What 3D Printing Reveals to Teachers about Students


Polar 3D Co-Founder William "Bill" Steele is interviewed by syndicated radio show hosts Larry Whitler and Robin MacBlane of The Source Radio station, 1370AM and 96.3FM in Ocala, Florida. Their discussion topics included entrepreneurship, what 3D printing is revealing to teachers about their students and the Polar Ambassador program.

Larry: So Bill, right off the bat, I've got to ask, were you an entrepreneur when you were a kid?

Bill: No. interestingly enough, (my love of making) didn't take off until after I got out of school.

Larry: Was it a need thing like you couldn't find a job or was it just something that you thought would be cool?

Bill: Ha.. no. You know as a kid I always tore things apart, and I never thought about putting them back together.

At one point later on I started working for Microsoft, and we started working on projects where we started pushing the envelope of what technology could do. And when you start to push the technology envelope like that, you find a lot of gaps where a new need has to be fulfilled, and there's nothing that does that. In my particular case, 3D printing turned out to be an avenue to fill a gap that we had: developing new parts that nobody had ever thought of before.

Robin: So I generally know what 3D printing is, you see it all over these days. Could you expand on 3D printing for someone that may not be as familiar with the technology?

Bill: My granddaughter said it best when she said (her printer) was "drawing" her a part or "drawing" her a toy. In reality, we use technology very similar to this that we're very familiar with it. When we go to the soft-serve ice cream stand, you know that the operator of the machine pulls a handle, we call it extruding, but it squirts out the ice cream. Then we use our other hand to catch it into the shape of the cone.

Robin: You have a Polar Ambassador project, is that what you're working with the Boys and Girls Clubs?

Bill: We do work with Boys and Girls Clubs and we’re putting in 3D printing labs in several Boys and Girls Club locations across the country. Now, when they come in after school, they can learn to use the printers and get an understanding of what a printer is used for.

The beauty of the 3D printer, especially in some rougher neighborhoods without traditional access to technology, is that teachers can finally see how stellar their students are.

There are students that in every school that we've been to that step up and learn how to use the printer. And we engage those students and try to get them to help us, if you will, spread that knowledge, right? So, we encourage our students by giving them sometimes their own printer or a discounted printer, or filament, to keep them engaged in the classroom and their local communities.

Our company is a real small company, but we can use our "Polar Ambassadors" ambassadors to help spread the word or to help out users, like Boys and Girls Club.


Reported by Robby Wellington, Polar 3D's Cub Reporter and star intern from the University of Cincinnati.