3D printers, through rather spectacular technology, allow users to create three-dimensional solid objects from a digital design. They vary in features and cost — when it comes to your children, less advanced, consumer-grade printers allow them to create small gadgets and toys.
3D printing can be very educational, encouraging a new generation of designers and engineers.
There are several child-friendly 3D printers on the market. These consumer grade 3D printers may be appropriate for children aged 8 years+, if they are using suitable design software and are closely monitored by an adult.
What to look out for
- Consumer-grade 3D printers can heat up like an oven, and the fast-moving metal parts can be dangerous for small fingers.
- Some design software may be too advanced for children.
- There are ongoing costs for materials such as filament cartridge refills or maintenance.
- Be wary of the materials used and the energy consumption of this type of technology.
How to stay safe
- Talk to your child about the possible dangers of using a 3D printer and supervise them as appropriate.
- Use protective equipment — like gloves and glasses — when handling a 3D printer.
- Ensure your child uses age-appropriate software to design models for printing.
- Design together — help your kids find the things they want to print by using a 3D print search engine like Yeggi.