As I dove into the 3D printing 4 Teaching & Learning project, a whole new world opened in front of me. In the many places I go, I see innovative applications of 3D printers. The other day, for instance, I was walking down an upscale shopping street in Amsterdam when I saw two 3D printers on display. As I took a closer look, I discovered that the shop was a high fashion shoe store that used 3D printers as an inspiration for their new designs. They use 3D printing to give their brand an innovative and trendy image. It is worthwhile having a look at their website to enjoy some of their highly expressive 3D printed designs.
While 3D printing is often presented as a very recent development, I discovered 3D printing has quite a history already. In the 1990s, the first 3D objects were printed. In 2002, the use of 3D printing in medicine became a reality, as a working kidney was 3D printed. In 2008, the first person walked on a 3D-printed prosthetic leg, and in 2011, engineers at the University of Southampton designed and flew in the world’s first 3D-printed aircraft. In short, 3D printing already has quite a history and, as a glance at the picture would testify, is not as revolutionary as the shoe designs of united nude make us believe.
The discovery of the history of 3D printing, together with my observation in Amsterdam, made me realize that implementation techniques of 3D printing have developed at high speed. 3D printing is no longer limited to the field of science, but it is now used in many sectors like business and fashion. It is therefore highly anticipated that the future generation will experience a lot more 3D printing in their future workspaces. I think it is a great and essential development that we pay attention to the role of 3D printing in education and learning. As 3D printing can enthuse designers of shoes, it may also inspire those who design and craft learning environments: teachers. I look forward to seeing 3D printed designs function in classrooms and trigger the curiosity of students.
official versions of the pictures can be retrieved from: