Eduporium Weekly | 5 3D Printers Poised to Shake Up Education
If you spent the summer remodeling your school’s computer lab, making it shine, and replacing some of the outdated machines with less outdated machines, then that’s great! We’re sorry, though. You may have wasted your time. At a somewhat surprising rate, schools are ditching the traditional computer labs and replacing them with innovation hubs known as 3D printer labs. Kids get the added STEM experience and the school spends a lot more money. Not so fast. We’ve got five top-of-the-line and, most importantly, affordable 3D printers you should stick in your school this year.
1. MOD-t 3D Printer
We’ll start off simple with perhaps the easiest to use and definitely the most affordable 3D printer on the market. When it comes to 3D printers suitable for use in the classroom, educators can usually find some decent options that are the right size for kids or affordable for their school’s budget. So, when one comes along that’s the perfect combination of child-friendly and price-friendly, it’s kind of hard not to notice. That’s exactly the case with New Matter’s new MOD-t 3D printer, a powerful, quiet, and favorably priced printer that delivers real results. Whether it’s intended for use in homes or classrooms, MOD-t is definitely one of the best bets, especially for kids or adults who are new to the 3D printing world. Packaged in a compact case, MOD-t makes 3D printing accessible to everyone, further ensuring that students have the chance to engage in a true 21st century learning experience.
At just $399, the MOD-t is one of the more affordable options on the market and does not sacrifice performance for this low price. So, if you’re buying a few of them for a 3D printer lab, this is the place to start. Its power and precision are second to none as the MOD-t is able to print highly detailed sculptures in a wide variety of colors – something you don’t always get from a lot of 3D printers. Since it is a smaller 3D printer, most of the objects created with the MOD-t are smaller in size and a lot of them can even fit in the palms of kids’ hands. What it lacks in size, however, it makes up in detail. In just the short time we have had a MOD-t in our office, we have printed a couple dozen tools and trinkets and each one seems to be more impressive than the last! The other good thing about the MOD-t’s small size is that the prints don’t take too long to complete. Students are able to be exposed to the 3D printing experience but do not have to wait hours for their projects to be complete as most prints are done in less than two hours!
Since it is so easy to use and control, MOD-t is very useful for first-time 3D printers, especially in a classroom setting. Using this desktop device, students are able to enjoy an end-to-end and fully integrated 3D printing experience. It’s sleek and elegant, but also flashy and simple, able to print objects of many different sizes. Most importantly, the MOD-t is incredibly reliable. It is made to last and seldom breaks down or needs repairs – perfect for STEM students who like to continue making constantly! Like the XYZ miniMaker, the MOD-t is also a viable option in the early grades. Kids as young as second or third grade can start learning how to 3D print with help from their teachers and engage in some valuable collaborative group work at the same time! If you’re looking to try 3D printing in the classroom this year or next, the MOD-t is definitely a printer you should consider.
It’s written in all capital letters, so it must be pretty powerful. FLASHFORGE has created its own line of classroom-friendly 3D printers with age-appropriate and affordable models for the whole school. Well, the whole middle school. Their most basic model, the FLASHFORGE Finder, is smaller than their others and designed for kids in fifth or sixth grade. It’s easy to use and still boasts a number of impressive attributes. Students can use either PLA or PVA filaments with the Finder, all of which can also be found in the Eduporium store. One spool of filament even comes in the box along with a USB cable, tool kits, and a 2GB SD card. It’s also the cheapest FLASHFORGE model we have, coming in at just $499.00!
The next model up is the New Creator Pro. This dual extrusion 3D printer provides students with the perfect 3D printing experience and offers a huge amount of student-friendly usability. It features enhanced design metrics and new enclosure to make it more suitable for classrooms and makerspaces. The Creator Pro prints with ABS filament and delivers a unique digital fabrication experience that’s more efficient than ever! With design features that eliminate flaws and maximize potential, this sturdy system serves as a stepping stone for students interested in additive manufacturing. And its sleek design promotes ingenuity in students and propels project-based printing forward, making the Creator Pro a hotbed for heavy invention! It’s heavy-duty, heat-resistant, and ready to transform learning in classrooms and makerspaces with simple software and results that speak for themselves!
As the projects get more complex and impressive, the final two FLASHFORGE models in our store can help students in high school accomplish more than ever with 3D printing. The Dreamer ($1,099.00) and Inventor ($1,249.00) are each larger 3D printers, but remain incredibly easy to operate. They’re each completely enclosed, ensuring that student safety is never compromised and can also work with Mac, Windows, and Linux systems as well. The Inventor is the result of open-source technology and one of the most capable printers available at this price point. And, like all of their printers, it uses FLASHFORGE’s Flashprint software to help make designing and uploading a piece of cake! Check out all of our FLASHFORGE products by clicking here.
Dremel runs along the same lines as the FLASHFORGE models, but focuses more on bundling other things that students may need in order to innovate to their fullest potential. We’ve also literally JUST added our Dremel printers to our store, so you are one of the first ones to be hearing about them. Seriously, they’ve only been there for a couple of weeks. There are three main models we would recommend to teachers without hesitation, all of which have different prices and different capabilities. Of course, the prices of each of them can be reduced if you sign up for an Educator Discount account. It’s free and takes, like, 14 seconds to do. Anyway, the three of them are the Core Unit ($1,299.00), Education Bundle ($1,599.00), and STEM Bundle ($1,899.00).
