“More is going to be done with 3D printing within schools – and cross-departmentally. We are already seeing different uses in physics, chemistry, and geography. It won’t just be limited to the Design and Technology department,” said Hughes.
For one geography project, students printed 3D reliefs of mountain ranges in order to explore contours in a more hands on visual way that students were able to interact with. Students also produced replicas of chemical bonds for chemistry, where they printed different modules and produced cell structures that ultimately needed to be bolted together.
“One of the issues that we have had to overcome, as we have placed more emphasis on 3D printing, is ensuring that both pupils and school leadership understand the benefits and freedom that additive manufacture offers us. It was important to ensure that they were aware of the rigorous application of knowledge and skills needed, and how it would complement and enhance the delivery of the subject in order to justify the significant investment of both time and money.
“The limitation of how useful a technology such as 3D printing is for us, has been the limitation of the skills of our students in CAD. Once they are more proficient in CAD, then they can apply that to other manufacturing methods like 3D printing or laser cutting. With limited CAD skills, you’re limiting what can be done in the next stage of production, and students are forced to turn to Open Source websites to download 3D models” Hughes noted.
The Design and Technology department has placed significant importance in embedding CAD skills at the beginning of any student’s time at the school and then building upon those skills each year. As a result, this allows students to produce more challenging and useful prints—successfully.
3D printing has become an integral part of our delivery of Design and Technology across all school years. It has not replaced our emphasis on students developing knowledge and understanding of material properties, design and traditional manufacture, but instead has allowed our students to choose the most appropriate manufacturing method to fully realize their creative potential.