So you just discovered that your friendly neighborhood faculty support center (i.e. the Exchange) has a 3D printer. What are you gonna do about it? Good question. How could 3D printing help your content come to life?
Option 1: Print an existing model with which students could engage
The MakerBot Thingiverse has a library of literally (and I’m using this term in the original sense of ‘literally’) thousands of printable objects that are available for free. Quite a few of them could be used to great effect in an educational environment as an object for students to engage with. But Thingiverse isn’t the only game in town for 3D Printable objects. Check out these other warehouses:
Option 2: Capture something in your environment
Do you have an iOS device? 123D Catch can turn a series of photos into a 3D model in literally an instant (okay, this time I’m using ‘literally’ in the virtually sense. It’s perfectly fine. It is in the dictionary.). Just download the app and get started. If you don’t have an iOS device, you can take photos with any camera and upload them to the web app. Then clean up your files so that they are ready for printing.
You could capture a statue, a person, a vegetable. You could capture anything, but it is definitely easiest if the thing you capture holds still.
Option 3: Build something from scratch using free software
A free 3D design tool from AutoDesk
A simple 3D design desktop tool. The Exchange offers classes on Sketchup, so if you want some in-person support on 3D design, sign up!
Build printable objects in a web-based editor using simple shape objects
Option 4: Ask your students to design something
The MakerBot Replicator at the Exchange is for faculty use only. However, if your students designed a magnificent creation that you would like to print, do it! Consider having student design teams compete for the prize of having their digital 3D creation printed for all to behold.