What you’re going to be disappointed about

  • Speed
    • Printing is currently slow – an object the size of a golf ball is likely to take 30 minutes to print out.
    • You CAN print out multiple objects at a time and leave them to print over night – the main limitation is the size of the build plate.
    • Realistically students are likely to receive 1 to 3 prints per year.
  • Colors
    • Consumer/education printers (<$10,000) can generally print in 1 or 2 colors only (you can order full color prints through the bureau services)
  • Quality
    • The print quality will be worse than a molded plastic object from Ikea
  • Failed prints and printer break down/jams
    • Some percentage of your prints will fail (even the best printers will fail 1 in 20 times at best)
    • Your printer will jam and you will need to fix it – this takes time

Think of 3D printers like computing in the 1980’s/90’s – it is changing very rapidly.

Almost every week new 3D printers are being released and things are getting better but there are still issues.

One alternative to buying your school a 3D printer is to start with a print bureau service.


Frustrating – 28 hours into a 30 hour print and this marble run failed

Makers Empire: Better learning by design

Makers Empire helps K-8 teachers teach Design Thinking, STEM and 21st-century learning skills using 3D printing. Our pioneering 3D solutions for schools include 3D modelling software, over 150 lesson plans aligned with international standards and professional development. With Makers Empire, engaged students learn how to solve real-world problems and make their world better.