Of course, if you go to our site and type Dremel into the search bar, you can find each of these models. You’ll also see a fourth option for the Dremel and littleBits bundle - an exciting option for teachers who want to try both 3D printing and coding in their classroom! Let’s start with the Core Unit. This is the most basic Dremel model, but still features all the bells and whistles you would expect from an Eduporium-backed 3D printer, including a guided leveling unit, Wi-Fi functionality, advanced motion control, a removable building platform, and an enhanced cooling system. It even includes cloud-based software and a clog-resistant extruder to protect from failed builds. Most importantly, everything runs smoothly, quickly, and requires almost no physical installation from students or teachers before they’re ready to use it.
Moving on up, the Education Bundle is designed for - you guessed it - education. It includes many of the same features as the Core Unit and is essentially the same printer only it comes with an additional flash drive. This flash drive includes pre-loaded projects with 10 ready-made, curriculum-based files that guide kids towards meaningful building. It’s completely safe as well and even comes with a 1-year industry warranty to alleviate concerns about wear and tear from too much student use. The STEM Bundle includes pre-loaded projects as well plus a subscription to mySTEMKit, Dremel’s educational 3D printing program. Besides that, you’ll get access to innovative professional development, easy-to-use education software, and touch panel screen display. We wish we would have gotten Dremel on our store earlier, to be honest, and we assume you can see why that is.
This list keeps getting better. The next one up is also fairly new to our store, but one we could definitely see it being used to further classroom or makerspace learning. We’re talking about Lulzbot, which has had its share of notoriety for some of the things people have done with their printers recently. They have two different versions, which is a regularity when it comes to 3D printers, and theirs include a mini model and a full-sized one. They each have some pretty impressive industrial capabilities and could be used for manufacturing various objects, but they work great in schools, too. The mini model is especially applicable for school use since its smaller size makes it conducive for tabletop usage and storage. It’s still very much so a high-performance printer and can help kids explore all aspects of STEM learning, including engineering, design, and collaboration.
The mini is a fine piece of open-source hardware and engineered specifically to be easy for students to use. It’s extremely flexible, enabling kids to create designs in a number of different ways and has its own high levels of accuracy and speed. When it comes to 3D printers, we constantly advocate for those with the high levels of both accuracy and speed. Low cost is one thing, but we’ve seen schools find it worth spending a little more to ensure their students have printers that combine these two important features. Both the mini model and the TAZ 6 - the larger model - use free software and open-source hardware so users are always able to adopt the latest 3D printing technology into their designs. The best part is they ship fully assembled and calibrated, so students can start printing minutes after opening the box!
The TAZ 6 model is more advanced than the mini and includes some pretty impressive features of its own. It’s both self-levelling and self-cleaning and includes a flexible tool head and integrated power supply as well. It also has free software and open-source hardware to go along with one of the highest print volumes in its class. Students can design and produce larger prints than ever or even try printing a number of smaller objects at once as Lulzbot gives them more 3D printing freedom than ever before! And, of course, what’s a 3D printer without the filaments? You probably assumed, if you’re reading this far, that we have all the Lulzbot filaments you’ll need and you’d be right. Just search for Lulzbot on our site and you’ll find all you need in one convenient place!
Of all the printers on our little Back to School recommendations list a.k.a. this blog post, the ones we’ve been aware of for the longest are the ones from XYZ. They have over 10 high-quality printers designed for use in the classroom, makerspace, library, or wherever you’d like to set them up. Essentially what their large volume of printers means for teachers is that there’s something for just about everyone. They have larger models for the older students to print out more advanced designs and simpler models for students in middle and elementary school. XYZ has even released its MiniMaker model, which is designed to appeal to the youngest students and spark an interest in 3D printing from their early days of school! They’re the real deal and come in at pretty affordable prices as well.
The best part is that almost all of the XYZ models on our store are well under $1,000 with a handful of them coming in under $500. In fact, the MiniMaker is only $250 and the Mini da Vinci is just $290. That’s a whole lot of value packed into a tiny printer. Of course, these are for young kids in the early grades, but XYZ’s next tier of printers are just as affordable. None of their da Vinci models are more than $580 and you’ll know you’re getting a very reliable machine complete with some of the latest features and completely simple software for students to get started with printing. We have a da Vinci in our office and, to be honest, we’ve lost count of how many useful objects have been printed!
Now, would any of our printer sections be complete without the mention of the filaments also being on our store? Of course not. And, yes, we have all the different XYZ colors, including both PLA and ABS options depending on the printer you have. XYZ even has a 3D printing pen and a 3D handheld scanner, which both offer a lot of versatility for creating maker projects in the classroom. Even one of their da Vinci models is a two-in-one 3D printer and scanner, allowing students to upload images to use in creating their prints. Whichever XYZ product or products you use in the classroom, you’re guaranteed to help revolutinoize readiness through real-world projects and experiences. To get XYZ printers or any of the others we mentioned, visit the Eduporium store!
For the latest EdTech, STEM and 21st century education news, follow Eduporium on Twitter and Instagram, like us on Facebook or sign up for our newsletter for announcements on the best EdTech deals around! Have an idea for the next Eduporium Weekly theme? Send us a message on any of our social media accounts!
Image: © XYZprinting