3D Printing and Hands Online

Mon, 23 Jun, 2014

Recently I attended the ASCUE (Association of Small Computing Users in Education) conference where the 3D printer was presented as an option for creating more interactive, hands-on courses. 

For example, one instructor used the 3D printer to create a negative mold of a heart for an anatomy class.  The instructor created an activity that focused on building a model of the heart using play-doh to fill the negative mold created by the 3D virtual printer.  Students were better able to visualize the anatomy of the heart as well as the inner workings of the heart.  

Now, some of you may be thinking why a 3D printer?  The cost of the same heart model was approximately $320.00 on sale while printing the negative mold cost approximately $2.12 for the material.  This cost of printing does not factor in the original cost of the printer estimated at $3,000.  

Expanding on this idea further, scanners can be used to create objects to print as well.  Historians could use these scanners to re-create artifacts or items of historical significance.  Microbiologists could use 3D printing to create 3D models of bacteria.  

What is fascinating is that the limits of 3D printing have not been fully explored.  Printers can print plastic and some [of course more expensive models] can print in metal.  

What could you do with a 3D printer?


Katherine Spradley
Director of Campbell University Online