STUDENTS at a Crediton school say lessons now have an extra dimension with the arrival of two pieces of pioneering technology which will allow them to transform their paper blueprints into glorious 3D.
Queen Elizabeth's Academy, Western Road, took delivery of two pieces of machinery – a 3D printer and a laser cutting device which are set to achieve major technologically advances in the way design and technology is taught.
The purpose of the new machines delivered last month is to give students hands on experience of the latest computer controlled technology used in emerging high-tech industries.
The 3D printer enables students to print their computer drawings and realise them in three dimensions, within minutes. The laser cutting-machine will let students experience computer-aided-design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) techniques and cut extremely accurate products, as well as engraving the surface of work to a very fine level of detail.
Product design students in QE's sixth form who have been lucky enough to trail these machines already have been delighted with the results.
Tom Martin said: "The machines will make it easier to try out ideas and open up new possibilities as to what we could explore as designers."
Cian Healey said: "I am really looking forward to exploring the potential of the 3D printer. Using it for rapid prototyping of models and ideas will allow me to see if my idea will work before constructing the final creation."
Headteacher Richard Newton-Chance said: "We are determined to give our students access to the emerging technologies that they will increasingly experience in high-tech industries. This is a part of a deliberate policy on behalf of our governors to give students at QE access to the very best technology and resources, particularly in the sixth form."
The school's head of technology Barry Kelly said: "Our philosophy in the design and technology learning area is to provide students with the experience to explore and innovate with materials while maintaining a passion for aesthetics and functionality.
"Our new laser machine and 3D printer will definitely have an immediate impact and I eagerly anticipate the results students create."
As well as sixth formers, students across all ages will have access to both machines through design and technology and all related subjects.
As 3D printing technology becomes more readily available, more and more classrooms will be equipped with the machines. Soon students are also expected to be able to connect to their school's 3D printer from home using a smartphone app to complete homework assignments.