Scanning the World – a Global Educational Initiative for 3D Printing

As Educational Consultants, we travel around Long Island and New York City visiting schools, libraries and community groups. Once there, we are always asked the following question: What should we be printing with our 3D Printers to really motivate and fascinate our students?

There are many answers to this question, but since I am a strong believer in S.T.E.A.M., I always encourage our clients to put the Arts into the center of their 3D printing program. One digital resource I highly recommend is My Mini Factory.

Recently, I communicated with Jonathan Beck- the Manager of their “Scan the World” Initiative and we discussed how teachers can use this great website to captivate and motivate students of all ages and interests. Besides having a fantastic collection of free 3D printable files, organized by category, many of them with great kid appeal, they also offer an exciting opportunity to get free 3D printed models delivered free of charge, based upon photographic submissions from photographers around the world. The beauty of this initiative is that students from all over the world can participate and get involved in their “Global Digital Treasure Hunt” for iconic landmarks, statues and monuments.

3D printed statue of liberty 3D_printed_vase 3D globe





No prior experience necessary

Students with no knowledge or experience with 3D printing or scanning can get involved by submitting carefully orchestrated photographs of sculptures, monuments, buildings and landmarks in their own communities.

The following link on their website describes in detail how photographs should be taken and then submitted.  All that is required is a total of 40 – 50 images taken from every angle, including the top and bottom when possible, with close-ups showing intricate details, likes fingers, faces and jewelry.

Throughout my 33 year teaching career, I always looked for ways to create a global learning experience and a global classroom. Here, at this link, teachers and students can track global participation and see who else is part of this world wide effort to build the world’s largest repository of 3D printable monuments, sculptures and artworks.  Each free printable object offered on the site is original and unique. They have all been test printed by a team of 3D Printing Gurus on affordable 3D printers. Each design comes with a how-to section that explains how to achieve the best print.

In addition to offering a great collection of free printable files, they also offer a 3D Print-On- Demand service and a 3D Design-On-Demand Service.  Experienced 3D printing students can also register on the website and join the growing global community of qualified “designers” and “makers” This is a great way to introduce students to possible career paths that can actually lead to paying jobs utilizing their engineering and artistic talents.

The first version of My Mini Factory was launched on the 18th of June, 2013. It was the result of many months of hard work by a professional team of experienced 3D designers in England. I am very impressed by what they have accomplished already and I look forward to watching their in-house collection of historic artworks, monuments and statues grow as word gets out and more people get involved.

My Mini Factory recently announced the opening of their 3D Printing Academy in London, England. The MyMiniFactory Academy is the world’s first school fully dedicated to 3D Design and 3D Printing. Students will benefit directly from the knowledge of their 3D design and 3D print experts. The course will have very little theory, with the real emphasis being based on hands on, real-world experience. Students will follow practical courses during a 3-month intensive program where they will gain the best skills to become directly employable within the 3D Design and 3D Printing industry.

A great resource for art teachers

The courses will be delivered by industry leading experts, who have extensive experience designing for 3D printing as well as engineering and operating 3D printers.  Academy “lecturers” are currently working within the industry so on top of the skills they will be able to teach, students will also have access to their connections within the industry, ideally leading to opportunities for employment the minute students graduate from The Academy.

A comprehensive list of the job openings available in London will serve as a great motivation for High School students considering this STEAM oriented career path and can be found at the following link.

So in conclusion, here is a great resource for art teachers all over the world. Find your best photography minded students and teachers and let them lead the schools efforts to embrace this new 3D Industrial and Educational Revolution that is exploding, literally all over the planet. Pretty soon, other departments in schools will see the value of 3D scanning and printing and the Art Department will be at the CORE of this great new teaching tool.

Is there a monument or landmark near your school? Get your students to work photographing it and bring 3D ART into your school and see the excitement it generates.

Coming soon–  Pi-Top is the first 3D printed laptop computer, developed by Ryan Dunwoody and Jesse Loranzo.  It is designed to provide users with a kit packed with materials and detailed instructions to build the device from start to finish, creating a learning experience for those who are interested to learn about technology and how electronic devices work. After putting together their own laptop, users can also 3D print it themselves. A total “do-it-yourself” experience. MyMiniFactory is working with the Pi-Top team to create 3D printable files for the outer shell of the Pi-Top, which will be available to download on soon.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *