3D Printers Cheaper, Getting More Use in Schools, Libraries


When people think of 3D printing, many think of a new technology that is out of reach and too complicated to use even if they had access to it. However, the buying trends of 3D printers, particularly among schools and libraries, show that isn’t true.

Many libraries have purchased 3D printers allowing patrons to make items ranging from cookie cutters to replacement parts for tools. According to research firm Gartner, 3D printer sales will double over the next four years. The 2,100 percent increase in sales that is projected to happen by 2018 can be attributed first to automobile, aerospace, and consumer-good manufacturers.

But 1.8 million of sales out of a projected 2.3 million are expected to be purchased by consumers, writes Melissa Workman for The Christian Science Monitor. This includes institutions such as public libraries, and schools that see the educational benefits of these ‘maker’ devices.

Now that 3D printers are popping up in more schools, companies are developing software that students can use to create their designs.

An Australian based start-up called Maker’s Empire has created a 3D printing program for tablets geared towards kids.

Maker’s Empire promises: “If you can use a tablet, you can design and print in 3D,” with “no special software skills needed.”

While kids are able to use the program at home (it’s available for download from the Apple and Android app stores) its best use may be in the classroom. The lesson plans provided in the program are up-to-date with school curricula in Australia, the US and UK, writes Sarah Anderson for 3Dprint.

Another company that seeks to make 3D printing more accessible for kids is MakerClub. The startup hopes to sell student-friendly kits that allow kids to build robots with the use of a 3D printer. The kits include servo motors, wiring, and the open-source chipset Arduino.

In the future, the company will introduce the MarkerConnect. It will allow users to connect a Bluetooth chip to a universal remote on their smartphone through an app, writes Leo Lutero for PSFK.

We think 3D printers are the key to a whole new world of engaging education. Our projects make that dream possible. Linking 3D design, coding and electronics to create cross-curricular learning tools that are relevant to young people’s lives.

Countries all over the world including the US, Canada, UK, Australia, South Korea, and Japan all have initiatives in the works to educate their people about 3D printing and it’s educational benefits, writes Mike Mouilso for Seeking Alpha. Many schools see 3D printing as a way to help drive STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) curriculum.