3D Printer for Kids – Advice, 3 Resources, Starting Point

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I started 3D designing and printing with my students about a decade ago and in that time, I have learned a lot. At the same time, with the growing popularity of 3D printing and 3D design, many parents are wondering how to get their kids involved. Fortunately, there are a number of tools available that make it easy for kids to explore the world of 3D printing. This guide will provide an overview of Tinkercad, a user-friendly 3D modeling program, as well as explain my thoughts on getting a 3D printer for kids. 

Don’t just buy a 3d printer for kids and hope it will hold their attention

I know a lot of parents who had kids who now have printers and disinterested kids. In fact, I would recommend spending time learning TinkerCAD before even considering a purchase. If your child is getting more and more interested in their designs, then start to think about a purchase.

In my classroom, we only print what we design ourselves.

What is TinkerCAD? 

Tinkercad is a free, web-based 3D modeling program developed by Autodesk. It allows users to create simple shapes and objects that can be printed on a 3D printer. The program is simple enough for children as young as 8 to use and provides an excellent introduction to the basics of 3D modeling and design. The program also offers tutorials and projects that help kids learn more about creating designs with shapes such as circles, squares, rectangles, cylinders, pyramids and more.  

This simple design platform makes it easy for kids (and adults!) of all ages and skill levels to bring their ideas to life in three dimensions. It won’t take long before your child has mastered the basics and is creating amazing designs like never before! And once they do know how it works, they can use it as much as they want without worrying about running out of materials or making costly mistakes—it’s completely free! 

How do I get started with TinkerCAD?

You are in luck! I believe that there needs to be more basic, free instruction available to everyone, so check out the tutorials I have made for absolute beginners below!

What Kind of 3D printer for kids Should I Get? 

There are several types of printers available for purchase today but the best one for kids is an FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) printer. FDM printers use plastic filament (the same material used in Legos) to build up layers in order to create objects. These types of printers are safe for kids because they don’t require heating elements or other hazardous materials found in some other styles of printers. They’re also relatively affordable compared to other types of printers so you won’t have to break the bank in order to get started.  

My advice: Go with the hugely popular and well supported (by the massive communities that have them) printers. I have Ender-3s in my classroom. I have had to get good at fixing them, but that is the tradeoff for inexpensive machines. There are so many out there, people in your network may have already fixed a few.

What Can My 3D Printer for Kids Do? 

Once you’ve purchased a printer, your kid can start exploring different ways to use it. They can use Tinkercad or another similar program or they can download files from sites like Thingiverse or MyMiniFactory which offer thousands of free ready-made designs that they can customize using their own imagination. Your kid may even want to take things further by learning how to write code in order to control the printer directly through programs like Arduino IDE or Cura LulzBot Edition! No matter what your child decides, there’s sure to be something that will spark their interest when it comes to design and a 3D printer for kids!  

Getting a 3D Printer 

Deciding which 3D printer for kids to get can be tricky since there are so many different models out on the market. You want something that is user-friendly but also capable enough to handle projects your child may be interested in undertaking. Some key things to consider when looking at printers include price, size, resolution, availability of replacement parts, and customer support. It’s also important to think through safety issues—you don’t want your child using a machine that is too powerful or hazardous without proper supervision or instruction. 

Considering 3D printers for kids is one of the most exciting ways for to explore science and engineering concepts from a hands-on perspective. Thanks to programs like Tinkercad, it’s easier than ever for parents to get their children started on their own journey into the world of 3D design and printing.

After 10 years, here is my take:

I see 3D printers for kids as great tools for helping to teach some really important lessons to kids today, that is why I run this site. Mindset lessons, technology, and creativity are all topics that can be easily taught with a 3D printer.

 Whether your child wants to explore engineering concepts or simply wants find a creative outlet for their imagination, 3D printing offers them an exciting way do just that! With tools like Tinkercad and FDM printers readily available on the market today, getting started with this technology has never been easier—or more fun! So why not give your kid an amazing opportunity and let them dive into the world of 3D printing today? Who knows what amazing things they might come up with!

I am creating this site to advance student creativity and help students to take ownership of their learning. The resources on this site are intentionally open-ended and a part of my Innovative Arts curriculum.

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