What is 3D Scanning and Printing?

Known in industrial circles as rapid prototyping, 3D printing refers to technologies that construct physical objects from three-dimensional (3D) digital content such as 3D modeling software, computer-aided design (CAD) tools, computer-aided tomography (CAT), and X-ray crystallography. A 3D printer builds a tangible model or prototype from the electronic file, one layer at a time, through an extrusion-like process using plastics and other flexible materials, or an inkjet-like process to spray a bonding agent onto a very thin layer of fixable powder. The deposits created by the machine can be applied very accurately to build an object from the bottom up, layer by layer, with resolutions that, even in the least expensive machines, are more than sufficient to express a large amount of detail. The process even accommodates moving parts within the object. Using different materials and bonding agents, color can be applied, and parts can be rendered in plastic, resin, or metal. This technology is commonly used in manufacturing to build prototypes of almost any object (scaled to fit the printer, of course) that can be conveyed in three dimensions.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Any unit of study that includes the necessity to closely examine artefacts or samples such as geological or biological specimens from multiple view points could benefit from 3D scanning to allow both virtual and physical outputs for investigation e.g. the use of 3D Printing technology to produce facsimiles of ancient historical artefacts or anthropological specimens for investigation by students. - helen.carter helen.carter Feb 12, 2014
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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Should mention the additional materials that are becoming available such as candy and carbon fiber - jnxyz jnxyz Feb 6, 2014
  • I've added 3D scanning to 3D printing, as they are closely linked - helen.carter helen.carter Feb 12, 2014
  • I think 3D printing is becoming so mainstream in higher education now, it is not particularly on the 'horizon'. .. maybe the focus should be more on the materials that are being used to print eg. skin cells, or 4D printing e.g. Skylar Tibbits @ MIT - the capacity of a printed material to move once it has been created - c.macken c.macken Feb 23, 2014c.macken

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • It's hard not to under-estimate the impact that this will have - but I think the biggest will be the closing of the physical to digital and back to physical loop. Another impact is the focus that 3D printing puts on creation and design as the main purpose of the tech - jnxyz jnxyz - helen.carter helen.carter Feb 12, 2014
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • Students at Australian School of Mathematics and Science (year 11 & 12) in South Australia are doing great things with 3D printers and building rocket cars
  • Fully-online course that includes rich graphic activities for students of Egyptology through the use of 3D scans of authentic ancient egyptian artefacts. Development includes texturing workflows for surface verisimilitude and development of a plugin-free and mobile friendly web interface for presentation for both virtual delivery and physical delivery via 3D printing technologies.
    http://staff.mq.edu.au/teaching/workshops_programs/fpp_overview/showcase/3d/ - helen.carter helen.carter Feb 12, 2014
  • At La Trobe University, the Health Sciences department are printing articulated prosthetic hands. A great write up of 3D printing recently showcased in Melbourne is available at this blog site - https://blogs.unimelb.edu.au/researchservices/2013/12/17/2013-3d-printing-showcase/
- c.macken c.macken Feb 23, 2014c.macken
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