Best Practice

The world of 3D printing

The government has extended its 3D printing school pilots with the aim of building a portfolio of best practice. Gerald Haigh reports on what many agree is the next big technological revolution.

A government-funded pilot which put 3D printers into 21 schools last academic year has now been extended to a further 60. Many other pioneer teachers have been working with the technology for some time. And from 2014, 3D printing is in the design and technology curriculum.

At one level, 3D printing is pure magic. Press “print” on your laptop and instead of a sheet of A4, the device on the table next to you produces a flower vase, suitable as a Christmas present for your Auntie Flo.

Educators, though, cannot simply bask in the wonder of the party trick. So, as you watch the vase take shape, imagine a world where products of all shapes, sizes and functions are no longer trucked, shipped and flown around the globe. Instead, designs and ideas are bought, sold, shared, and given away on the internet, to be printed in shops, factories and homes close to where they are needed. 

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