What is 3D Printing?


Known in industrial circles as rapid prototyping, 3D printing refers to technologies that construct physical objects from three-dimensional (3D) digital content such as 3D modeling software, computer-aided design (CAD) tools, computer-aided tomography (CAT), and X-ray crystallography. A 3D printer builds a tangible model or prototype from the electronic file, one layer at a time, through an extrusion-like process using plastics and other flexible materials, or an inkjet-like process to spray a bonding agent onto a very thin layer of fixable powder. The deposits created by the machine can be applied very accurately to build an object from the bottom up, layer by layer, with resolutions that, even in the least expensive machines, are more than sufficient to express a large amount of detail. The process even accommodates moving parts within the object. Using different materials and bonding agents, color can be applied, and parts can be rendered in plastic, resin, or metal. This technology is commonly used in manufacturing to build prototypes of almost any object (scaled to fit the printer, of course) that can be conveyed in three dimensions.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • As with many of these technologies, the focus will be on teaching Extension Agents how to use the Tech. Rapid prototyping to solve on the ground issues will open up many options for Agents in their daily A&R work. - dgeller dgeller May 3, 2016
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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Open availability, through a makerspace or something similar, can lead to local economic development and an invitation for innovation.- amy.dronberger amy.dronberger Jun 1, 2016
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • This technology will open the door for engineering type solutions in many disciplines in the Agricultural Sciences. - dgeller dgeller May 3, 2016
  • 3D printers can increase the excitement for STEM and produce a tangible end product. - amy.dronberger amy.dronberger Jun 1, 2016

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • - jeff.hino jeff.hino Jun 4, 2016We have been experimenting with the use of 3-D printing as a means of developing learning objects. One example is the 3-D printing of a model of a fungus called Monlina vaccine-corymbosi that can infect blueberry fruit with a disease called mummy berry. An OSU Extension horticulture agent uses the model to assist blueberry farmers in identifying and treating the disease.
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