3D Printing Journeys 

The children in Year 4 at my school have taken a new role this term. They are city designers. 

Their task?

Design a city. Starting off consider the services and facilities a city needs. 

We identified five categories of building: 

  • -energy and water 
  • -food
  • -education and culture
  • -entertainment and leisure
  • And finally governance

In each category separate teams argued for and against specific options. 

‘We need a supermarket to provide food more than a green house to grow it because we need a wider range of foods than a greenhouse can provide for our city.’

‘We need a police station more that a parliament building to keep our people safe.’
When two options in each category had been selected we did some research. What would a swimming pool building look like?

Then it was time to design our own accommodation. Think big! There were solar houses with roof gardens and high tech transport options. 

The design research process for the buildings focussed on zones in the city. It was quickly established that the desalination plant should be near water and the airport should be away from house. While our cinema should be much more central and accessible with public transport. 
So many thoughtful connections and knowledge was shared. 
Each element needed information and two dimensional diagrams. The ideas came thick and fast. 
We started transferring the concepts to 3D with Tinkercad, a straightforward online tool. When we work in 3D we have to consider new relationships between object. Are they lined up horizontally and vertically. We learned to group objects that were solid with holes to make arches and doorways. 

As we reached the next phase. The files had to be converted to .STL format for the Ultimaker printer. 

We thought about dimensions, overhangs and gaps. Would the structure of our build work in 3D. Some decide they shouldn’t print as success wasn’t guaranteed. 

The outcome?

A city was born without a name. That’s the next step. To choose one. 

Why do we 3D print?

Printing this way is revolutionizing manufacturing. A 3D building has been printed in Amsterdam. 


The Netherlands is developing 3D printing in many fields from construction to clothing. 3D is also a form being explored in medicine to support prosthetics production. 

The Dutch city of Venlo is soon to host a conference with a focus on 3D printed food.


Who can tell what will be 3D printed in the not too distant future?