Back to School: Bringing Assignments to Life with 3D Printers


3D printers are not just for hobbyists. They can also be used in schools, whether it’s for creative purposes in art classes or educational purposes in science classes. With the versatility of a 3D printer, teachers can offer students a different perspective into learning about their subjects.

Most people will think of arts and crafts when it comes to putting 3D printers in the classroom. Drawing 3D objects adds another layer for students to express their creativity. When it comes to 3D printing, you usually design in an app on the computer and then print it from a traditional 3D printer. That doesn’t sound very engaging, does it? Instead, you can invest in a 3D printing pen, like the 3Doodler Start, 3Doodler Create, or the XYZprinting da Vinci 3D Pen.

3Doodler Create 3D Printing Pen

Designed for children ages 8 and up, the 3Doodler Start does not have any hot parts. It uses bioplastic filament that doesn't leave any resin or glue. It is also battery powered so students aren't getting tangled up while they're drawing. The 3Doodler Start isn't limited to just arts and crafts. 3Doodler offers different sets so students can explore other subjects, such as product design, architecture, and robotics. For users who want a starter kit that isn’t as specific in its application, check out the Essentials and Super Mega pens sets. 3Doodler also offers half and full EDU bundles for classrooms.

3Doodler Start Architecture Pen Set

Geared towards students age 14 and up, the 3Doodler Create extrudes heated plastic that cools into a solid, stable structure. It has two temperature and speed settings so students can have more control over the pen. Like the 3Doodler Start, the 3Doodler Create is available in half and full EDU bundles. Packed with accessories, plastic refills, and teaching aids, the EDU bundles complement STEAM subjects, such as engineering, math, or design.

3Doodler Create EDU Bundle (Full)

XYZprinting’s da Vinci 3D Pen is geared towards aspiring engineers and tinkerers. It extrudes bio-compostable PLA plastic to draw in 3D, or repair and join existing PLA 3D prints. It is available as a standard bundle, or for classrooms, an education bundle, which includes tutorials, videos, templates, tools, drawing boards, and more.

XYZprinting da Vinci 3D Pen

For a more traditional 3D printer, the XYZprinting da Vinci miniMaker 3D Printer is education focused and kid safe. It features auto-calibration, auto-loading filament, and is aimed at those seeking to develop core STEM skills. While this printer does not offer a heated build plate, it only accepts PLA filament with minimal warping and curling. PLA filament is also non-toxic, making it a safe choice for the classroom. Its smaller build volume of 5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9" won’t print larger, more detailed 3D objects, but unlike 3D printing pens, you only need one in a classroom. The printer is compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux computers, and prints using wired USB connectivity.

XYZprinting da Vinci miniMaker 3D Printer

The XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0w 3D Printer is also well-suited for classrooms and is similar to the miniMaker, with some differences. The Jr. 1.0w features an integrated 2.6" LCD, a closed print bed, and ability to print using wired USB connectivity, SD cards up to 32GB, or Wi-Fi.

XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0w 3D Printer

If you want to challenge students a bit more, Leapfrog offers the Creatr XL, Bolt Pro, and XceL 3D printers, each of which can create larger prints and print using dual extruders, which can incorporate different-colored filaments into a print. For something more unique, Flashforge’s Inventor Dual Extrusion 3D Printer has two extruders that use 1.75mm ABS, PLA, soluble, flexible, and composite filaments to create prints with layers resolutions of up to 50 microns. And just in case you feel filament is so yesterday, try Flashforge’s Hunter DLP Resin 3D Printer, an advanced digital light processing (DLP) 3D printer that uses additive manufacturing technology and prints from an aluminum resin tray with pre-installed vat film.

Leapfrog Creatr XL Dual Extruder 3D Printer

It’s also worth noting that there are still a few options worth exploring for creating 3D-printed assignments, aside from 3D printers, pens, and CAD software. Many 3D printers, such as Flashforge’s Inventor Dual Extrusion, MakerBot’s Replicator Z18, and XYZprinting’s da Vinci 1.0 All-in-One and da Vinci 1.1 Plus, contain built-in cameras, while the da Vinci 1.0 Pro 3-in-1 features a 3D scanner. As an optional add-on, the Pro 3-in-1 can also be equipped with a laser engraver for etching on wood, leather, and cardboard. If you prefer stand-alone scanners, check out the Occipital Structure Sensor 3D Scanner, XYZprinting 3D Scanner Pro, or Afinia EinScan.

Afinia EinScan-SE (Elite) 3D Scanner with Turntable

There are several 3D printing options to include in the classroom, depending on the subject and age of your students. For a full list of 3D printers, accessories, and more, please click here. Have you used 3D printers in the classroom? Add your suggestions in the Comments section, below.