TOKYO — The Japanese economy ministry plans to support the use of 3-D printers in educational institutions with the aim of enabling students to use them as well, according to government sources.

The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry plans to select several universities and technical colleges this summer and subsidize two-thirds of their purchase expenses. The ministry intends to spread the target schools to middle and high schools across the nation in fiscal 2015.

By providing opportunities to use 3-D printers, which create three-dimensional objects based on 3-D data, the ministry also hopes they will find new uses for the printers by incorporating students’ creative thinking.

The subsidy of about ¥200 million ($1.95 million) will be appropriated from the budget earmarked as a support fund for research and development at small and medium-sized companies in the supplementary budget for fiscal 2013.

The ministry will accept model school candidates as early as this month and choose the model schools by this summer.

The amount of subsidy per school will be from several million yen to tens of millions of yen. A school may also purchase multiple printers. From next year, the ministry plans to accept candidate schools from middle and high schools as well.

The ministry intends to make educational institutions into research and development centers in communities by encouraging companies around the schools to also use the 3-D printers. The ministry’s research group for new manufacturing is planning to include a project in the final report, to be compiled shortly.

Students are expected to learn manufacturing processes in classes and through research, and become accustomed to using 3-D data in planning and designing.

In middle schools, it is assumed students will create robots with new designs and functions and become familiar with life science through creating gene models…. see more

source: todayszaman