The technology of 3D printing is slowly but surely finding its place in the education system of each type of school. Our grammar school also started to experiment with the use of 3D printing in education. A big step forward was the start of our cooperation with the YSoft company.
One part of polytechnical education is the use of 3D printing technology. There are many opportunities to use 3D printing in the school environment. To name just one, there is strong motivation amongst students in the field of technical education (designing, modeling, data preparation, modification of printouts…) and linking informatics to other subjects, even to those like music and art education (sculpture, architecture, musical instruments…). The exceptional added value of 3D printing is the low-cost creation of teaching aids. It is easy to design teaching aids to suit your needs exactly, and due to the low cost of 3D printing, you can also print in large quantities. So, during the lecture, there is not only one person demonstrating with the teaching aid, but everyone in the class has one for themself. With this, for example, discovering natural patterns can become more interesting for students. The teaching aids they now use are not commercially available at all. Without the ability to print 3D teaching aids directly, they would never get them.
Thanks to the cooperation with YSoft, we got two Be3D eDee printers free for two years. These printers are designed specifically for the school environment; they have a couple of unique features that are interesting to schools and also they helped to bring 3D printing to “school life”. The essence is connecting 3D printers to a network and cooperation with the server platform SafeQ. Users, students, and teachers enter their username and password to log in to the printer, or they can use a special “lunch” chip. For example, the possibility to reprint a favorite model is a great feature for teachers. Automatic e-mail notification to the user about the completed printing job is in place. The user-friendly SafeQ printer control screen is also very important. Thanks to this, the school can keep track of individual print jobs, user activities and material usage. The school has a complete overview of the costs related to running 3D printers.
Technologies are moving forward at the speed of light. If we want to prepare our students for the world they will live in, we cannot ignore modern technologies. To the contrary, we must show students a way to use the new technologies meaningfully. It is important to encourage students to understand the basic principles of modern technologies and the consequential limitations. And that is where polytechnic education, including the above-mentioned 3D printing, has its indispensable place. It is very likely that as it is common for teachers to work with computers, it will become necessary for them to have appropriate knowledge and skills with 3D printing in a short time.