This question has been buzzing around ever since 3D printers became popular and limitless potentials in them were realized.
The answer is, any age is appropriate provided that they have learned to operate it and they are under their parents’ (or guardian’s) supervision. The ‘appropriate age’ therefore varies from kid to kid.
Some kids are intellectually more advanced than others. Some parents are busier and have less time than others to guide their kids.
There are many other factors that determine at what age a particular kid should be allowed to operate a 3D printer.
Read More About:
- 3D Printing in Education: The Future of Learning? (5 min read)
- Is Buying a 3D Printer Worth it? Cost, Pros & Cons (5 min read)
- 10 best 3d printers for every budget and level of experience (10 min read)
- Read More About:
- 3D Printers’ Category According to Age is Pointless
- Parents First, Kids Next
- What Basic Benefits Can Children and Kids Have From a 3D Printer?
- Best 3D Printer for Kids
- Final Words
3D Printers Category According to Age is Pointless
Our above discussion clarifies that 3D printers themselves cannot be categorized according to age. Some may argue that the category has been mapped out according to the average intellectual state of a particular age.
This is even more misleading because this categorization will require that parents measure their kids’ intellectual level and reckon if their kid is eligible to operatie certain printer. There cannot be a more obtuse way of taking decisions.
The best practice is very simple. Ask your kid if he’d like the idea of 3D printing. If he shows interest, you are on. Some printers are made just for kids and teenagers (We’ll provide a list later in this article).
Select one of them and don’t look at the age specification on the manual, if there is any. Get it home and start working with it.
Parents First, Kids Next
Frowning at the heading? Just cool down and think it’s you who are to guide and supervise your children. If you don’t know the basics of 3D printing how’d you do it?
Well, I don’t mean to say you should know the basic construction of a 3D printer or how to operate it; that’s something both parents and kids can learn together from tons of videos on the net and from the manual they provide.
What is important for you to know is what your kid is going to print and what could be the do’s and don’ts for them. These are something you need to ponder long over seriously.
Instead of printing everything and anything they must be guided, with much care and sagacity, to print what makes sense.
Let’s make the conception clearer under the next heading.
What Basic Benefits Can Children and Kids Have From a 3D Printer?
Let’s first see what are the good sides of a 3D printer for kids and students.
1. It Creates Excitement
Just think about a Pikachu or a Piplup that has been in videos and pictures and descriptions for years, gradually coming into 3D shape which your kid can touch, hold and show others. You cannot fathom their excitement when they’ll start having their dream characters in reality.
This also creates a better understanding of designing. 3D printing will lead them from imagination and conception to creation. The world of theories and pictures and models suddenly turning into a word of reality will change your kids attitude towards learning.
2. It Complements the Curriculum
What could be the difference between a student who learns about the human skull only from pictures and description and one who feels it, manipulates it and examines ins and outs of it? There cannot be any doubt that both are going to have different experiences and different levels of knowledge.
Same way your children’s chemistry conception sparks when they have a certain protein molecule in 3D Shape in their chemistry class. They won’t have to visit historical museums to see artifacts like mummies or some ancient household utensils.
Also astronomical and geographical models like our planetary system and fault-block mountains will certainly enhance their educational conception. And for art-loving kids there is a world of learning materials stored there.
3D Models are also easily shareable among learners making the educational material open to all.
3. It Gives Access to Knowledge Previously Unavailable
When your 5th grade kid breaks an animal cell down to its parts like golgi apparatus, mitochondria, nucleus and chromosome she will have such a crystal clear conception of the cell that hundreds of pictures and pages of description could never have given her. This is possible only if you present her a 3D print of a cell with all the parts.
4. It opens New Horizons of Learning
Once your kid develops the niche of developing, designing and reshaping 3D models of whatever he needs and whatever he can imagine there will be literally no limit where he would have to stop learning.
Everyday he’d come with new ideas to expand the horizon of his learning, and, after some days, you are very likely to see some really admirable creations that they could never have achieved without this 3D magic magic tool.
5. It Promotes Problem Solving Skills
A 3D printer can help your kid simplify and solve their educational and extracurricular problems just like a scientific or graphing calculator helps him solve mathematical problems easily.
They develop problem solving skills in two ways.
From assembling the printer to maintaining, operating and troubleshooting— all provide them with practical knowledge on modern technology.
They learn persistence while creating or editing a model and endurance while troubleshooting. Above all the confidence they achieve to keep pace with the cutting-edge technology.
The other side is even more interesting. Materializing a concept through a series of 3D modeling steps, i.e., setting up a certain task, building up basic geometry, adjusting polygon and topology, choosing materials and textures and, lastly, mapping and applying the textures, fills him with enormous confidence to face the challenges of life.
