Schools use 3D printers to foster creativity, build enthusiasm and teach real-world skills.
When Ron Smith first saw a 3D printer in action, he knew the device belonged in his Engineering and Metal Fabrication program at Nestucca Junior/Senior High School in Cloverdale, Ore. The technology could guide students all the way through the manufacturing process — from concept to completion — and reward them with an object they could hold in their hands.
But it wasn’t until Smith had an Afinia 3D printer in his classroom that he realized its value as an educational tool. Computer-assisted design (CAD) software by itself is great, he says. But being able to bring those designs to life with a 3D printer adds a whole new dimension to the student experience.
“Motivating students is one of the biggest jobs in teaching,” Smith says. “It’s important that they learn to do technical drawings and to use the Inventor software, but when you make it come to life with the 3D printer and they can touch it and feel it, they want to do more and learn more.”