I began thinking though, how could this technology be applied to other subject areas? According Eddie Krassenstein's article titled "Why 3D Printing Needs to Take Off In Schools Around the World," Math classes can use 3D printers to create three dimensional graphs, charts, and complex models to take a subject area which "could normally be quite boring" and allow it to bring a "cool factor" to learning. Another example from Krassentstein's article was having art classes in different areas to work on a collaborative design, then students could print their finished product on their respective printers to see how their designs turned out.
According to Krassenstein, he believes that "History classes have the most to gain from 3D printing technology." It allows for history teachers to create reproduced artifacts that you could place in student hands. This could drastically transform how students learn about history by being able to actually see and feel reproductions of historical pieces that they may not have ever had access to. That is very powerful learning! Geography classes could also benefit from the technology as it would allow for the creation of topographical maps. This has the ability to show the impact that geological features and geographical boundaries have on the human experience.
One question that many schools are asking, "how much does 3D printing technology cost?" I remember a few years ago when we first heard of 3D printing, many were throwing around printer costs upwards of $5,000. When researching 3D printers, the price has gone down substantially the past few years. Many experts believe that with new models and capabilities, the price will continue to fall substantially. Richard Baguley of Tomsguide.com recently released the "Best 3D Printers of 2016." According to Baguley the best budget printer, the M3D Micro 3D Printer has a price tag of $499.99, which makes it affordable. For 3D printing enthusiasts, he has the Lulzbot Taz 6 rated as the best high-end printer. It is listed at a price of $2,500. 3D Printers have gone down in price, but are still very costly to purchase and implement.
I see 3D printing as a very valuable tool in the school setting. Not only do they allow for critical thinking and creation, but also for analysis, collaboration, and good ole fashion fun! To be successful though, strong lesson plans must be created and teachers must spend considerable time researching and learning how to use the machines themselves. I personally cannot wait to get my hands one one. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.