5 Ways 3D Scanning and Printing are Changing Arts Education

by Matter & Form on July 24, 2019

Technology is changing the way students learn in every single classroom. This change is even happening in unexpected places, such as art classrooms. And while there’s still plenty of room for the traditional tools like canvases, pastels and paints, newer tools like 3D technology, computers and software programs have the potential to enhance these creative environments like never before.

3D printing lets students materialize their ideas and produce complex, functional shapes by making solid 3D objects from a digital file.1 A 3D scanner scans small-to-medium-sized objects and creates 3D models in custom computer software. These digital models can be manipulated for artistic design, measurement or 3D printing. With a 3D scanner, students can scan real-life objects, alter their measurements on a digital platform and reprint the altered version using a 3D printer.

Here are six ways that 3D printers and scanners are changing what the traditional art classroom looks like:

1. They Are Able to Take Art Off of the Page

Gone are the days when students could only print on traditional two-dimensional paper. 3D technology has advanced to the point where it can literally take art off the page and into the real world. More specifically, 3D scanning expands any student’s artistic possibilities by removing the physical limitations that come with making things by hand, opening new worlds of detail and exploration.

For instance, the use of 3D printing in the fashion industry has been increasing in recent years. During the creative process, for prototyping or even for production, additive manufacturing gives fashion a wide range of possibilities and fascinates certain designers.2

2. They Integrate Technology Into Art

The term “starving artist” is no longer an accurate reflection of the current job prospects in the creative sphere. There are numerous practical and in-demand careers in the tech industry for those with a visual and artistic skill set. Students who are leaning towards these types of disciplines can look forward to the following potential career paths:

  • Art Director
  • Game Designer
  • Multimedia Artist / Animator
  • Product / Packaging Designer
  • UX / UI Designer
  • Mobile Designer
  • Web Designer
  • Augmented Reality Designer
  • Visual Designer
  • Motion Graphic Designer
  • Illustrator 3

In order to best equip arts students to dream big for these jobs, they need to be provided with the correct high-tech resources in order to gain experience with digital technology and build their portfolios.

3D scanning is an excellent way to introduce students to technology that produces art. For example, a custom jewelry maker Little Shop of Hearts combined clay sculpture work with a 3D scanner to transform art into a commercially viable business. Through a 3D modeling program, the artist was able to smooth the tool marks out of the design, resulting in greater detail and a better end result.

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3. They Turn Students From Consumers Into Creators

3-D technology increases student engagement, transforming students from passive consumers to active creators. Rather than sitting back and passively consuming a lesson, students undertake a hands-on experience, helping them better retain and comprehend the information they’re being taught.

A 3D scanner can be a powerful tool, especially when it’s used as part of a larger creative process. It’s a tool that greatly decreases the amount of time and work involved in creative procedures, and opens up new possibilities. A 3D printer and 3D scanner effectively simulate a mini-manufacturing environment, where one sculpture can be used to create many items. It also allows for more artistic freedom to sculpt objects in any size in order to let creativity flow. The fruits of that work can then be made to fit any size parameter that the endeavour requires.

Speeding up the design process gives students more freedom to play, initiate and follow through on their ideas within the time constraints of the classroom schedule. 3D scanning circumvents the long hours required to build 3D models from scratch in computer software, and students gain a sense of ownership and accomplishment when they scan their own models.

4. They are Applicable to Real-World Situations

3D projects are largely about designing creative solutions for real-world problems, allowing students to clearly see the impact of their learning in tangible contexts. This kind of relevant skill-building encourages engagement, taking students from groans of “When will I ever use this?” to a genuine connection between skills and application, providing immediate value and purpose in the curriculum.

For example, Emily Esser used her Matter and Form scanner and Lightwave 3D to verify a critical element within her art history undergraduate thesis, solving an ancient art mystery. By building a better visual reconstruction of a Greek vase from 500 BCE, she “was actually able to verify something [she] wasn’t sure of, that was a big part of [her] thesis.”

5. They Can Help Build a More Balanced Curriculum

It’s an unfortunate reality that arts programs are often the first thing cut from school budgets.4

However, through a multidisciplinary approach that integrates the learnings of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) together, those reluctant to fund arts can be persuaded due to the scientific and mathematical applications involved.

3-D printing and scanning link the artistic, the scientific and technological sectors into one activity and provides instructors with a perfect opportunity to apply interdisciplinary principles to their lesson plans.

Implement 3D Printing and Scanning into Your Arts Classroom

3D technology is an enriching teaching tool that promotes imagination, creation, engagement and enables students to leverage their creativity and innovation within the world of design.

To find out more about how 3D scanning is improving learning in the classroom, visit our blog or browse our website today.

Works Cited:

  1. 3D Printing.com, What is 3D Printing?
  2. Sculpteo, 3D printed fashion: Why is additive manufacturing interesting for fashion?
  3. SkillCrush, Super Creative? Check Out These 10 Amazing Tech Careers
  4. The Star, Arts education squeezed out across Ontario schools, new report says
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Teaching tools, resources and lesson plans, for free.
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