The 3D printing industry is in a time of rapid expansion, projections of the market share are expected to triple by 2026. With this comes the need for the expansion of 3D printing in education and the development of comprehensive curriculums in order to expand the number of experts in the field. However, there are still numerous 3D printing lab issues in schools looking to move into the space.
This process has started with schools like MIT, Virginia Tech and Penn State, but this is only the beginning of the trend. Due to this trend, it is vital for schools to understand some of the major challenges they will face when trying to create a 3D printing lab.
The following will outline some of the major 3D printing lab issues in schools, as well as solutions to remedy those issues:
Cost of Establishing the Lab
- The most glaring 3D printing lab issue is the cost. From the printer itself to the materials needed to print, 3D printing can be expensive. However, by understanding what 3D printing facilities are required for your school, it is far easier to pay the right price. By creating a committee focused on the creation of the lab, schools can be sure they have the right equipment at the right price.
Join us for an upcoming webinar when a VA Tech lab teacher and one of his students talk about how GrabCAD Shop has transformed their AOE lab.
- Most schools only have the funding, space and equipment for one lab. In some cases the site of the printers and the lab itself are different. This wastes the time of professors, TA’s and students who must travel from building to building to print their designs.
- On top of this, communication between students and faculty on projects is conducted through email or other communication mediums not designed for 3D print. This slows the process further, wasting valuable time. Luckily, GrabCAD Shop, a centralized work order management system, allows students and faculty to streamline the printing process.
- Finally, there are the issues with the printers themselves. 3D printers, especially cheaper models, have a tendency to jam and misprint along with a number of other mechanical errors. Beyond this, printers have a relatively short lifespan and must be replaced when the technology becomes out of date. These issues not only waste time, materials and money, but they add frustration to the process of 3D printing. Although this can not be avoided, there are techniques and processes that can help combat these issues. Cleaning the printer after use and changing the nozzle help prevent the printers from breaking down. These relatively cheap and easy processes should extend the longevity of your printers and prevent them from breaking down.
3D printing is a valuable resource for all educational institutions. With the heightened interest in the field of 3D printing, its ability to draw new students will only increase. With this being the case, it is important that schools develop 3D printing capabilities, however they must plan and execute these labs with care and precision to avoid wasting precious time and money.