Monday, April 20, 2015

3D Printing: Making vs. The Maker Movement

For several years now, I have heard about the Maker Movement and how libraries can benefit from introducing Maker Spaces. I have kept my eye on the prices and applications of 3D printers, but at the same time have hesitated in purchasing one for my library since I am not sure I would be able to support its use as more than a novelty. Reading an article linked in the Horizon Report supported my concern that “the most important aspect of this approach is not in the product but rather the process behind making” (Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada & Freeman, 2014, p. 15).

Indeed, Santo (2013) distinguished between the basic act of making and the Maker Movement, which involves the learning that occurs “around the making” and includes “that initial spark of curiosity, the investigation and early tinkering, the planning and research that follow, the inspirations and appropriations from other projects, the prototypes, the failures, the feedback, and, perhaps most importantly, the iterations upon iterations towards a better make.”

It’s not that these interactions cannot happen in my library space, but cognizant of existing student use patterns, I believe they would be difficult to facilitate meaningfully.

As luck would have it, one of our Career Technical Education teachers stopped by last week and shared that she is in fact purchasing a 3D printer for her manufacturing classes. Within her classroom setting, she will be able to do exactly what Santo wrote about. She plans on having students design prototypes and then analyze products to refine them, do cost analysis, and more. I think this is a wise application of the technology and have offered to support these efforts through collaboration. Perhaps in working with this teacher, I will also crack the conundrum of how to someday host a 3D printer in the library in an effective way.


Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., Freeman, A. (2014). NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Santo, R. (2013, February 12). Is making learning? Considerations as education embraces the Maker Movement. Retrieved from


  1. Great post, Suzanne! I share many of the questions you have in your mind about how to make a Maker Space that matters. And has alliteration. :~) Very well said. Hope you update us in a few months on the thinking/reading you are doing on this subject.

    1. Thanks for reading! I like your tagline of a "Maker Space that Matters."