3D Printers in the Maker Movement

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As I said in my last blog post, it’s not necessary for technology to be used in makerspaces. However, technology can be quite beneficial. So, in this blog post, I want to explore how 3D printers can help create an incredibly useful makerspace.

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3D printers are very new and; therefore, very expensive. It is fairly unlikely that makerspaces in k12 classrooms or public schools will include a 3D printer. But, these types of printers are becoming increasingly abundant in public library makerspaces. Since I really don’t know how 3D printers work, I decided to explore that first. In order to use a 3D printer, you must have a 3D design file on your computer which can be done in many different ways. Once your design is complete, it is sent to the the 3D printer, similarly to a regular printer. In a 3D printer, however, your design is created layer by layer. The printer has melted plastic that is layer down. The most common type of printer uses plastic but there are some that use rubber and metal too. Using a 3D printer can be very time consuming because the printer has to create the object by laying down extremely thin layers of material. I think 3D printers are a cool tool to have because it allows students to create in a way that many people didn’t see possible. For example, you could want to your students to create their own product and learn about marketing and advertising. Well, with a 3D printer, students could actually design and print the product that they imagine, rather than just simply drawing and explaining their product. Here a short video from a public library makerspace that gives you a closer look at 3D printing. As I continued to research, I discovered that many companies are working on making 3D printers cheaper and more easily accessible to everyone. In the future, 3D printers could be regular household objects.

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