Educators see many benefits to using 3-D printers in the classroom, particularly for science, technology, engineering, art/design, and math courses. However, institutions have also discovered issues indealing with the devices.
Major concerns for schools are managing and controlling access to the printer, printing time and materials costs, and effectively incorporating 3-D printing into classes.
According to a November 2016 report card on the use of 3-D printing in the classroom, 60% of responding schools have 3-D printers available for students, but 87% restrict student access. The survey, conducted by office-solution provider Y Soft Corp., also gave institutions a poor grade for management of 3-D printers and a failing grade for controlling costs of the devices.
“We hear from schools that they buy 3-D printers, but often lock them up so students and users cannot access them because there is no way to manage access and costs associated with their use,” said Tim Green, research director for International Data Corp. “It defeats the purpose of the 3-D printer in education, which is meant to motivate student learning.”