Distributed 3D Printing for Schools

3D printing as a means to rapidly improve education has long been an interest of mine. Most of the focus of 3D printing in education has been on STEM and students doing the making. I believe a major opportunity and means of showcasing the value to students is for schools and teachers to adopt the technology to create classroom equipment, tactile learning aids, and to adapt existing items.

Education, especially special education, is underserved in many areas resulting in niche needs and small budgets. That’s the perfect scenario for 3D printing to make a big impact.

3D printing can be time consuming when you need to print multiple copies and it does require a level of technical expertise.

Imagine a 3D printing farm in each school district that prints on-demand items for classrooms. It’s run by students and also serves the local community.

Here’s my solution

On-Demand Volume 3D Printing for Schools

The Problem

3D Printing is too time consuming to change every day learning in schools


Cloud based, 3D printing farm in districts to make class wide projects and curriculum aids easy


Students and teachers can “order” 3D printed items through a school run website.  They can choose color, material, and date needed.  Objects are printed at a district run 3D printer farm and then delivered within 3 days through interoffice mail.  

This allows users with no printing knowledge to produce 1 or 30 copies of an object in a short amount of time.  A classroom of students can test their designs within a week or a teacher can get a class set of a learning aid within a week for immediate use.  This turnaround of multiple copies is not possible with a single 3D printer in the classroom.


  • Enable class wide printing of student projects (ie. wind turbine blades to test)
  • Class sets of lesson objects (ie. molecules, artifact replicas)
  • Save money
    • Share class sets of lesson objects
    • Print custom items instead of purchasing expensive commercial objects (ie. anatomy models)
  • Save time
    • Only train the people running the printer farm
    • Sell service to neighboring schools
  • No printer down time
  • Wider adoption of “maker” philosophy in schools
    • Don’t have to be an expert with printers
    • Can find and order class sets
  • Track utilization of technology in real time

Impact on Education

  • Mindset change of how durable physical objects are created and used in education that results in more personalized learning
  • Unique learning aids designed for lesson and student needs in mind
  • More use of physical objects to support learning that is otherwise impossible
    • Printing of artifacts that do not have replicas available for purchase
  • “Engineering” becomes an everyday thing in all classes

Possible Downsides

  • Initial cost
  • Dedicated IT person.  If the farm/software is run by student volunteers overseen by IT this could be a benefit for students
  • Teachers/administrators have to adopt a “maker” approach for it to be successful


Cloud Printing Software

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