The Art of 3D Printing

Melissa St Amant, Communications Officer
3D printing is a great way to promote active learning; it also gives students the advantage of being able to use physical objects when learning about different subjects. Greenwood’s Classical Civilizations class used printed models of colonial buildings to get a sense of architectural design. Biology, Anatomy and Exercise Science classes printed a human skull and frogs for dissection. Our Dungeons and Dragons Club uses printed characters in their gameplay. And, recently, one very unique idea stemmed from Ms. Petch’s Grade 7 Art class.

Ms. Petch’s Grade 7 Art students had the opportunity to work with Mr. Farbstein using our new makerspace for one of their class projects. The students were tasked with finding a picture of a painting they liked and then replicating it themselves on canvas. Rather than painting the entire picture, they chose one element from the painting to print in 3D.

Grade 7 student Jordyn Tannenbaum, found a scenic painting and decided she wanted to design a tree using the 3D printer. Jordyn learned quickly that the process of designing and building an object can take a lot of hours and a whole lot of patience!

Once Jordyn found a design she liked, Mr. Farbstein showed her how to scale it into a design software called Tinkercad. Jordyn used her canvas to measure the dimensions of her tree and then entered those numbers into Tinkercad so the printer could build to her specifications. After scaling her tree, she checked how long it would take to print and the software told her 47 hours! The students in the class were shocked, but fortunately Mr. Farbstein knew an easy trick and showed Jordyn how to angle her model to speed up the process.

Jordyn made sure she had the correct colour of plastic loaded into the printer and then sent over her data so it could begin to work its magic. The students were fascinated by the process and couldn’t wait to see the finished product. However, the approximate time for the printer to fully develop the tree took 19 hours!

On top of that, because the tree branches were very delicate, the printer had to coat the outer base with a white plastic to keep everything intact while it was being built. The white plastic is water soluble, so when the printing is done the object is submerged into water until it fully dissolves. This process took an additional 24 hours, meaning the entire project took around two full days to develop! For Jordyn, it was worth the wait and she was happy that her tree turned out just as she hoped it would.

Even though the process of designing and building models can take some time, it’s a great way for students to learn how to use new technology that is becoming more prevalent in today’s world. Teachers are continuing to think of innovative ways to include 3D printing in their classes and they love being able to give students a very hands-on learning experience.

Check out our photos below to see some of the amazing designs that have already been made - and, of course, Jordyn's beautiful red tree!
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Greenwood College School

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