The thought of having a 3D printer in my classroom hovers somewhere between a neat device that would have some learning potential for some students and a completely terrifying new thing to learn.
Don’t take me wrong, hands-on, problem solving (self motivated or group minded) activities should be, without a doubt, in every curriculum as students should be exposed to numerous ways to learn information.
One issue for massive use of a 3D printer is my current location. I live/teach in a remote place with questionable internet. Some days I wonder if I am going to get my adult “homework” completed. Any items purchased on the internet can take a week to a month to realistically get to me and everything comes on a small Cessna or a boat. Getting supplies in a timely manner is definitely something to add to a list of negatives if we are discussing the ease of some teachers having Target or Wal-Mart, or even a gas station close by to gain quick supplies.
But there is always the other side of the coin. Having a 3D printer in a place where supplies are limited might up its practical use of making replacement parts for things quickly (while waiting for our boat to arrive-pun intended) or one-of-a-kind teaching aids.
Currently, my district does not have a 3D printer at any of its sites and I do not believe it is the first item they will go and buy when funds present themselves. The student population is just not there and I do not feel there is a lot of teacher/parent buy in right now to push the issue. Also, the PD needed for teachers (me included) to make the use of a 3D printer a valuable teaching tool, is somewhat intimidating.