3D printing technology: now and the future

April 19, 2018

The first of our Creator Class workshop series was held on Tuesday 17 April.  This series provides participants with an introduction to various technologies currently being used at Monash Tech School which are critical to the emergence and operation of Industry 4.0. The first focused on 3D Printing and Computer Aided Design (CAD). As you will read below in a short time participants were introduced to the types and theories behind these technologies in addition to being able to create their own 3D printed item.



With its magnificent variety of technologies, wide range of applications, ability to enable a creative and personalised design process, 3D printing has been intriguing the world for many years, particularly recently as the cost to entry has made it accessible to the broader community


Kicking off the workshop, facilitator Matthew Jarvis unveiled its beauty and power through a demonstration of the history of 3D printing,  applications, materials and model design. In addition, the benefits and drawbacks of this technology were also introduced. We learnt that the earliest 3D printing technology can be dated to the late 1980s when it was deployed as a rapid and cost-effective technique for manufacturing and developing prototypes within industry. Great strides in 3D printing technology and material science have given rise to a number of sensational applications across varying subjects and industrial areas.


Biomedical engineering adopts 3D printing technology to create body parts, limbs and organs, while 3D printing technology enables aerospace and automotive companies to take less time to manufacture stronger, lighter products and advance more intricate designs. Architects integrate 3D printing technology with their designs to create vivid layout models and can even utilise the technology to construct entire buildings. Outside of manufacturing and fabrication, fashion designers and artists utilise 3D printing technology in various ways to prototype and refine their artworks. This new insight has allowed me to embrace the idea of 3D printing technology in my media arts learning and teaching practices supporting my creative thinking and design skills beyond 2D media arts.


While there are considerable benefits of 3D printing technology, they are not without limitations that constrain their practical implementation and challenge our thinking of how we may best utilise them, such as expensive hardware and maintenance, and the lack of colours.  


After this introduction, we learnt about the entire process of 3D printing consisting of 3D model design, slicing, and printing. Then through a material matching game, participants identified and compared the features, physical properties, and practical uses of a diversity of 3D printer filament. The game prompted enthusiastic engagement and discussion about the similarities and differences among a range of plastic materials among participants.


To acquaint ourselves with the basics of 3D model design, we explored the TinkerCAD software and extended our understandings of 3D design techniques through the creation of 3D TinkerCAD models. The presentable workplace and manageable tools of TinkerCAD enabled me to create a customised 3D model with just a few clicks and moves.


As a media arts teacher, I have experienced the impressive application of 3D technology within and beyond media arts subjects. It was great for me to reflect on the prospect of how to encourage students with 3D printing technology and integrate the technology with media/arts teaching in a way that ensures student’ creative and critical thinking benefit from its implementation.


Overall, I, and my fellow Pre-Service Teachers, and the others who attended the workshop, really enjoyed the hour-long session. It gave us a deep understanding of 3D printing and how it works, and how we can start to implement it into the classroom. We only wish the session went longer because we were having that good of a time, and learning so much. We all loved the session, and are definitely hoping to attend the future Creator Classes.


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