The advantages to using 3D scanning to design models for 3D Printing Over recent years, 3D scanning technology has made its way into education. Starting at Higher and Further education, it has now developed to be affordable enough for Secondary and Primary schools to integrate it into their STEAM curriculum, creating a hands-on practical […]
The advantages to using 3D scanning to design models for 3D Printing
Over recent years, 3D scanning technology has made its way into education. Starting at Higher and Further education, it has now developed to be affordable enough for Secondary and Primary schools to integrate it into their STEAM curriculum, creating a hands-on practical way to deliver the curriculum. As well as the affordability of 3D scanners developing, the quality of the product has also significantly increased, meaning that they are a perfect complementary technology to 3D printing in the classroom.
3D printing technology means that students can develop and create products that are of a high-quality, often with complex geometric shapes. These products would often be difficult, if not impossible to machine traditionally. But, 3D printing does mean that students need to master 3D design software. This can sometimes prove difficult, as the mathematical knowledge and skills needed have to be practised and built up over time as a separate skill set.
With 3D scanners, students can work in more manageable materials, such as clay or balsa wood. Once the models are made, students can then scan them to create a 3D file which gives them a base to work from to refine and develop using 3D modelling software.
Five ways to use 3D scanning in the Secondary Curriculum
- Creating ergonomically designed items in Design Technology lessons
By their very nature, ergonomic designs are complex and difficult to model using 3D modelling software, so using a 3D scanner to start to develop ergonomic designs is perfect. Using clay to perfectly fit the shape to the end-users’ requirements is much easier to get students going. Scanning these shapes and then further developing them using 3D modelling software to add geometric features to the surface, such as holes or buttons or joining them onto existing product designs is much more manageable as a process.
Ergonomic design projects can come in many forms, such as:
- Ergonomic handles,
- Games controllers.
- Custom Bicycle Handlebar Grip Lesson.
- Scan waste products and use for upcycling projects in Product design lessons
Used alongside 3D printing, 3D scanning can be useful to include in upcycling projects! Through the identification of waste products or unwanted items, students can use the 3d scanner to repurpose them through remodelling or fitting them into existing designs to create a new purpose.
The advantage of using a 3D scanner to do this is that students can easily combine existing projects or items to create new hybrid products which can be developed to solve new problems.
- 3D printed sculptures in Art and Design
There are an infinite number of uses for 3D scanners when you pair it up with clay sculpting.
Natural, organic objects can be 3D scanned and combined with other objects or designs or manipulated to create beautiful, intricate art pieces.
Sculptures which have been made in clay or other materials can be scanned and 3D printed meaning that multiples of an item can be recreated quickly and cheaply. Students can also play around with scale and colour easily to produce different effects or prototypes, creating usable, tangible products such as vases or lampshades.
Some great examples of natural or organic art pieces that can inspire your students can be found on Thingiverse, such as
- Geography can use 3D scanning to create models of geographical features and landforms
Geographical features, such as drumlins, arêtes, and corries are often studied through 2d photographs. Using 3D scanning, alongside 3D printing provides opportunities for the creation of 3D models to study, handle and discuss in more detail.
Using the 2D photographs, students can create clay models of geographical features, scan them into the 3D modelling software and print them. Students could even work on the designs to show changes to the features, such as the effects of erosion, printing a series of designs to illustrate their learning which can then be used as learning aids for future classes.
- 3D printed scans can be used to bring Biology, History, and Geography to life
If access to a 3D scanner is limited, you can still benefit from 3D scans that are available online and you can find a whole range of 3D medical scans to aid biology teaching.
A good source for these files is the Embodi3D Website which hosts a number of 3D scans of skulls, bones, muscular structures, and organs. Lots of the scans are free to download and are ready to slice and print.
Other free 3D scans that are available to use are:
- MyMiniFactory Scan The World – The Open Source Museum – For 3D scans of buildings, landmarks, and historical artefacts from around the world.
- Smithsonian 3D – Scans from many of the Smithsonian museums and collections.
CPD – Getting started with 3D Scanning in Secondary schools
PrintLab has a well-stocked library of 3D scanning projects, some of which do not need a 3D scanner. For example:
- Surrealist Structures
- Digitising Nature
- Reverse Engineering
- Organic Homeware
- Ergonomic Pens
- Making Classroom Objects
All of these projects, and more are available within their PrintLab Classroom Subscription.
The CREATE Education Project also loans 3D scanners to schools. The highly popular Loan Scheme allows you to try a 3D scanner for half a term, giving you an opportunity to run a class project, see how straightforward the scanners and software are.
The CREATE Education Project also stocks a wide range of 3D scanners – from entry-level desktop scanners to HD Handheld scanners. You can find their range of 3D scanners here or contact Jo at [email protected] to find out more.