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3D printing: A new catalyst for learning

Lately, 3D printing has created a lot of buzz in the educational space; the revolutionary technology is being touted as a new catalyst for learning.

education Updated: Apr 21, 2017 19:40 IST
Visitors look at a 3D printer printing an object during an exhibition in New York.
Visitors look at a 3D printer printing an object during an exhibition in New York.(AFP/File)

Every progressive educational institution and a creative teacher endeavours to optimise collaboration between students and teachers, constantly on the search for better ways to enhance the learning process.

Inevitable technological advancements have inched its way into every aspect of our lives, and education is not behind: From online virtual classrooms, online learning to 3D printing, students are now exposed to new innovative approaches to learning.

Lately, 3D printing has created a lot of buzz in the educational space; the revolutionary technology is being touted as a new catalyst for learning. Undeniably, this technology has infiltrated its way into various schools, institutes and eventually into curriculums, as educational entities realise its importance and how it assists in the fulfilment of a productive educational experience.

Here are a few reasons schools can benefit from 3D printing technology:

Spatial intelligence

Spatial intelligence is the ability to draw precise conclusions by observing a three-dimensional environment. This involves analysing and interpreting the size, shape, movement and relationships between surrounding objects. It is also used when figuring out maps and taking part in any kind of construction or engineering project. According to scientific research, 3D designing enhances a student’s spatial intelligence. It not only triggers one’s imagination but also helps in bringing imaginations to life.

Experiential learning

‘Learning by doing’ or experiential learning is a much endorsed concept today and rightfully so. It encourages learning by doing as opposed to theoretical learning confined in a classroom. It follows the ideology that when learning becomes practical as opposed to theoretical, it enhances the learning capabilities of students, helping them gain a better understanding of core concepts. Similarly, 3D printing has the ability to create tangible activities through which students can learn important academic concepts such as buoyancy through a working motorboat and project motion through designing a 3D printed catapult.

In India, where rote learning is prevalent, experiential learning proves to be a boon. With the help of 3D printing technology, students can design and print subject models such as a skeleton to understand bone formation or an anatomical heart. The impact of this new-age technology is not only profound but also pragmatic. It enhances the visualisation skills and simultaneously adds a fun element to the learning experience. Also, students get a chance to make mistakes, learn and rectify it, which only augments the entire educational process.

Igniting innovation

Amidst today’s ever-evolving and fast-paced culture, concepts such as creativity, which means thinking of new things, and innovation, referring to doing new things, are no longer underrated. New technologies such as 3D printing ignite one’s imagination, and help them to executive and bring their ideas to life. Moreover, with AI and VR taking the world by storm, it is imperative for students to grow beyond academics and stay on top of their game, constantly exploring and thinking out-of-the-box.

Industry applications

3D printing has numerous applications spread to over 120 industries. The manufacturing sector is on the brink of a major transformation; within five years, industries will witness a paradigm shift in their manufacturing process that will save them huge amount of resources and money. Till now, industries have been relying on the traditional methods of production such as subtractive manufacturing which leads to huge wastage of material and money. 3D Printing involves additive manufacturing which basically means adding layers on top of each other, where only a required amount of material is used, assuring no wastage.

Marking its presence in major industries, from construction, academia, to automobile, 3D printing is a technology that is creating waves today. The concept may be relatively new; however, the implications of such a technology are enormous.

(Singhi is the managing director co-founder of 3Dexter. Views expressed here are personal.)