Just a few short years ago, 3D printing was the stuff of science fiction movies. However, like so many other things we first saw on sci-fi shows, it’s gone from being fantasy to reality. 3D Printing is changing the way we do many things, and rapidly.
While 3D printing is still in its infancy, it’s already being used to create prototypes, low cost parts and machines, and in many other applications. There’s even research being done into 3D printing organs and 3D printed houses will be a low-cost solution in many parts of the world.
It’s technology that is changing the world, and it’s a very cool way to get your child interested in innovative STEM technology in many fields. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is 3D Printing?
3D printing is a complex process that resembles traditional printing in many ways. However, instead of placing thin layers of ink on paper, it positions successive layers of other materials on top of each other, in a three-dimensional space, to create objects rather than pictures.
Various materials can be used in this type of printing, and there are new technologies being developed all the time.
How Does 3D Printing Work?
The end result of 3D printing looks a lot like sculpture or carving, but there are some key differences. Instead of starting with a block of material and then removing some to reveal the finished article, 3D printing starts with a design and then deposits thin layers of whatever material is being printed into an empty space. It’s more precise and less wasteful, because you only need the material that will be part of the finished article.
The great thing about 3D printing is that because it’s so new, we’ve only just started to scratch the surface of potential applications.
As this process becomes more accepted and accessible, the career options will grow and there will be possible applications in STEM, arts and crafts, mechanical fields, and many more. There will also be more career options in the hardware and software fields of this type of printing as the demand for commercial and DIY printing equipment grows.
Get Your Kids Involved
Kids love 3D printing because it looks so much like magic (and it kind of is, although it’s the magic of science)! Getting your kids excited about these kinds of technologies is a great way to foster a love of STEM technology in general, and there are several ways you can do just that. Tinkering around in free 3D design software like TinkerCad (https://www.tinkercad.com ) provides a great way to learn about 3D Design and Printing in an accessible way.
You can also contact us at STEM MINDS ([email protected]) to learn more about our variety of options to learn more about 3D Design and Printing. We offer weekly programs, summer camps, and school workshops that focus on these revolutionary technologies and provide children of all ages with the opportunity to develop their design skills!