Project Details

A MakerBot® Replicator® Z18 3D Printer

MakerBot Academy

3D printers for US schools

By MakerBot Industries

Project URL:
Project Twitter: @thingiverse

Organisation URL:
Organisation Twitter: @makerbot

  • Education
  • Internet
  • Physical Computing
  • Social Software

MakerBot is a new initiative to put 3D printers into every American school.

CEO Bre Pettis launched the campaign after Barack Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address in which he called for the new technique to be used to ensure the ‘next industrial revolution in manufacturing…happen[ed] in America.’

With customary dotcom ambition, MakerBot Academy launched on November 2013 and aims to get the entire 100,000-strong US school network connected to the machines by the end of 2014. It’s already supplied 1,000, with MakerBot itself pledging the printers to every school in its own neighbourhood, of Brooklyn. ‘We want [American] students to be ready for the future. We have one core mission: empower the next generation,’ said Pettis.

MakerBot Academy raises money on crowdfunding platform DonorsChoose, where you can select which school you want your money to go towards. Each bundle costs $2,350 and consists of a Replicator 2 desktop 3D printer, non-toxic filaments and a protection plan.

As well as the technology, the campaign has set up a suite of 3D printing resources on that teachers can use immediately in the classroom, such as a free model of the Great Pyramid of Giza. ‘When students have the ability to hold a model or, in this case, a piece of history in the form of the Great Pyramid of Giza in their hands, it allows them to see the object differently,’ says Pettis. ‘This particular model slides apart to show the interior of the pyramid and the chambers inside. Students can get up close and personal to the Great Pyramid of Giza without traveling to Egypt to see it in person. To me, this is a transformative method of teaching; using a MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer in the classroom is almost like having access to a time machine.’

Students can also upload and share their own designs. 3D printing stimulates an interest in and develops children’s maths, literacy and problem solving skills: areas in which US education lags behind most OECD countries.

Image courtesy of MakerBot®

Last updated: 15th of July, 2014

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