In 2016, Dimensional Research carried out an international survey of over 300 educational institutions regarding the adoption of 3D printing.
Of those surveyed, 99% have at least one printer however direct student access and further expansion continues to be restricted due to three key challenges:
Security & Access: Ensuring safe and secure access to 3D printers.
Cost Management: Managing ongoing costs and justifying the Return on Investment (ROI).
Incorporating into Curriculum: Incorporating 3D printing projects into classroom curriculum.
With a physical 3D printed wind turbine, the student can study the construction, test its ability to generate wind energy and adjust accordingly. By being involved at every step from design through to construction, the physics and math elements come alive. Using a 3D printer enhances the learning experience, helping students to absorb and retain the lesson.
When it comes to 3D printing in education, STEM subjects are particularly useful. Complex concepts and testing of theories are a natural fit for exploration using 3D printing. Science, technology, engineering and math subjects enhanced through 3D printing in their classroom, prepare young students for interesting and relevant careers. However, 3D printing is not just for STEM subjects. Educators find 3D printing useful for other subjects as well.
The use of 3D printing in education can be much broader than STEM subjects. Today, primary schools are introducing 3D printing as a learning tool in the classroom. 3D printing also plays a very important role in technical or design oriented schools and are very often used in university-level education, including medicine, engineering, design, architecture, art and construction.
With 3D print management, it’s easy to track and monitor a school’s entire fleet of paper and 3D printers. Similar to paper (2D) printers, 3D printers can be securely placed on the network and accessible to all students who need direct access for their different classes or for their own individual study projects.
Y Soft’s 3D print management also includes an accounting system and a comprehensive set of customizable reports. The accounting and reporting features allow schools to track, allocate and, if using a pay-to-print system, recover costs associated with 3D printer use and materials. And, since the 3D print management system can be used to track and monitor 2D printers, the investment is further enhanced.
Unique challenges require innovative solutions. It is why we developed YSoft be3D eDee. Educators and their IT colleagues should consider these challenges when developing a 3D printing program for the classroom.
With most 3D printers, there is no way to prevent anyone from pausing or cancelling a 3D print job. Further, there is no way to prevent someone from taking a 3D object that does not belong to them.
Another reason educators often lock 3D printers away from students is that the costs of 3D printing are difficult to manage. The YSoft be3D eDee print management solution solves this concern in several ways.
With the reporting system and project codes assigned to students, the school has accurate information on how many print jobs are printed and to which departments these costs should be allocated.
As educators struggle to manage costs they also struggle to justify the return on investment (ROI) on having a 3D printer, which can inhibit the expansion of 3D printers throughout the school or campus.
With YSoft be3D eDee’s reporting and accounting features, schools can analyze their 3D print activity. They can assure that costs are accounted for and determine the ROI for a 3D printer or fleet of 3D printers. With this fact-based data, educators and IT can work together to build a recommendation for broadening 3D print use in their school.