September 30, 2021
Best 3D Printers For Schools

Best 3D Printers For Schools

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3D printers are changing how students learn, giving room for more creativity and learning through playful activities. This is certainly the right path for schools, especially in teaching design, modeling, and STEM – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

This article reviews some of the very best 3D printers for schools. You will find various models suitable for different educational levels, whether you’re on the hunt for the most ideal printer for an elementary school, high school, college, or for research purposes.

But first, let’s kick off with a few things to look for when buying an educational 3D printer.

What Qualifies as a Good Educational 3D Printer?

Any 3D printer can produce workpieces, but not all of them are ideal for the classroom environment. Schools looking to purchase these devices should consider the following factors.

Ease of Use

Simplicity is by far the single, most important factor to think about when choosing a 3D printer, especially for school-age children. If younger students have to jump through hoops just to operate the machine, they might lose interest in learning.

It is okay to provide complex 3D printers for advanced students (for example, those studying engineering), but younger students will be more comfortable and safer with simpler machines.

Reliability

Attempting to fix a 3D printer that breaks down mid-class is perhaps the worst thing any teacher will have to deal with during practical sessions. For this reason, schools must invest in educational printers known to work consistently with minimal issues.

In other words, budget models are probably not the best options to provide for educational purposes, especially in the classroom. While cheap 3D printers can produce surprisingly excellent output, they are more suitable for home and personal use.

An educational 3D printer that won’t disappoint is typically expensive but worth it. Both students and teachers will enjoy the practical class with these 3D print options.

Educational Resources

3D printers without educational resources are basically the same as any other printer, regardless of their ease of use and reliability. The learning tools that come with the machine are what distinguishes them from models meant for personal and home use.

Look for 3D printers with interactive exercises, class projects, or lesson plans. These educational tools are tailored for different age groups and will help with STEM education.

3D Printing Technology

3D printers are generally categorized into two broad groups based on their printing technology. The Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printers and the Stereolithography Apparatus (SLA) models.

While both have their pros and cons, the FDM is the most suitable classroom environment option. This is particularly true because these models use filaments for printing (instead of resin), meaning there are fewer emissions and odor during printing.

The resin used in SLA 3D printers can be very smelly and uncomfortable to deal with in the classroom. Besides, the material is quite expensive, making it ideal for producing high-quality models (not trial and error printing).

On the other hand, filaments are cheap and ideal for producing low-cost models in large quantities.

7 of the Best 3D Printers for Schools

3D printers are still evolving, and the near future will likely see models that make the current versions look very archaic. But while we await the industry to hit maturity, we can still boast of some impressive technologies on the offering.

Here are some of the top-rated options currently on the market.

MakerBot SKETCH 3D Printer

makerbot sketch 3d printer isolated on white background

MakerBot is a force to reckon with when it comes to educational 3D printers. The brand’s latest offering, the Sketch, is engineered as a printing solution with schools in mind, offering opportunities for creativity and certification programs for both students and teachers.

The product comes with over 600 free lesson plans to maximize student engagement, making it one of the best 3D printers for schools and STEM programs. Considering the machine is designed for classroom use, it features safety measures for students in a learning environment. The Sketch has a fully enclosed chamber and integrated particulate filters for additional protection.

Users can easily access and manage projects on the printing queue via a cloud-based file management dashboard. Plus, the device is accessible wirelessly and integrates seamlessly with Fusion 360 3D CAD Software and TinkerCAD for increased flexibility and greater printing options.

The product comes complete with three classroom-safe PLA filament spools, two build plates, and one replacement nozzle to get you started immediately.

Specs & Features

  • Technology: FDM
  • Build Volume: 150 x 150 x 150 mm
  • Suitability: College, high school, and elementary school
  • Educational Resources: Over 600 lesson plans
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, USB, Ethernet

Dremel DigiLab 3D45

dremel digiLab 3d45 3d printer with full accessories

The DigiLab 3D45 is an award-winning 3D printer from Dremel that comes complete with 30 lesson plans that educators can implement right away in their classrooms.

There is very minimal effort required with this machine, thanks to a large full-color touchscreen interface together with a hassle-free Wi-Fi function. You can even view the print progress remotely using the built-in HD camera.

Connectivity is pretty straightforward, and the machine is compatible with many of the common devices available, including iPad, PC, Mac, and Chromebook.

The DigiLab 3D45 features an automatic bed-leveling function and automatic filament detection. In addition to its ability to adjust print settings, the safety of the class environment is guaranteed during the printing process with the carbon air filter feature that traps any harsh compounds given off during printing.

Beyond teaching students to solve open-ended problems by designing their prototypes and models, instructors can also participate in Dremel’s online self-paced training and get certified in 3D design, printing, and hardware.

Specs & Features

  • Technology: FDM
  • Build Volume: 255 x 153 x 170 mm
  • Suitability: College, high school, and elementary school
  • Educational Resources: 30 lesson plans
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, USB, Ethernet

Robo E3 Educational 3D Printer

robo e3 educational 3d printer isolated on white background

Educators looking for a good alternative to Sketch may want to consider the Robo E3, a 3D printer with the same build volume as MakerBot’s offering. The machine might not be as expensive as Sketch, but it does have a lot to offer, particularly for elementary and high school students.

