Open letter: 3D printing in design educations

By admin, November 23, 2012

About the importance of 3D printers for the IDK program (and other programs at K3).

Dear colleagues,

as you know over the course of the last years we have been working more and more with the physicalization of tools. The way people call this in the rest of the world is digital fabrication.

This field, digital fabrication, deals with the idea that more or less everything we do, build, purchase or imagine requires computers in its making. As interaction designers, when learning about the affordances of products, we need to think about how things will feel, how much they will weight, their textures or smells.

Therefore, I think we need to consider alternative and more future thinking ways of looking at objects.

I have been involved in creating prototyping platforms dealing with the intelligence of objects, but I have as well been very concerned about the way the electronics will be housed inside those objects. When designing and imaginig new things, designers need to hold objects in their hands.

We teach our students how to use 3D tools and how to create virtual environments, I think the next logical step is bringing those objects to life. 3D printing is, together with laser engraving, at the cutting edge of ways of producing objects nowadays … why making a poster about an object when you can print (literally) the object?

I think we can bring 3D printing as a technique into the second prototyping class, and from then and on, students could be printing for projects at every course in the same way they are including electronics or software in their current projects. We could also introduce 3D printing at elective courses. Personally I would like to add that to my new course proposal on the creation of Tools for Future Teaching (preliminary title).

At some point, they could even make their own printers out of the school’s printers, this initiative has already been made e.g. in Spain, and generated the very interesting Clone Wars project.




[Note: this is part of an email sent internally to my colleagues at Malmo University on the need to buy 3D printers … because there is a need. And yes, I changed my mind, in the past I was not for using them, but now they have reached the needed maturity to introduce them as educational tools]

What do you think?

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