. Young children may not be able to use the machines correctly and some 3D printing materials — like SLA resins — are toxic, so adult supervision is necessary. But teachers can nonetheless teach the basic working principles of 3D printers to students.

3D printing can also support general education at primary and secondary levels in many ways. 3D printers can help create models of ancient artefacts and buildings for history classes or allow students to design custom decorations in art classes. They’re also great tools for helping students understand how manufacturing and modern digital technologies work.

Advanced Education

In universities and colleges, 3D printers help students get hands-on experience in their chosen fields. Professors and educators have put Formlabs 3D printers to use in various fields with successful results.

Engineering students can benefit from learning additive manufacturing workflows using the tools and machines they’re likely to encounter in professional settings. At the same time, they can build their knowledge of how to design parts and products for additive manufacturing and the factors that affect part performance.

3D printers are also increasingly common in life sciences and medicine, like in dental care. Students will benefit from studying accurate anatomical models and learning how to create tools and appliances using medically-safe materials.

Needless to say, students of arts and design can build their practical skills and creativity with 3D printers. For example, students studying jewellery or prop design can print casting-ready patterns with Formlabs wax resin materials.

Makerspaces and Fab Labs

Makerspaces and fab labs are increasingly popular at schools, particularly on university campuses. These spaces are small workshops with shared tools that let students realize design and manufacturing projects for classes — or out of their own interest.

The success of makerspaces and fab labs depends in large part on the available tools. They should have equipment that mirrors that used in professional manufacturing to help students build their skills for future jobs. As such, schools need to give these spaces sufficient funding and make them easily accessible to encourage students to use them.

But a well-built-and designed fab lab is a valuable tool for students to gain additive manufacturing experience and prepare them for their dream careers. Many schools around the world, like Ivy Tech, have demonstrated the benefits of makerspaces.

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Characteristics of Good Educational 3D Printers

Choosing the right 3D printer for education can be a daunting task. The market is flush with different printer brands and technologies. Unless educators themselves are knowledgeable about 3D printers, they may end up purchasing printers that aren’t a good fit for education.

When looking for 3D printers for your schools or university, pay attention to these five factors:

  1. Ease of Use: Educational 3D printers shouldn’t be too complex to use — especially with young students. The best 3D printers for schools should have simple and safe workflows and support multi-user environments.
  2. Resources and Documentation: Educators will need support, particularly when first setting up 3D printers. Choose 3D printers from a manufacturer that offers free education-specific online resources.
  3. Budget: Many schools operate on unfortunately tight budgets. The ideal 3D printer for education should be affordable and low-maintenance. You should also make sure the printer supports a large material library so it can be used for multiple purposes.
  4. Footprint: Space in classrooms is often also at a premium. Pick a 3D printer that offers powerful productivity with a small footprint to ensure you can fit the machine in your classroom.
  5. Professional Quality: Many printer brands are aimed primarily at consumers. It may be a good idea to choose a brand that also sees professional use so that your students can build their skills with a machine that they may see later in their careers.

Formlabs 3D Printers — Perfect for Education

3D printers by Formlabs are great options for schools and universities. These machines are widely used in both education and industry. As such, you can easily make a demonstrable use case for them.

Formlabs printers are affordably priced but offer professional-level detail quality, print speed, and usability. They have compact footprints and support more than 30 materials, which makes them easy to incorporate into classrooms. Formlabs also offers extensive documentation and resources to help educators bring 3D printers into schools and universities.

The company offers a wide range of printers that suit all educational purposes. The Formlabs printer range includes:

Formlabs Form 3+

Formlabs Form 3+ is one of the most popular SLA 3D printers on the market. It has a large material library and can create intricate, high-quality parts. This professional 3D printer is commonly found in industry and can support students in developing valuable skills.

Form 3+ has a small footprint and a simple user interface that make it highly suitable for classrooms. It offers a scalable solution that allows schools to start small and ramp up their 3D printing capabilities as necessary.

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Formlabs Form 3B+

Formlabs Form 3B+ is one of the leading SLA printers in the medical field. Students of dentistry, medicine, and other life sciences can learn how to operate a machine they’re likely to encounter in real-world professional settings.

Form 3B+ is comparable in performance to Form 3+ with one significant difference — it supports medical-grade, biocompatible materials. You can print dental and anatomical models, appliances, and prosthetics with resins that are actually used in medical applications.

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Formlabs Form 3L/3BL

Formlabs Form 3L and Form 3BL have the same detail quality as their siblings. But thanks to their larger size, they boost productivity and build volume.

These printers are excellent choices for makerspaces and fab labs, where higher capacities are important. Students can easily create large parts, bigger batches of prototypes, and share the print chamber if they’re creating parts with the same materials.

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Formlabs Fuse 1

Formlabs Fuse 1 is an industrial-level powder-based SLS printer. It can create highly detailed, end-use ready parts out of durable Nylon materials.

Fuse 1 is a fantastic choice for teaching advanced engineering students how to use the latest, cutting-edge additive manufacturing technologies to create parts that are ready for real-world use. This compact machine is a great addition to university workshops, and its ability to recycle powder makes it an affordable solution.

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If you want to learn more about how to bring 3D printers into your school, Solid Print3D is happy to help you! Call us at 01926 333 777 or email us at info@solidprint3d.co.uk.

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