Best 3D Printer for Kids
Here are some of the 3D printers that are designed for kids, teenagers and pre intermediate students. This means, these printers are easy to operate and there are lots of pre-designed models and templates especially suitable for printing household showpieces, personal toys and ornaments and school projects. You can select anyone as per your budget and choice.
1. Toybox 3D Printer
Using a Toybox 3D printer child could easily print from his PC, laptop or even an android mobile. Its small build area is just enough for printing toys and experimental models. There are several thousands of pre-designed models of toys.
Toybox can easily be your kid’s first 3D printer.
2. Dremel Digilab 3D20
Most of the features of Dremel Digilab are suitable for new hands: easy to use interface, easy to change filament and level the bed. The customer support is also praiseworthy.
One of the negative sides of this simple printer is that it’s pretty weak in printing models with overhanging geometry.
3. Flashforge Finder Lite
So many customers’ and experts’ reviews complement that this is one of the best entry-level 3D printers.
Other than not supporting any WiFi, which is one of the reasons for it being cheaper, this machine is safer and quiet with a clear 3.5 inch touch screen and a removable build plate. The manual bed leveling could, however, be complicated for beginners.
4. Flsun Q5
Entitled ‘beginner’s best friend’ by some critics, Flsun Q5 can easily be selected as a ‘toy’ printer for kids of any age. With its impressive printing speed, a lattice glass print bed (reducing hassles of after-print tidying up), TFT touch screen, titan extruder and a lot more features this printer has got more positive reviews than negative ones.
5. Tiertime UP Box+ 3D Printer
The following features will tell you everything about this extraordinary 3D printer:
- Prints with barely visible layer-lines.
- Recycles the air in the build chamber and holds back VOC and other kinds of ultra-fine particles.
- It’s fully enclosed environment ensures temperature stability and retains print quality (like preventing of ABS warping)
- A software with easy-to-use interface that is exactly suitable for youngsters
- Versatile material support, namely ABS, PET, PLA, PLA Composites, Polycarbonate, Wood, ASA, Conductive, Nylon, Bronze, Carbon Fiber and so forth.
- 255 x 205 x 205 build volume.
- The printer readily detects if you run out of filament feed, pauses printing and resumes without the slightest damage to prints.
- You have print surface changing options that broadens your printing limit with reduction of after-print fuss.
- Zero manual effort for the platform calibration. The nine step automatic process employs the printer’s built in sensors and probes into bed leveling and placing the nozzle to a perfect height.
To me, the best feature of this printer is the blackout recovery. In case of any inconvenience with the power and the printer having to stop, it will actually pause printing. And it will start just from where it stopped without damaging the print to the least extent.
6. Ultimaker S3
This robust, high quality printer has been brought to you by a Dutch manufacturer, Ultimaker.
The amazing features like dual extrusion using print cores, elegant glass bed with automatic bed leveling, large and semi-enclosed build volume (230 x 190 x 200 mm), large 4.7 inch color touchscreen interface, great degree of connectivity (YiFi, LAN, USB card), CAD integration, high (20 micron) layer resolution, versatile material compatibility (PLA, ABS, Nylon, CPE, PC, PP, TPU, PVA), a built-in camera for monitoring have made it simply one of the leading 3D printers available on the market.
Introduced in 2019 the Ultimaker S3 has less than 50 decibel of average operating noise, easily justifiable when compared with its performance.
7. Monoprice Voxel 3D Printer
One of the acclaimed entry-level 3D printers, the Monoprice Voxel’s major focus is on convenience. While most of the low-price printers made some ‘little compromises’ almost nothing is found with this stocky, well-built printer.
Its automatic filament fill mechanism has made it ideal for the beginners. Having a built-in camera you can see the entire printing process remotely through YiFi.
With an economical but enough build area for a beginner (150 x 150 x 150 mm) its build accuracy is ±0.2mm. It has got easy assembly, a 150 x 150 x 150 mm build volume, flexible build plate (heating up to 60o). It has a maximum 60 mm/s printing speed.
For more features you can visit this site.
8. Creality Ender 3
Low budget means low-budget. Who else is going to offer a quality 3D printer with less than two hundred and a half bucks? It’s Creality Ender 3.
This incredibly affordable printer has a decent print volume. Don’t you ever think that the print quality is compromised.
Probably the most reviewed printer, it has lots of good features that can easily lure you to buy. Here, in one of our articles, you can find so many interesting features.
9. Sindoh 3DWOX DP200 3D Printer
Not exactly for the tinkerers, this stalwart printer can keep printing one after another without any sign of getting overstrained or without any issues. This is a mid-range printer for those who are well prepared to do something seriously.
You have got your precious children in a world which is radically changing. To keep abreast of time there is no alternative to placing them right in the heart of the technology and guiding them accordingly.