3-D Printing Will Change the World. How will it change D&T?

Published 26th November 2014

Written by: Andy Mitchell

Updated Wednesday 26/11/2014

This 3D-printed art looks amazing

NASA creates history by successfully 3D printing first object in space

Updated Wednesday 31/10/2014

HP joins the world of 3D printing.

Updated Wednesday 21/05/2014

3D-printed braille phone to help blind people stay in touch.

Updated Thursday 15/05/2014

Scientists use 3D-printing to show the power of a shark skin.

Updated Monday 31/03/2014

3D printing goes from strength to strength with the worlds first skull transplant.

I came across this article today which made me think about 3D printing and D&T. This is a real concrete example of how 3D printing is massively changing the lives of individual people and at very low cost.  Replacing a limb with a prosthetic version manufactured over a couple of days for a 14 year old who was injured sheltering from a bomb blast in war torn Sudan – it doesn’t get much more graphic than that!  Certainly a great story to share with young people in D&T lessons. Think:

‘ ...understand developments in design and technology, its impact on individuals, society and the environment and the responsibilities of designers, engineers and technologists’  The English National Curriculum D&T Programmes of Study.

We’re going to be talking a lot about 3D printers this year, how they can be used in schools and what resources need developing to support their use, so watch this space.  In the mean time, we are really interested to hear about (particularly from those lucky enough to own a 3D printer) how the technology is being used.  

When I visited a 3D printing show recently, I was bowled over by what they could do, how low cost they were and the potential they must have for transforming aspects of D&T in school.  However, (and this was not a show about D&T) there were far too many models, key fobs, busts of Beethoven and Napoleon, puzzles etc with little reference to designing. And it reminded me of the time when laser cutters first hit schools. Inevitably, what happened then was we started by replicating what we did before, admittedly in some cases with a higher degree of accuracy, just using new technology!   Doing the same just in a different, more ‘up to date’ way does not justify the investment. It seems to me,  that what we need to concentrate on is what new things does it enable, what can we do now that we couldn’t do before?  Always a good question to ask following the acquisition of equipment or resource.

Let us know what you are doing you lucky ones.  And if you have not got access to a 3D printer, what would you want to use one for in D&T activity?

Also, click to see how 3D printing will change the world!

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