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3D Printing for Fun and Education (And Profit?) - Part 1 - Why?

Yep... no photo credit this time. That's my picture of five of my 3D printers in my lab. I say five of my printers, because since that picture was taken, I've acquired a sixth printer.

There are so many things to cover in 3D printing for the classroom, this will have to be a multi-part post. That being said, if you have particular questions, thoughts, or just want to drop a comment that says "I heard 3D printing causes chicken pox," or any other random thing you heard, leave it as a comment. I'll respond, and it may even be a focus for another post on the blog. That being said, let's start with the why.

I've been told many times to start with why, so that's what I'm doing today. Do you want a 3D printer for your house or your classroom? Why? Why spend the money? Why jump on the that steep learning curve?

Well, I can tell you my why. I wanted my students to have an experience while learning problem solving skills. I wanted to push my students in terms of spatial reasoning, engineering design, and other concepts that we cover as we design useful things to print and test. I wanted them to be able to hold something they designed on the computer. I wanted them to have the opportunity to go from concept, to design on paper, to design on the computer, to a finished product they could hold and take home to show their parents.

I think there is also merit to discussing the NOT why. I did not invest in 3D printers to print dust collecting trinkets from Thingiverse. I did not invest in 3D printers to replace student projects where they build things (we still use glue, popsicle sticks, etc. for TONS of stuff.) I did not purchase the printers to try to make everything we do rely on the printers.

Yes, I do use the printers for a small fundraiser. I'll cover this later in the what category, but I'm not kidding when I mention 3D printing for profit. In the meantime, it's time for lunch. My beautiful bride has shrimp quesadillas on the way.

Take the time to make the world a better place.


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