3D Printing Revolution (2 June 2015)


The New Industrial Revolution Goes Back to School: 3D printing in Education

With the recent disclosure that the Airbus A350 XWB aircraft uses more than 1000 3D printed flight parts, 3D printing technology has truly come of age, is no longer a hobbyist fad and enters the new industrial revolution with gusto.

The promise that 3D printing will change our lives in areas is coming to fruition with applications as a new digital manufacturing technology with uses in every industry; it is possible to design, build and test 3D structures that are un-makeable by any other technique.

However, with a current huge shortfall in recruits into engineering and a deeper decline in recruitment into Design and Technology who is going to become the Engineer 2.0 to create the future using this technology? And how will we encourage the creative spark needed?

Our speaker, Iain Major, argues that it’s time for a new approach to unleashing the creativity needed to realise the potential of this disruptive digital technology; it needs to happen early – in fact very early – in the education system and an early introduction to 3D printing technology can be the flint to help create the spark.

Iain will describe some of the technologies that fall under the umbrella of 3D printing, how they are revolutionising manufacturing and why it is imperative that schools keep up with changes in technology, particularly the creative digital technologies such as 3D printing.

Our speaker: Ian Major

Iain started his professional life as a secondary school teacher in the UK teaching Science – Chemistry is his first degree – to students between the ages of 11 and 18. After 13 years, having reached the position of Assistant Headteacher, Iain changed career; he completed an MSc in Computer Science at Bristol University and became a software writer.

A few years later Iain established ‘Bits From Bytes’ with a friend and colleague; this was the first company to commercialise the ‘RepRap’ 3D printer project and to sell complete kits of parts to build a basic 3D Printer.

‘Bits From Bytes’ was acquired by 3D Systems in 2010 and Iain worked in various roles within the business including UK Education Co-ordinator until late 2014.

Iain is now CEO of We Invent Ltd, who establish and equip creative out-of-school clubs with innovative technology – such as 3D printers and related equipment – through their ‘You Invent’ platform at no overall cost to the school and using a crowdsourcing platform to raise funds for the schools to use to invest in this new technology.

Having recently led a one day seminar on the state of 3D printing in UK education at the London Fablab with partners the Design and Technology Association and the Royal Society of Arts (with support from the Department for Education) Iain is well placed to comment on how schools are shaping up to cope with this new technology and create the engineers of the future we so desperately need.