Man working on a 3D printer. Man working on a 3D printer. Stratasys is offering 3D printing curriculum for educators for free. (Photo: Stratasys Corporate/Flickr)

3D printing 101

Educators now have free access to a valuable 3D printing curriculum – and they're ready to teach.

If you've ever worked, written about, studied or have been otherwise interested in anything involving technology, chances are you've heard of the revolutionary piece of machinery known as the 3D printer.

This technology, which is basically an industrial robot that makes physical copies of three-dimensional objects, is becoming an indispensable tool in manufacturing companies around the world, vital for prototyping, design and idea development. And now, it’s coming to the classroom. 

3D printing company Stratasys, which has offices in Minneapolis, Minn., and Rehovot, Israel, has introduced a new, free course with materials available to educators to help people whose careers are being transformed, expanded or otherwise affected by 3D printing. The full-semester, 14-week course is aimed at preparing secondary and post-secondary students worldwide who are either thinking about entering a 3D printing-related field or just want to enhance their skills. 

Learning materials are free to educators and include a curriculum guide, supporting presentations, 3D models and grading tools. 

"We notice a strong demand coming from the industry for a curriculum focusing on 3D printing," Shelly Linor, director of global education for Stratasys, said in a news release. "Educators around the world now have an opportunity to make a big impact by using and contributing to our curriculum. They will also be able to better prepare their students for future careers as 3D printing is becoming an intrinsic part of the design and manufacturing processes in leading companies."

This 3D-printed TurboProp engine model was created out of a partnership between Stratasys and Autodesk.This 3D-printed TurboProp engine model was created out of a partnership between Stratasys and Autodesk. (Photo: Stratasys Corporate/Flickr)

The course, called "Introduction to 3D Printing: From Design to Fabrication," explores 3D printing in terms of its history, established applications, forward-looking trends, and potential social and economic impacts. Students in the course are asked to develop a project based on the theme "Make Something that Moves Something." By the end of the course, students will be able to design and 3D-print a fully functioning object in a single build.

Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston is one of several schools using Stratasys' 3D printing curriculum. "There are going to be many instructors out there who would love to teach a course in 3D printing but who simply do not have enough time to do the detailed research and to prepare professional level presentations," Assistant Professor Steve Chomyszak said in a press release. "Stratasys has now made it much easier for any instructor to offer a college level course on the subject."

Stratasys has gained renown for its work in 3D printing. It's joined forces with several companies to shore up manufacturing inefficiencies and solve problems, including a partnership with blood-recycling machine manufacturer Brightwake. 3D printing was also used in the development of a wheelchair customized for children, and SpaceX founder Elon Musk said he plans to 3D-print a rocket engine for his space transport program.

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