You have not given any consents yet.

Teachers, 3D printing and STEAM: Mathematics

With 3D printing, even the most complex mathematical concepts can be explained and understood. In this, the sixth and final article in this series, we look at the tools and resources available to support using 3D printing to teach math.


Mathematics impacts almost every element of our daily lives, so it is no wonder that it is one of the core STEAM subjects. The subject helps students to develop reasoning and analytical skills as well as logical problem-solving dexterity. However, one difficulty faced in teaching mathematics is presenting abstract mathematical concepts and ideas to students in an engaging way. The use of 3D printing to teach math is a natural fit.
With 3D printing, teachers can easily explain mathematical concepts in a new and exciting way, stimulating the interest of students. By demonstrating numbers, shapes and structures in 3D, ideas are brought to life. Through visualization and observation, 3D printing allows both teacher and students to gain fresh insight and depth to their learning.
3D printing can be used to understand mathematics in a whole new way, visualizing everything from basic geometry to fractals. Concepts can be converted from theoretical models into physical ones. This enables students to visually and tangibly experiment with a variety of mathematical concepts. Such tactile hands-on learning leads to a deeper understanding and an inspired classroom. Helping students to further develop important skills like design thinking, problem solving and critical analysis.
Still, putting 3D printing into practice in the classroom can be tricky. One of the barriers is time and knowledge to plan and use the technology as well as how to incorporate it into the curriculum. With this in mind, Y Soft worked with educators from all over the world to create be3D Academy. This free resource provides materials for teachers using 3D printing for STEAM subjects in their classrooms.

be3D Academy

We know that teachers are busy, and we wanted to make it as easy as possible to put 3D into your math classes so we designed be3D Academy. This resource includes detailed projects, 3D models, lesson plans, as well as curriculum guidelines. be3D Academy is free to use for teachers and students; it’s a very user-friendly resource.
The handy filter allows you to search for the subject and age group you need. The extensive lesson plans include a number of supporting documents, how-to videos, worksheets, 3D model files and presentations. There are also suggestions on how to introduce a 3D project to your students as well as technical guidance and support for the teachers.

Math lessons

Looking specifically at mathematics lessons, below are a selection of the resources specifically for this subject in be3D Academy:
  • Astronaut toolkit: students will work mathematically and solve problems as they design and 3D print their own screwdriver bit or wrench for an astronaut’s toolkit.
  • Da Vinci bridge: in this lesson students assemble a model of Leonardo da Vinci’s bridge. They also design and 3D print their own set of beams and test the completed bridge to discover its load bearing capacity. This lesson will develop their mathematical knowledge, through solving problems and evaluating the outcomes.
  • Gearing up: students learn about ratio, proportion and rates of change as they study different gear ratios and design and 3D print their own gearing system. Using a simulator, students will test the various effects on a gearing system’s rotational speed when changing the number of cogs in a gear. Finally, they design their own 3D gearing system to reduce rotational speed.
  • Mini grabber: in this lesson students will select and use appropriate calculation strategies to design and create a mini grabber. This lesson sees students carry out mathematical functions and measurement.
  • Robots on mars: this project introduces students to one of the challenges faced when building a permanent base on Mars. Students will design a tool or piece of equipment to be mounted on the “Mars Innovation” rover. One element of this lesson is to select appropriate concepts, methods and techniques and apply them to this unfamiliar and non-routine problem.
  • Tidal defenses: this lesson introduces students to tidal defenses and how shorelines and riverbanks are protected from hydraulic erosion. This lesson supports math education by encouraging students to develop fluency, reason mathematically, and problem solve.

An example of the models available in the 'Gearing Up' 3D lesson.

3D Print models

The value in facilitating students to partake in the 3D printing process is apparent, but there is also great value in using 3D models to teach your own math lesson. By taking a concept and presenting it as a tangible object, it easily explains the concept to students. For example, handling various shapes of die quickly enables a student to understand about probabilities. be3D Academy includes a model database which is free to use, and we features a wide number of models and guidance available for you to print and use as part of your math lessons.

Summing up the future

3D printing is not only an exciting tool to add to your teaching arsenal, but it unleashes a world of innovation, creativity, and curiosity in both students and teachers. Bringing the 3D printer into your math class can bring a complex and abstract subject to life with the help of simple shapes. Let be3D Academy help you pass on your passion for mathematics to your students.
The materials available in be3D Academy make it easier for you to realize the potential of 3D printing in the STEAM subjects. Our training videos, basic lessons plans, models, and curriculum guidance are free, and we also have 3D print training to help you on your way.
We are ready to provide you with the resources and guidance needed to give you a hear start with 3D printing in your math classes. We welcome your ideas on projects you'd like to see as 3D lessons. Let us know in the comment section below.
Register now for access to the materials to inspire and prepare your students for the challenges of tomorrow.
You may also want to read the other article in this series ‘A Guide to lesson planning for 3D Printing’:
Elke Heiss
Elke Heiss used to be our CMO, a role currently held by Adam Bishop.
View all posts by Elke Heiss

Subscribe to our newsletter