Accessing 3D Printing – Without Owning a 3D Printer

 In 30 days of education

Even if you can’t afford a 3D printer right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t access the great assortment of 3D printable kits designed for education. There are a lot of 3D printing resources available to you in your local communities. And the best part is, the maker community is a really welcoming community and will almost certainly love to help you out. We’ve assembled a few links and suggestions for things to look for in your community to help connect you to your local 3D printing resources.

First, find out if your town or city has a local MakerSpace or Fab Lab. The easiest way to do this is to simply do a web search for your town or state name and “Makerspace” or “Fab Lab.” These maker-run communities are generally very welcoming and can help assist you with what you’d like to create, with only a small fee for use of their facilities. You can learn more about Fab Labs and where to find them here.

Another great place to look for a 3D printing service is at the local library. Many city libraries offer 3D printing services to their community for a small fee to cover the printing costs. Visit your local library’s website or give them a call to find out if they offer these services.

Even community colleges and local 3D print shops are often available as community resources. One of the best ways to find out if there are 3D printers in your area is to use the 3D Hubs website. They’ve assembled a list of makers willing to help those in their community create and print things. Here’s a link to the full list of cities which have a registered 3D Hub:

Another great place to check out is your local Staples or UPS store. Many of their locations are beginning to offer 3D printing services.

One important thing to consider when looking at local resources is the types of 3D printers they use to create their objects. If you’re hoping to use these local resources in conjunction with the models and curriculum, check their printer against our list of supported printers. We work with the majority of desktop 3D printers on the market, but there are some we are not yet compatible with. Be sure to investigate this when looking at your local 3D printing resources.

Finally, there are internet-based printing services like 3D Chimera, Shapeways, and WhiteClouds. Most of these, however, are not designed to work directly with our system so you’ll have to do your own designing or find free files to work with these companies. We’ll be providing information on free 3D models available later in this series so check back to find out where to find those.

Ready to bring 3D printing into your school in a meaningful way?

Have any other tips for educators looking to integrate the benefits of 3D printing in their classroom who don’t have a 3D printer? Share them below or share links to your local resources.

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