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Part 12: 3D printing - Our top 3 tips for Education

In this blog series, many topics were introduced as considerations for bringing 3D printing into the classroom. All the topics are important and each school has their own priorities. However, as this 12-part series draws to a close, here we summarize and combine the topics as top tips and provide links to where you can read more.
Tip #1 – Find the right solution for your school, including print management
The key word here is ‘solution’. While 3D printers are great devices by themselves, in a school environment, they are a shared resource. And, like it or not, this means it may be subject to abuse. Schools need to control who has access, the 3D models printed need to be secure from theft and, in many schools, schools need a way to recoup the costs by having students pay-to-print.

This means the 3D printer has to be part of an overall solution. Luckily, such a solution exists for 2D (paper printers and is likely already in use at your school) – it is called print management. It ensures that students can have direct, authorized access when they need it. The solution must also provide the school administrator easy tools to manage and perform maintenance monitoring. Be sure to consider the overall needs of the school and not just the cost of an individual 3D printer.

Learn more by reading these blog articles about 3D print management.
Part 2: How do you know if you need a 3D printer for your classroom?
Part 4: Building a business case for a 3D printer
Part 6: Finding your perfect 3D solution

Tip #2 – Talk with other schools, learn what works and what doesn’t
As a shared resource, 3D printing in education has unique requirements. Does it make sense to have 3D printers in the classroom or a dedicated lab room? Which classroom subjects can benefit the most from 3D printing? While science, technology, engineering and math subjects may come to mind, schools can expand their investment by incorporating 3D technology in many different subjects.

We studied 3D printing in a technical high school for over a year to learn how students use the printers and how school administrators need to manage their use. You can read more about these experiences or talk to schools in your area who have 3D printers to learn from them.

Consider the entire 3D printing ecosystem from the CAD files to expanding your 3D print fleet. For example, will your students be primarily using existing CAD files of models created by others or will they be creating their own designs? If the latter, you may need to consider CAD software as part of your 3D print capabilities. Or, if using existing CAD files, there are resources listed in our blog articles.

These blog articles will provide more detail on this subject.
Part 5: Creating the right physical environment for 3D printing in Education
Part 7: Successfully introducing 3D printing into your school
Part 8: Designing for 3D printing
Part 9: Building a curriculum around 3D printing
Part 11: Expanding your 3D print environment

Tip #3 – Consider the total cost of 3D printing & how to recoup costs
Just as the purchase of a car goes beyond the price of the car itself (maintenance and repairs, petrol, insurance), 3D printers also have ongoing costs to consider. With 3D printers, in addition to the cost of the printer itself, there are these costs:
  • Materials – called filaments, this is the actual 3D print material used to create the model.
  • Maintenance and repairs – Proper maintenance will ensure that the printer parts are in good working order. Who will perform this maintenance? Similarly, parts will need replacing, and after all this is used by students, there might occasional damage.
  • Facility costs – whether it is electricity usage or physical space allocations, 3D printers need to be accounted for in facility management.
Having 3D printers as a managed service will help on managing material usage and maintenance and repair. 2D printer manufacturers and their services and sales channel are well suited for providing excellent service and support. They are also very well educated on print management solutions and can assist in this area too.

Also consider the possibility of providing 3D printing as a pay-to-print service at the onset or later on as the use expands. Be sure to choose a 3D print solution that offers this option.

These blog articles provide more detail on costs and how to recoup them
Part 3: How much does 3D printing cost?
Part 10: Maintaining and supporting 3D printing

Information about YSoft be3D eDee’s print-to-pay option can be found in our YSoft SAFEQ print management solution, as a module called Credit and Billing.
If you are still wondering about the benefits 3D printing offers students, start with our first article:
Part 1: What is 3D printing and what are the benefits for education?

This concludes our 12-part series. Thanks for reading!

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