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In the past, most objects were manufactured away from the home, in factories or special shops. 3D printing promises to change that by making it possible to make practically anything at home. But how does 3D printing actually work?

In this lesson, students are introduced to cross sections through MRI images. Then, students study the connection between objects and their cross sections to understand 3D printing, its benefits, and its risks.

Students will

  • Identify body parts given a set of MRI cross sections
  • Sketch a picture of an MRI cross section taken from the top given an MRI cross section taken from the side
  • Sketch the cross sections of a bottle, a vase, and a ring to understand how 3D printing produces these objects
  • Analyze the costs and benefits of 3D printing technology

Before you begin

Many of the questions in this lesson use the language of 2D or 3D. If your students are rusty on the distinction between 2D and 3D objects,you’ll want to clarify this before beginning the lesson.This lesson focuses heavily on the concept of “cross section,” but this lesson could serve as an introduction to that idea.

Common Core Standards

Content Standards
Mathematical Practices


Makerbot, How It's Made, Apple, Mashable