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Teachers, 3D printing and STEAM: Art

One of the core STEAM subjects, art teaches students how to try new things, observe the work of others and to self-critique. 3D printing can inspire and motivate both students and teachers in their art lessons as they develop their skill sets. In this, the fifth article in the series, we look at the tools and resources in be3D Academy that support using 3D printing to teach art.


Artists are renowned for their creativity and art education encourages students to develop their motor skills, language skills, social skills, decision-making, and risk-taking. By using their imagination art students can express themselves creatively.

Introducing 3D printing into art lessons is a natural progression as it helps artists transform ideas into tangible works of art. Students can truly unleash their imagination to create new and exciting objects. From creating abstract sculptures, to mechanical artwork, casting molds and embossing, 3D printing can broaden perspectives and be used in a wide number of ways within the discipline of art. Works of art can be reproduced in 3D, with the likes of Van Gogh being brought to life in a new tangible and achievable way.
The use of 3D printing in the art world is rapidly increasing. There have been many high-profile examples of how 3D printing has been used in the fashion industry, with jewelry, dresses and shoes being designed and created. Designers are creating such intricate designs which could not be achieved otherwise. We are also seeing 3D printing being used to restore works of art, design theatre props, and create innovative musical instruments.
Teaching students about artistic culture allows customization, creativity, replication and immeasurable possibilities. With a 3D printer, an artist has the means to create anything they can imagine.

be3D Academy

There are many benefits of using 3D printing to teach art, but it takes time to find a way to work it into lesson plans and the curriculum. Teachers are extremely busy, so we wanted to make it as easy as possible to put 3D into your art class.  As an online library of teacher-tested 3D lessons, be3D Academy provides the tools and resources to help. Featuring detailed projects, 3D models, lesson plans, and curriculum guidelines, be3D Academy is a free and user-friendly resource.
Each lesson features a project and a variety of tools, such as 3D model files, videos, student worksheets, a lesson plan and presentations, to complete the project. Each project indicates the time it takes to complete the lesson along with the estimated 3D printing time. Filtering by age group and subject and you will be provided with a list of relevant lessons and plans, making teaching in 3D easy and effective. We even give you suggestions on how to introduce the 3D project to your students.

Art lessons

Looking specifically at art lessons, below are a selection of the resources specific from be3D Academy:
  • Castles: students produce creative work, exploring their ideas and recording their experiences. They will experiment with different types of towers and turrets as well as working on ways to improve the design and aesthetics of the demonstration models.
  • Cell phone stand: this lesson encourages students to experiment with demonstration models and make design decisions on how to improve the design and aesthetics of their models. Students will develop and communicate design ideas using annotated sketches, detailed plans, oral and digital presentations and computer-based tools.
  • Digital sculpture: this lesson introduces students to the creation of 3D art using CAD modelling and digital sculpting tools. Students are challenged to use TinkerCAD or Fusion360 to create a basic 3D sculpture. This lesson uses a range of techniques and media, including painting. The process increases proficiency in the handling of different materials and students also learn about the history of art, craft, design and architecture.
  • Pictures in plastic: this project introduces students to lithophanes using 3D printing to bring a 2D photo to life. Students practice their photography skills to capture an image and then convert their image into a lithophane before printing. They are encouraged to analyze and evaluate their work in order to strengthen the visual impact. Students will use a range of techniques to record observations in sketchbooks, journals and other media.
  • Vessels: in this lesson students design and 3D print their own unique vessel models. As a product manager for a line of perfume, they will design a bottle that has to meet certain volume criteria. They produce creative work as they work through the design process.

3D Print models

While giving students the tools and support they need to design and 3D print their own projects, 3D models can also add depth to your art lessons. The use of 3D models can take the intangible and make it tangible. Explaining techniques or specific models, students can see first-hand what is meant. Handling a 3D model of DaVinci’s bridge or a vessel can bring the subject to life and spark the imagination of your students. They can appreciate art through their fingertips.

Our be3D Academy model database is free to use, and we have a wide number of models and guidance available for you to print and use as part of your own art lessons.

Generation creativity

With such exciting technology available today, we recognize that teachers are teaching the future. This generation of creativity can be encouraged and inspired like never before. be3D Academy has been intentionally created to help teachers pass on their passion to the artists of the future. Get ready to inspire your students and transform your art classes by unlocking the world of 3D printing.
Our training videos, lessons plans, models and curriculum guidance, are free and available in the YSoft be3D Academy, giving you everything you need to use 3D printing to teach art. We are committed to education and passionate about giving you the tools you. Teaching the future starts now.

Register now for access to the materials to inspire and prepare your students for the challenges of tomorrow.

If you have an idea for a project you'd like to see as a 3D lesson, let us know in the comment section below. 
You may also want to read the other article in this series A Guide to lesson planning for 3D Printing:

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