If there is one thing I’ve always wanted to do, it’s look up pictures of Walruses, stuff those pictures into a 3D printer, and create my own private army of Walruses trained/renditioned from all over the world. Or maybe create a fax machine, everyone loves fax machines. They’re all the rage! You know who else would like to print out 3D roombas and fax machines? Students. And that’s exactly what we’re talking about today. Should more schools adopt the use of 3D printers for educational purposes?
Well that question is easier to ask than it is to answer, 3D printers allow for student’s ideas to translate into real life; letting them hold their creations and feel the sort of emotional attachment humans perceive with things they can touch. Think about it. How much more would you love that potato-identification chart if you could 3D print the potato out and identify it by hand? Not only that, but 3D printers allow students to study the geography of objects, looking at contours and understanding the basic principals of graphic design. These are subjects that simply cannot be replicated on a sheet of paper, no matter how many pieces of clip art or pirated material you use.
But this is not to say that 3D printers are gods among… well… printers. Quite the contrary, they are still in their early test fazes, the full potential of these machines has yet to be realized and as such, the limited range of resources and not-so-accurate printing qualities can put-off many schools who don’t want to fork out 22 billion thousand million dollars just so students can make a brick of plastic.
So are 3D printers fit for school consumption, well in the end I guess it’s a question of time and desire. There is no denying that technology like this is the thing of the future. Pretty soon every toy chest will just have a 3D printer inside, able to verbally understand user commands and make whatever action figure, barbie doll, or roomba we see fit. Transferring something like that over to a fridge and replacing the plastic with siracha sauce and bacon bits will be even better. The truth is that we have not gotten that far yet. If you are willing to overlook the 3D printer for it’s faults, then sure, go buy one, I won’t stop you, I’m sorta busy right now. But if you find issues with the system and think that it needs time to age to perfection, just wait a few years and see what the future holds. Schools need to take both of these basic things into question when making this decision, because a 3D printer can’t make it for them… yet.