Many of my readers may have figured out that I embrace technology that is affordable and has great uses in one’s personal and business life. If this same product helps education, that makes it all the better.
For the past year I have personally been back in the classroom, teaching 3D printing. Currently my company is developing a division of our company that will train, teach and purchase all that is needed to start STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs in schools.
While teaching the 3D printing classes I am always looking for applicable careers in which 3D printers could be relevant.
The first time someone sees the process of creating something from nothing is hard to describe on paper, and I was guilty as well of experimenting “for fun” with the printer and printing hundreds of items when I first got it. So, of course, readers may think 3D printing is just for toys or useless items. There are plenty of those out there. However, if I would guess one industry that is way ahead in the applicability of 3D printing, it would be the medical field.
Dr. Ben Taragin, a friend who works as a radiologist at Children’s Montefiore Hospital, gave The Jewish Link an exclusive interview regarding 3D printing and medicine. “Every day yields astonishing progress in medical 3D printing; advances in software, hardware and materials that we once thought were far in the future are now being used to improve patient care at health systems around the country. It’s as if your CT scan was an instruction book to creating a model of your body,” said Dr. Taragin.
“Our process involves using state-of-the-art scanning techniques, with low-dose radiation, to obtain a high resolution CT scan. We then use dedicated software to convert the images into a format that can be printed by the 3D printer into a model of the part of the body that was scanned,” he added.
These technologies allow the surgeons to plan out procedures in advance of stepping into the operating room, and even practice the surgery on the 3D printed model, Dr. Taragin told The Jewish Link.
A recent example of this was the separation of twin boys conjoined at the head. Dr. Oren Tepper worked with pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. James Goodrich and neuro-radiologist Dr. Jack Farinhas, to create models from the CT scans of the boys’ skulls and use them as guides to successfully separate them. “The team used these models to plan each stage of this complex series of procedures in advance. It’s a process that we hope to utilize more often for a variety of different surgical cases,” Dr. Taragin said.
Other examples Dr. Taragin said would be forthcoming are the ability to print custom-made, patient-specific prosthetics/implants to help patients overcome congenital or acquired deformities. Imagine dropping off your CT scan and getting a personalized custom-made hip replacement. It reminds me of, back in the day, dropping off my film at the pharmacy for development into physical photographs.
“As the technology continues to improve, we hope that one day we will be able to utilize stem cells and biological material to custom create internal vital organs such as the trachea (windpipe), replacement arteries, and a host of other structures, without the fear of the body rejecting these objects,” said Dr. Taragin.
There are some inspiring videos where a father quits his job and invents a 3D robotic arm for his 3-year-old son. Another child receives a prosthetic arm customized by the Blue Man Group.
As the price drops for 3D printing, more homes can start to look at this amazing technology. There are so many brands to choose from. I try to recommend hardware that readers can purchase from Amazon. XYZ DaVinci printer can be purchased from Amazon for under $400. Another item to purchase is filament. With XYZ it is a snap-in cartridge that’s pretty simple to use after two to three installs. Filament is the plastic-looking material that is used to print your object.
Then you will need a slicing program. To start off easy, go with the XYZ software that comes with the XYZ DaVinci printer. Slicing is the program used to get from design to the 3D printed item. When you get started with 3D printing, the initial phase is the trial and error part. As you will see, even if the design looks fine, the printing can take time and effort to print perfectly.
Where can one get or see other designs? Try Tinkercad, which is free and can be used on many platforms. There is an easy tutorial included, and you can start “tinkering” with designs already created and make changes to make the design your own. You can also make your own designs and post them for others to tinker with. Some companies get revenue by sharing designs that one must pay for to download. Other companies will allow you to create a design and offer to print it at a cost.
Some DIY enthusiasts are even building 3D printers from 3D printers. “Makers” is what people who are using 3D printers are called. The 3D generation of children is called the Makers Generation.
What is really exciting about 3D printing is that anyone can love doing it: artists, engineers, adults, children, builders or, of course, techgeeks.
I always end my classes with my first graders by saying that one day their grandchildren will laugh when they hear that everyone didn’t have a 3D printer at one time.
It’s rare that I pitch my company directly. The need for educational institutions growing 3D printing is very important to me. Though the internet is needed slightly for 3D printing, this part does not need to be done by the students. The teacher can download the STL and then all of this can be done with no internet. More yeshivas should be pushing 3D printing as it is great answer to teaching STEM without the internet. I am not making a judgment either way, but 3D printing should be in every classroom.
My company, The Garb I.T. Consulting Group, is spinning off a division to jump-start 3D printing in schools. We can be reached at [email protected]
By Shneur Garb
Shneur Garb is the CEO and founder of The Garb I.T. Consulting Group located in Teaneck. Recently GCG has spun off a dedicated department for teaching, consulting and selling 3D printers. If you have comments or questions, email [email protected]