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3D Printing: Managing secure access

Using 3D printing in the classroom can be highly beneficial, not just for STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) but also for art, music, design and history. To get the most out of 3D printing, 3D printers need to be accessible, yet access needs to be managed by the school Today most schools lock 3D printers in a room, limited the accessibility.
When used to support traditional teaching methods, 3D printing encourages involvement by turning a design into a reality, it often brings subjects to life for easier understanding. Allowing students to take the conception of an idea and produce a physical object with relative ease supports learning through trial and error. By employing problem-solving and teamworking skills, students develop vital expertise that will help them in their future careers. 

Struggle to stay secure

A study commissioned by Y Soft investigated the adoption of 3D printing within the education sector and found a staggering 87% of educators are restricting student access to 3D printers because they have no way to manage access.

Some of the key security concerns are:
  • Uncontrolled access to the device, allowing expensive rogue printing as well as interrupted or cancelled projects by other students
  • Unprotected access to the printer could result in projects incorrectly being taken
  • Unmonitored printing creating a lack of management, visibility and control as to who is printing what and when

Students need security too

As the process of 3D printing takes some time, printed models may need to be left overnight to finish printing, which means that printers and 3D models are unsecure and unmonitored.

In short, students need to access 3D printers and their projects need to be secured during and after printing is completed. Security of the model provides the best learning experience for student and educators avoiding disappointment, angry students, or stolen 3D models. But many schools have valid access and cost management concerns and therefore store 3D printers behind lock doors.

So, what is the answer?

Secure 3D printing with Y Soft

In designing the YSoft be3D eDee 3D printer, Y Soft worked closely with educators and ensured security needs of both the school and students were addressed.

Schools can manage access to the device by providing login credentials to students who need 3D printing for their class projects. The YSoft be3D eDee 3D printer is only unlocked when a user logs in, using either a PIN code, username/password or ID card. The printer’s doors lock once the student starts the print job and only the student or administrator can pause, stop, cancel or open the printer door using their credentials. This authorization process prevents someone from taking a 3D object that does not belong to them. The owner of the job will receive a notification once their 3D job has completed, and a webcam can even provide remote monitoring of the job itself. 
Secure access is one example of how an off-the-shelf 3D printer is not a solution for Education and why we continue to work with educators to design a solution that brings 3D benefits to students and meets the needs of the school.
To find out more about 3D printing in education, read the eBook ‘An educator’s guide to introducing 3D printing in the classroom’.

Do you have a 3D printer in your classroom? We would love to hear from you, use the comments section below to share your thoughts and any questions you might have.

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