Robo 3D is an American brand with a keen interest in pushing the boundaries of classroom 3D printing. This it has set out to do with the recent purchase of MyStemKits, a STEM-focused startup, and integrating a wide range of educational resources in every of their machine.

Robo E3 is not only easy to use; it is highly reliable as well. It features a bunch of educational programs targeting different school-age groups. This is in addition to more than 20 design challenges that inspire students to get creative and let their imaginations run wild. The 3D printer also features two hours of US standard lessons for students.

Specs & Features

  • Technology: FDM
  • Build Volume: 150 x 150 x 150 mm
  • Suitability: High school, elementary school
  • Educational Resources: Over 20 design challenges plus standards-aligned lessons
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi

MakerBot Replicator+

makerbot replicator+ 3d printer

The Replicator+ is yet another amazing 3D printer from MakerBot, particularly suitable for the classroom environment. Like the brand’s other educational printers, this is built with safety and simplicity in mind.

First off, the removable print bed is unheated, making it safe for students to scrap out finished 3D objects. Also, students who would like to view the print progress remotely can do so over a Wi-Fi connection using the printer’s integrated camera.

Students can also choose and send designs to the printer via the Thingiverse 3D model file repository. Plus, users can control the device using the MakerBot Print app together with the brand’s My Makerbot browser.

In a nutshell, this machine is a simplified way to gain access to MakerBot’s vast range of educational resources for students and educators.

Specs & Features

  • Technology: FDM
  • Build Volume: 295 x 195 x 165 mm
  • Suitability: High school, college, research
  • Educational Resources: MakerBot educators program, MakerBot educators guidebook
  • Connectivity: USB cable, USB stick, Ethernet, Wi-Fi

Ultimaker S3

ultimaker s3 3d printer isolated on white background

Although on the pricier side, any experienced maker would be quick to agree that the Ultimaker S3 is without a doubt one of the best 3D printers for schools, delivering outstanding quality and offering impressive flexibility. This is the 3D printer to choose if reliability in the classroom is the paramount consideration.

The desktop 3D printer features dual extrusion capability supports several print materials. It also supports water solubility, allowing for complex geometry and ultra-smooth surfaces.

In addition to several Ultimaker core lessons plus management tips and tricks, students get to learn the basics of 3D printer operation and maintenance. Educators can also access an incredibly rich online resource.

Specs & Features

  • Technology: FDM
  • Build Volume: 210 x 210 x 205 mm
  • Suitability: High school, college, research
  • Educational Resources: Lots of guided lesson plans, classroom management tips, Ultimaker curriculum core lessons
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, USB drive, Ethernet

Sculpto Pro 2

sculpto pro 2 3d printer isolated on white background

Most 3D printers are noisy devices, capable of causing considerable distractions and even disrupt lessons. But you don’t have to pause your teaching just because a printer is producing a model for the class. With the Sculpto Pro 2, your students won’t have to strain too hard to hear you, thanks to its 45-decibel rating (as quiet as most modern refrigerators).

While it supports USB, the compact and portable 3D printer removes the need for transferring projects through wires and USBs. Instead, users can print directly from tablets, PCs, and phones via Wi-Fi connectivity. The Sculpto app controls the printer and gives access to over 100,000 different 3D models.

Students can also take their creativity to the next level and even challenge and inspire each other by uploading their own designs and sharing them with friends and classmates.

Another huge plus with the Sculpto Pro 2 is its incredibly affordable price. A highly expensive printer might have all the bells and whistles but may not be the best choice for a small classroom. Educators searching for a small educational 3D printer for a handful of students will find this option very cost-effective.

Specs & Features

  • Technology: FDM
  • Build Volume: 200 x 200 mm
  • Suitability: High school, elementary school
  • Educational Resources: Over 100,000 free design projects
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, USB

Tiertime UP Mini 2 ES

tiertime up mini 2 es

Okay, here’s one 3D printer that does not come with any education-specific resource but is included on this list because of its sheer simplicity and impressive safety features, making it a great choice for the classroom environment.

The reasonably priced Tiertime UP Mini 2 ES checks many boxes (besides learning tools), including a fully enclosed chamber, support for a wide range of third-party filaments, an outstanding air filtration system, multiple connectivity options, and most importantly, a straightforward setup.

Apart from delivering quality results, the fuss-free and easy-to-operate machine can be put to work even in classrooms or labs with little ventilation due to its high-quality HEPA and activated carbon filtration system.

There is little to no effort required on the part of the user. Simply set it up and let your students enjoy churning out model after model from different supported devices, including iPad, iPhone, and iOS.

Specs & Features

  • Technology: FDM
  • Build Volume: 120 x 120 x 120 mm
  • Suitability: High school, elementary school
  • Educational Resources: None
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Ethernet, USB

Conclusion

The world is changing rapidly, and education must keep up with the pace. Schools must adopt innovative teaching techniques to allow students to learn better. One such method is through the use of 3D printers, especially for science and technology-related classes.

You can improve student’s engagement and increase interactivity with any of the best 3D printers for schools mentioned on this list. Hopefully, you have found a model that works for your classroom. But even if you can’t find something particularly suitable for your needs, always remember to look for 3D printers that qualify as educational tools when buying one for your students.