Apr. 10, 2015 | By Alec

Taiwan has long been known as a country committed to 3D printing innovation, as a lot of promising startups can be found there, but that is clearly not enough for the Taiwanese Ministry of Education.  To promote 3D printing amongst its youth and to solidify the country’s reputation as a talent pool for 3D printing, the Executive Yuan (the executive branch of the government) has just announced the development of mobile digital fabrication laboratories, known as Fab Trucks.

Over the next two years, these Fab Trucks will embark on a very ambitious project, visiting 497 high schools throughout Taiwan. Throughout that project 160,000 students and teachers are set to come into contact with 3D printing. Everywhere they go, the trucks will enable high school students to experience and play with 3D printing themselves through presentations and workshops. Hopefully, this will nurture a whole generation of talented creatives that are familiar and comfortable with 3D printing technology. This should transform the island nation into a creativity base set to compete internationally.

Students holding 3D printed bracelets.

As Commissar Yuling Cai argued earlier this week, this year’s focus on the maker movement and the plans that accompany it are set to combat a new wave of industrial competition. It should, she revealed, facilitate the transition from Maker1.0 to Maker 2.0 and make it easier bridge the gap between professional industries and high school education. Cai further hoped that it will encourage the development of new trends for diverse customized production.

3D printed stacked frogs on display at the launch ceremony.

At the launch ceremony the Taiwanese Minister of education, Wu Si Hua, said called this innovation an opportunity for Taiwan education to change. ‘It lets students through their experience and learning, realize that their good ideas using new technology,’ he said. ‘Taiwan should quickly transform into an innovation society.’ To realize that, students need to think of creative questions, while the 3D printer-loaded Fab Trucks enable them to experience how that creativity can be turned into actual products.

According to Cai, the Ministery of Education has spent 7 million TWD ($224K) to build the six laboratory trucks, all of which carry various professional 3D printing-related equipment, including DLP (light curing) and FDM 3D printers, a CNC milling machine, laser cutters and additional accessories and materials. Students are invited to use the Fab Truck as much as possible while present at their campus as part of a free professional studies addition to their curriculum, in the hope that they become fully aware of spirit of the Maker.

This isn’t the first attempt of the Ministry of Education to promote 3D printing applications in schools, since the Executive Yuan announced its intention to popularize 3D printers amongst its high school students. However, it is certainly the farthest reaching project. The Ministry has previously established experiment centers complete with 3D printers in a handful of schools across the country. It has sponsored a 3D printing classes in five schools, providing 23 research and studies classes already. The Taiwan government also plans to host Asia’s first annual Fab Lab meeting on May 26, hoping to develop new relations with international makers and to share creative results. However none of those initiatives will potentially reach as many students as the Fab Trucks initiative. Will this give Taiwan a head start in finding next generation’s makers?



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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