The mayor of small Finnish town Pyhtää, Olli Nuuttila knocks down claims that he is pushing an initiative to deploy 3D printers into Finnish Schools following the ‘global 3D printing fever’.
Mr. Nuuttila does not argee with the arguments that there is no sensible usage for 3D printers in schools. He stresses the importance for exposing youngsters to 3D printing at a young age, and believes that the best results will be derived from integrating the process into the entire school system. The point is not just to teach the children to print, but to also bring new dimensions to various school subjects. As covered here on 3DPI on several occasions, 3D printed models can be used to demonstrate molecule structures, geometric patterns or archeological artifacts. This hands-on approach has the potential to stir up new enthusiasm amongst the students for studying a whole range of curriculum subjects and not just the obvious ones of design, technology and engineering.
Mr. Nuuttila knocked down claims that 3D printing is a global fad, referring to Barack Obama’s speech, in which the US President stressed 3D printing is a significant technology that can help bring jobs from China back to America. Mr Nuuttila was also eager to reference the infamous line that “3D printing could be bigger than internet” telling disbelievers that Finland is just not amongst the earliest adopters.
There has been concern about teachers’ ability to use 3D printers and the necessary training as well as maintenance issues. As with all technology, occasionally the hardware experiences failures (remember when computers were first adopted in schools?). However, in this case the value is in learning the new technology, and using a 3D printer doesn’t always require industrial level 3D printing skills. Perhaps the most difficult discipline at this level is the design input, but again – downloadable and 3D printable design files are readily available all over the internet.
Cost issues are typically related to high end 3D printing technologies, such as metal 3D printers — entry level prices for 3D printers have continued to come down, and the 3D printers proposed for Mr. Nuuttila’s initiative would be in the price range of less than a 1000 euros each.
So what about the rest of the Finnish schools? Mr. Nuuttila’s initiative concerns only one school, but points to a first step — and every journey needs one of those — whereby the model can be tested rather than rolling out to all schools at once. If the results are positive, applying the program to other schools should be easy.
Mr. Nuuttila holds a higher degree in Engineering, but his motivation for this initiative reaches beyond his passion for technology. The goal of this initiative is to provide young people with the right tools to face the future world they will work and live in.