3D-Printing Redefining Higher Ed: Great Examples and Case Studies

3D-Printing Redefining Higher Ed: Great Examples and Case Studies

The growing trends in higher education are including various technologies that are redefining the various aspects of higher education and training.

We are aware that higher education holds a significant importance in every student’s life as it is one influential step in the making of their career, integration of technology has been highly helpful as well as encouraged within the sector for better results.

Although, institutes are making good use of technology for various reasons 3D Printing continues to be one intriguing innovation. There is an existing space for experimentation and practical application, as well as palpable enthusiasm for the technology among both teachers and students and this makes the cards shine bright for every new technology.

With all the various technologies, this post is focused on the use of 3D Printing in higher education. Also known as Additive Manufacturing, it is the process of creating an object by printing or laying down material layers until the object is formed, this is one big innovation and has already started making an impact in the higher education. Although, it is commonly associated with maker education and working wonders in the STEM education, 3D printing can also be a part of other subjects other than STEM like arts and literature. Obviously, there are areas such as physics, engineering, chemistry, and robotics where it is a natural fit. But, with a little creativity and forethought, this technology could become a valuable aspect of nearly any educator’s repertoire. In a post by Online Universities, they talk of the incorporation of 3D printing for various subjects like Biology, Literature, History, Archaeology, Art, eLearning and Foreign Languages. Mentioning the importance of bringing education to life and using model to demonstrate learning, the post explains how educators can use this technology in various subjects and help students explore more about the various aspects to a particular subject.    

To help you understand better below are some examples and case studies of universities that highlights the impact of using 3D Printing and what all amazing things students are doing around the globe with this technology.

In a post by Patrick Colegrove on EDUCAUSE Review, he talks of 3D Printing as a Library Service where based on his findings he mentions:

- Findings from a University of Nevada, Reno, project indicate that higher education's need for 3D printing services could be both substantial and broad-based across disciplines.

- Users from across disciplinary and organizational boundaries quickly adopted a 3D printing service implemented in a UNR academic library, with the new printers operating at or near capacity throughout the service's first year.

- Anecdotal observation suggests that 3D printer access directly enables deeper engagement with and construction of knowledge.

Patrick Colegrove is head of the DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library, University of Nevada, Reno. In early 2012, the DeLaMare Science & Engineering Library at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), became one of the first academic libraries in the United States to provide 3D printing and scanning support as a library service explicitly available to all UNR students, faculty, and staff, as well as the public. Following a successful launch, the services were quickly adopted as a key component of the library's support of UNR's learning, teaching, and research missions.

Check out the complete research here.

The other great example is that of Scripps Institution. Martin Rapa, developmental engineer for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP), is responsible for designing and implementing deep-sea seismic research equipment. With help from a handful of students in the engineering department Rapa produces every component for the Institute’s ocean bottom seismology instruments.

Our equipment packages are installed in half-ton, free-fall vehicles, deployed on ships all over the world,” Rapa said.

Rapa’s students are well versed in using 3D computer-aided design (CAD) software to create prototypes and parts for deep-sea instruments, but waiting for functional machine made prototypes became costly and inefficient, often delaying deployment for weeks or months at a time while waiting for the next research vessel to depart. Over several years, IGPP spent thousands of dollars developing full-scale prototypes and either machining them by hand on-site or sending the designs to a third party for fabrication.

We wanted to give students a break from hands-on machining in the shop, which is not very cost-effective or appropriate for their skills training.

Since purchasing the Stratasys Dimension 3D Printer, the IGPP has seen a 50 percent reduction in time and expense incurred for parts manufacturing, allowing the Institute to deploy new instrument packages faster and more cost-effectively than ever before. Any university that wants to keep up with the latest manufacturing technology should consider a Dimension 3D Printer.”

— Martin Rapa, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Check out their complete research here.

However, the most impressive use of 3D printing is being done at “The Lawrence University Interdisciplinary: Makerspace for Engaged Learning.” They share some of their practices mentioned below that highlight the importance of 3D Printing, the impact it has and the revolutionary technology it is.

- Five seniors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created the Oreo 3D printing project for their school’s Engineering Open House. They modified an Ultimaker 2 Extended so that it would trace out a person’s initials in cake frosting, Nutella, or pudding on an Oreo.

- A team of students working on their senior capstone project at Rice University’s School of Engineering developed a testing suite for the effectiveness of 3D printed prosthetic hands.

- Researchers at the University of Michigan partnered with the Belgium-based company Materialise to create an airway splint to prevent the collapse of windpipes in babies with tracheobronchomalacia. This 3D printing technology is bioresorbable; it grows with the babies and eventually dissolves.

There is a complete list of the innovations that are being done in higher education with 3D printing that you can’t miss. It seems that that 3D Printing is going to be the next trend in education that will change the way we perceive education. It might be slow, but we can’t deny that slow and steady wins the race! ;)

Relatable Read:

The Intersection of STEM and 3D Printing in HigherEd.

The future of higher education: reshaping universities through 3D printing

The Influence Of Education On The 3D Printing Industry

Share your take on the same with us in the comment section below. 

About the Author
Author: Priyanka Gupta
Priyanka is a blogger by profession and has an increasing interest to write about the edtech space. While writing she keeps in mind the educators to come up with right resources and ideas which might be relevant for them in relation to effective use of technology in their profession and institutions/classrooms.
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