Tag Archives: Hod Lipson

3D Printing in the Classroom to Accelerate Adoption of Technology

3D Printing Classroom Cornell

Interest in 3D printing is increasing, and there are new programs introducing the technology into the classroom to encourage students to get exposure to the potential of 3D printing at an early age.

In a recent New York Times blog post following President Obama’s State of the Union address, the question was posed:

“Can the United States get a foothold in manufacturing one 3D printer at a time?”

The article continued to cite several examples of how education programs for 3D printing may make this reality.

Hod Lipson Cornell 3D Printing

First, the Creative Machine Labs at Cornell:

Hod Lipson, an associate professor and the director of the Creative Machines Lab at Cornell, said “3-D printing is worming its way into almost every industry, from entertainment, to food, to bio- and medical-applications.”

It won’t necessarily directly create manufacturing jobs, except perhaps for the printers themselves. Dr. Lipson, the co-author of “Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing,” said that the technology “is not going to simply replace existing manufacturing anytime soon.” But he said he believed that it would give rise to new businesses. “The bigger opportunity in the U.S. is that it opens and creates new business models that are based on this idea of customization.”

University of Virginia Professor Glen Bull a Leader in Promoting Educational Technology

Second, new programs at the University of Virginia:

In addition to the lab that the president mentioned, a federally financed manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio, schools are embracing the technology. The University of Virginia has been working to introduce 3D printers into some programs from kindergarten through 12th grade in Charlottesville to prepare students for a new future in manufacturing.

“We have 3D printers in classrooms, and in one example, we’re teaching kids how to design and print catapults that they then analyze for efficiency,” said Glen L. Bull, professor and co-director of the Center for Technology and Teacher Education. “We believe that every school in America could have a 3D printer in the classroom in the next few years.”

The education system may want to speed things up. The time between predictions for 3D printers and the reality of what they can accomplish is compressing rapidly.


Read the full feature at the NYTimes blog.

3D Printing Crosses Academic Boundaries at Universities

3D Printing at Universities

3D printing has historically been seen as a tool for engineers and designers to rapidly prototype. Now the technology is crossing academic boundaries at universities and being adopted by various disciplines.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on this trend.

Colleges and universities are finding more and more uses for 3-D-printing technology, which has grown in sophistication and fallen in price in recent years. Some proponents argue that nearly every discipline could benefit from the ability to easily create objects from customized designs. “We want this for humanities, for social sciences, for bio people, for law school, so what’s interesting about 3-D printing is that it touches on all these areas,” says Hod Lipson, a professor of mechanical engineering and of computing and information science at Cornell University, who is creating a 3-D-printing course for nonengineers.

What are some examples of students using 3D printing across disciplines? 

Art: “When an art student at the University of Washington wanted to bring her vision of a futuristic animal to life last semester, she didn’t draw, paint, or sculpt it. She printed it—in three dimensions—using a machine that rendered her design from powdered bone.”

Medical: “Consider the work of Brandon Bowman, 28, a former blacksmith who is now studying at Washington. He is working with a hand surgeon to see if the technology can print body parts. Years ago Mr. Bowman lost the tip of a finger in a metal-shop accident. A friend told him to leave the wound alone and let the nub of flesh grow back on its own. It did, and he has been interested in regenerative medicine ever since.”

Paleontology: ’Kenneth Lacovara, a biologist at Drexel University uses the campus lab to print copies of dinosaur fossils, which he lets his students handle. “I can only have so many undergraduates in my lab, but I can give thousands of students the experience of what it’s like to hold a dinosaur bone and see the richness of detail contained in an ancient fossil,” says the associate professor. His students can’t go on the actual digs, but the printer has helped him replicate the experience.’

How far can 3D printing go?

University of Washington mechanical engineering professor Mark Ganter thinks that 3D printing will continue to proliferate.

“With 3-D printers, they’re either going to get to the ubiquity of Kinko’s, or lots of people are going to have them in their house,” he says.

Mr. Ganter sees 3D printing as a way to hook younger students on engineering fields. This year his class printed 8,000 edible cookies for an engineering open house for visiting junior-high and high-school students. They were more excited by the printed cookies than by anything else, he says.

The Washington professor’s students have also used the technology to print a device for NASA that, when sent into outer space, would store fuel in zero gravity. If institutions can develop early interest in engineering, and maintain sufficient access for kids to nurture this interest, he says, “soon we are going to try to figure out how to print on the moon.”


Read the full article at Chronicle of Higher Education.

Students 3D Printing photo by cogdogblog used under Creative Commons license.

NPR Interview: 3D Printing Without Limits, Body Parts, Sharing Culture

NPR Science Friday 3D Printing

NPR held a special radio feature on 3D printing during their Science Friday program. Ira Flatow interviewed industry consultant Terry Wohlers, MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis, and Cornell Associate Professor Hod Lipson.

What if you needed a new toothbrush and all you had to do was hit print? What if doctors could print out transplantable organs and pastry chefs turned to a printer, not a kitchen, for their next creation? Ira Flatow and a panel of guests discuss 3D printing technology, how far it’s come and what a 3D-printed-future could look like.

Topics ranged from basic background information to detailed questions. Read the highlights below and then listen to the full radio program.

What is 3D printing? What is the MakerBot?

Terry Wohlers and Bre Pettis gave a nice overview of what 3D printing is. Here is Bre’s explanation of what the MakerBot does.

The MakerBot replicator uses one of two plastics. You can either make things in ABS plastic, which is what LEGO is made out of, or you can use PLA, which is the plastic that’s made from corn. And then you get your plastic on spools, and it kind of looks like a big spool of spaghetti.

And the spaghetti goes into the machine, and it draws a picture in plastic, and then it goes up a little bit, and layer after layer, it creates your model, and you can really create anything.

All the tools for designing things are becoming democratized. So 3D printing is getting democratized, the tools that make things are getting easier. You can use things like Tinkercad, which is free and online, and you’re off to the races and making things.

Will everyone have a 3D printer?

Comparisons were made to inkjets and microwaves. When first introduced into the market, these products were expensive and unfamiliar, but now they are common home appliances.

Even if, in the future, everyone does not have a 3D printer in the home, the experts suggested that people will have access to a 3D printer and will buy parts manufactured locally by a nearby 3D printer.

Can body parts be 3D printed?

It will happen in our lifetime. We are already 3D printing a replacement knee meniscus and have prototyped bone and organs.

Are there any limits to 3D printing?

For the first time in human history, making something complex with details that cannot be manufacturing through traditional processes is as simple as making a paperweight.

Current consumer machines are limited in size. MakerBot can print objects up to the size of a loaf of bread. But there are professional printers that can make much larger objects.

Hod Lipson’s team has a goal to print a robot, batteries included, that can walk off the printer.

The experts agreed that 3D printing will let us think about new breakthroughs in product design.

Culture of Sharing

The 3D printing community is very collaborative and are building off of each other’s successes. This allows for continuous innovation through a culture of sharing.


Via NPR.

Science museum photo by chooyutshing used under Creative Commons license.