Digital Fab Tools for Schools

3D Printing & Imaging CAD Education Workshop
Digital Fab Tools for Schools
Image (8) crestviewShopBot.jpg for post 76045
A ShopBot CNC router does its thing.

It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that we have a pretty strong opinion on the future of education here at MAKE. “Making,” especially through the use of digital design and fabrication tools, is extremely important for learning STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) topics. Free CAD tools like TinkerCAD and 123D Design have made it possible for anyone to design a part in 3D with a little bit of practice, and the cost of fabrication tools like 3D Printers and CNC routers is quickly dropping, so they can make their parts for cheap too.

ShopBot, creator of a line of popular CNC router tools, have collaborated with CAD powerhouse Autodesk to create a program that aims to bring digital fabrication tools into more schools around the country. Fifty ShopBot Desktops were set aside for teachers and educators in the US to claim through the promotion, “Digital Fab Tools for Schools,” and vouchers of $2,500 are available based on a first come, first served basis from Along with the physical tool and digital design software, teachers will have access to free projects and tutorials on the website, to get them up to speed on digital fabrication and assist them in effectively teaching STEM topics.

Thankfully, Autodesk and ShopBot aren’t alone in the push to get more fabrication tools into schools. Brook Drumm of PrintrBot is adamant about getting more 3D Printers into the hands of students, and recently offered up a nice deal through a Kickstarter campaign, which unfortunately didn’t reach it’s goal. Thankfully, Printrbot still offers discounts to students and teachers on their website.

We think it’s important that students get exposure to STEM topics through tools like a 3D Printer or CNC Router in school, and we’re glad that ShopBot, Autodesk, and PrintrBot feel the same.

6 thoughts on “Digital Fab Tools for Schools

  1. Steven Davis says:

    More hands on making in schools, definitely!

    Starting with 3D printers? How about some table saws, scroll saws, and other basic tools for woodworking, metalworking, and electronics at a fraction of the cost?

    The only thing that a 3D printer buys you is probably some liability coverage.

    1. Thomas Bruzan says:

      With a table saw you can make a home and fill it with furniture. With a 3d printer you can make a drawer full of key fobs.

    2. Digital Fab Tools for Schools jamesfloydkelly says:

      Are you serious??

      Tablesaws — missing fingers. 3D printers… burned fingers. I agree that basic wood and metalworking skills should be taught, but liability is going to bring higher costs to a school that uses tablesaws and lathes and drill presses. 3D printers can be protected from fingers with clear enclosures. The other tools you mention require hand feeding.

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Eric is a Mechanical Engineer with interests in machining, mass manufacturing, product design and kinetic art. While not building things, he enjoys skiing, cycling, and juggling.

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