Tag Archives: NYTimes

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 Gun Debate Heats Up Again: Wiki Weapon and ATF

Cody Wilson Wiki Weapon 3D Printing

Can 3D printers be used to create guns? We first discussed a hobbyist who was 3D printing automatic weapon parts in July and again covered the topic of using 3D printing for dangerous goods in August.

Now, the New York Times’ Bits Blog is adding to the controversy with its own feature about “building a gun with the push of a button.”

Cody Wilson, a law student at the University of Texas, is in the process of building a completely functional printed gun. “We hope to have this fully tested and put the files online in the next couple of months,” said Mr. Wilson, who runs a Web site called Defense Distributed.

He calls the gun the Wiki Weapon. In a video explaining the project’s goals, he describes the Wiki Weapon as the world’s first “3-D printable personal defense system.”

Below is a video of Cody Wilson promoting his Wiki Weapon.

Will this really make an impact given that there are so many guns in circulation each year via loopholes or illegal transfer? Perhaps not.

“Forty percent of guns are sold through a loophole at gun shows, where people are already able to buy a firearm without having to go through a background check,” said Daniel Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “There’s already a permanent ‘gun show’ on the Internet.”

One interesting angle not raised before is the role of law enforcement and regulation in this overall debate.

Under most circumstances, it is not illegal to build your own gun, but it has been pretty difficult. Ginger Colbrun, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said people had made firearms out of pens, books and belt buckles. But those contraptions and conventional firearms require a certain amount of knowledge and skill.

Ms. Colbrun said the agency was keeping a close watch on 3-D printers. “A.T.F. always tries to stay ahead of the illegal activity and the novel firearms trafficking schemes, without impinging on individuals’ rights,” she said.

In the case of Wiki Weapon, the 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys stepped in before law enforcement needed to and seized the 3D printer back before Wilson could print his first gun, saying “It is the policy of Stratasys not to knowingly allow its printers to be used for illegal purposes.” (via Guardian)