When I was at school, a while ago now, the options for design and technology were very basic. It was pretty much, you do woodwork and make a pencil case or metalwork and make a screwdriver!
I go to Parents Evening now and see the electronics and vacuum formed stuff they do and wonder, what more could they do?
I know we hear, every day, that schools don’t have any money. Pupils have to buy their own books, and other financial tails of woe.
And then I heard that the government had stuck £500,000 to get 3D printing into schools. The more digging I did, it turned into £300,000 to get 60 printers into schools. I have to admit, I sat back horrified and a bit disgusted.
If you went to Makerbot (not recommended or endorsed in any way), which is one of the most expensive printers in this ‘class’, you would pay £2500 a printer. So 60 of these would, worst case, £150,000… Taking as much again in administration/fees. And looking at the company that won the contract, they are not using the Makerbots.
If you looked at Printrbot and the new Metal Simple. As accurate and, I have to say, probably more robust than the Makerbot, $599 – assembled. Okay, you pay VAT and Duty to bring them into the UK, so say they cost you £600 – you can have 4 for every Makerbot. 240 printers in schools instead of 60.
I believe that this is where the children of today need to be, working with 3D printers, to improve the design and technology part of their education to make sure that we can be innovative as a country, that we have the up and coming minds to produce some fantastic stuff.
So, where do we begin.
We need to make sure that every school is aware of this technology. I see people every single day that are amazed by 3D printing. They’ve never seen it before. They’d heard it on the TV – isn’t it something about making guns…. They need to understand two things.
Firstly, what the technology is all about. They don’t need to do an engineering degree, just to understand the principle. And secondly, they need to see what this technology is capable of. The medical work with organ replacement or bone replacement. Designs to save water, to generate electricity in 3rd world countries.
Once we have our head on straight and know where we’re going, we need to encourage schools to take this step. And that’s where it really begins. To install printers, to train staff how they work, to demonstrate the 3D printing workflow and to be there when they have problems.
This is my goal. It won’t be easy, but I’m not afraid of the work.
If you read this and want to see this happen, for your school, your kids school, your grandkids school, get in touch and lets see what we can do to make this happen.