July 2014
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3D Printing

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

3D printing—the art (and science) of building a digital three-dimensional model and "printing" it, layer by layer, into a tangible 3D object—has been the talk of the tech world lately. Thinking about the technology within a training context can help us understand it and consider how training professionals might use it in their work.


In a blog post for ASTD's Learning Technologies Community of Practice, Jessica Knox, a human performance specialist, discussed the implications of 3D printing for training professionals. The ability to design objects out of a variety of materials (plastic is the most commonly used, as well as ceramics, resins, and metals) gives learners the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with an object that would have been otherwise difficult to see or access.

This means, said Knox, that learners who would normally participate in 3D simulations (for machinery operation or safety training, for example) now have the chance to physically interact with a model of the objects that they would use on the job.

Engaging the services of a 3D printer is expensive, however. A relatively low-cost method is for trainers to use a 3D animation studio to create a digital model of their object, and then use a cloud-based 3D printing service, such as Sculpteo, to print it.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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