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Introduction to 3D Printing for Education

Nearly 1000 schools and universities worldwide currently run on Markforged solutions, with our 3D printing systems used in academic programs, research labs, and makerspaces.

This blog post provides an overview of how 3D printing is commonly used in education, how academic institutions can benefit from investing in 3D printing platforms, the growing opportunity for additive manufacturing education programs, how leading universities are using Markforged printers, and selected 3D printing case studies and resources.

How can universities benefit from investing in 3D printing resources?

As 3D printing revolutionizes the possibilities of manufacturing in all industries - from aerospace and automotive, to consumer goods and medical devices - investing in 3D printing resources can help universities equip the next generation of technology leaders with future-facing skill sets. Educational institutions can benefit from providing accessibility to 3D printing systems and 3D printing education for students and researchers through:

Attracting talent into STEM and engineering programs. Access to cutting edge technology, with a strong 3D printing curriculum, can directly enhance the value of programs in engineering and materials sciences for prospective students.

Improved design project outcomes. Access to 3D printing resources can provide new opportunities for, and improve the quality of student projects in capstone engineering and senior design courses. Student activities - such as robotics, rocketry, Formula SAE, Baja, Solar Car, and other related clubs and competitions - will have a competitive advantage with AM resources.

Recognition for innovative projects, as well as winning inter-university competitions, garners recognition - which can in turn boost the institution’s reputation.

Job placement for new graduates in top companies using AM technologies. As additive manufacturing applications broaden and mature across industries, students and graduates who have developed skills and experience with AM technologies are increasingly sought after by employers.

Partnerships. Being well-equipped with the right assortment of 3D printers can position universities as desirable partners for corporations interested in sponsorships and special projects.

Productivity. In lab settings, having readily available 3D printers reduces supply chain complexity and wait times for the acquisition of specific parts, while also expanding the range of accessible tools and parts - thus reducing logistical bottlenecks.

How are schools and universities using 3D printing today?

3D printing in universities and other academic institutions is used for:

Enhancing academic programs in STEM. As uses and applications for additive manufacturing (AM) continue to expand, providing future engineering leaders with hands-on experience using the tools and technologies currently being used today can ensure they are prepared to tackle real-world challenges across the industries they will enter after graduation.

Markforged 3D printers are capable of creating parts in a variety of different materials and processes, and can be useful for deeply exploring material properties and processes in disciplines such as material science engineering.

Aside from the growing competitive need for additive manufacturing education amongst leading STEM education programs, 3D printing in schools can provide a number of other tangible benefits in the classroom and enhance learning experiences. 3D printing projects for students can help develop technical and design skills, improve visual learning, aid the development of problem-solving skills, and more.

Makerspaces. Many universities use additive manufacturing equipment in makerspace labs available to students. Having 3D printers in makerspaces can help foster creative and critical-thinking approaches to manufacturing and engineering problems amongst students who will move on to work in different technical industries.

Research. In lab settings, AM can be used to improve productivity by reducing the complexity, cost, and effort of acquiring mission-critical parts needed to drive experimental work forward. Armed with additive manufacturing resources, researchers in engineering fields – such as mechanical, biomedical, manufacturing, product design, and aerospace – will have a broader range of accessible tools at their disposal to solve hard problems, without the lead times and procurement hassles of outside shops and vendors.

Growing opportunities for additive manufacturing in education

In today’s additive manufacturing landscape, engineers are only beginning to realize the full range of potential applications for these technologies. The possibilities for additive manufacturing are expanding constantly, and the value of 3D printing in education will only increase for universities on the cutting edge of science and technology.

Factors such as AM industry growth and a skilled labor shortage in engineering and manufacturing are creating demand for university graduates with the right technical skill sets:

Industry growth in additive manufacturing. Lux Research in Boston projects the additive manufacturing market to reach $51 billion in 2030, compared to $12 billion in 2020 - growing at a 15% compound annual growth rate.

Due to the increase in the number of materials and methods compatible with additive manufacturing, applications are broadening, and AM is growing at a much faster rate than traditional, subtractive manufacturing technologies.

Engineering and manufacturing labor shortage. With senior-level engineers and technicians retiring at an alarming rate, the available talent pool largely consists of recent university graduates. By providing a low-cost way to learn through iterating frequently and failing fast, 3D printing can help engineers accelerate the path to maturity.

Life Science Labs at UMass Amherst

Universities using Markforged printers

We believe that Markforged can offer the best 3D printer for schools. Today, a number of leading universities incorporate Markforged technology in their curriculums and makerspaces, including:

  • Purdue University uses two Markforged Metal Xs and two Mark Twos in its Bechtel Innovation Design Center - an advanced prototyping facility and manufacturing center for students (case study)
  • Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) added Markforged printers in its AMPrint Center. The center is focused on equipping students with the best and safest industrial 3D printers for education (case study)
  • Saskatchewan Polytechnic uses Markforged printers to educate future engineers in manufacturing technologies
  • UMass Amherst uses Markforged printers in its ADDFab (Advanced Digital Design and Fabrication Core Facility) in the Life Sciences lab - for designing and printing industrial-grade parts, additive manufacturing research, and technology curricula (case study)
  • Oklahoma State University uses two Onyx Pros, two Mark Twos, an X7 and a Metal X in its ENDEAVOR facility. ENDEAVOR is a 72,000 ft undergraduate facility with 12 laboratories, five makerspace locations, and five design laboratories (case study)

Markforged for academic institutions

Despite their advanced capabilities, Markforged printers are easy to use, even for those experiencing additive technologies for the first time. Our philosophy is to design reliable products with straightforward user interfaces (UI) and easy to understand workflows, and that carries over into both our physical devices as well as our Eiger slicing and fleet management software. We build 3D printing systems that require minimal manual configuration or calibration, so that users can effortlessly go from digital 3D model to physical 3D printed part.

We also offer Markforged University, which is a self-paced online curriculum that teaches the core concepts of additive manufacturing and Markforged technologies to students, regardless of their experience with 3D printing. Over 40 courses on a wide variety of topics provides students with the skills and knowledge they need to be competent now and in the future. All students at your institution get access to Markforged University through our Digital Forge Subscriptions.

Interested in learning more about the Digital Forge? Contact us to learn more.

Resources for academic institutions

  1. Education and Research - The right 3D printer for education can make a big difference. Access case studies for how leading universities are leveraging additive manufacturing technologies in cutting edge education programs.
  2. Learning Library - from 3D printing basics to in-depth webinars and walkthroughs covering design for additive manufacturing, get to know the landscape of additive manufacturing and how you can make the most of Markforged 3D printing.
  3. Additive Manufacturing Trends Report - see what’s possible with additive manufacturing, and find out how they are transforming their design and production workflows.
  4. Product Data Sheets- learn which 3D printer for schools best fits into your organization’s needs.
  5. Customer Success Stories - see how modern manufacturers and other organizations are transforming business around the world with Markforged 3D printing.

All of the blogs and the information contained within those blogs are copyright by Markforged, Inc. and may not be copied, modified, or adopted in any way without our written permission. Our blogs may contain our service marks or trademarks, as well as of those our affiliates. Your use of our blogs does not constitute any right or license for you to use our service marks or trademarks without our prior permission. Markforged Information provided in our blogs should not be considered professional advice. We are under no obligation to update or revise blogs based on new information, subsequent events, or otherwise.

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