Digital Lathe vs 3D printing

In this lesson, students explore the different types of lathes and their applications before designing and printing an ornate leg for a piece of furniture. By the end of this lesson, students should be able to evaluate 3D printing as a process compared to a digital lathe.
MathematicsDesign and Technology
Years | Grades
7th Grade | 11-12 years8th Grade | 12-13 years9th Grade | 13-14 years10th Grade | 14-15 years11th Grade | 15-16 years
Lesson 1: 60 minutes Print time: ~ 3 hours

Digital Lathe vs 3D Printing trailer
Play 0:40


  • Understand what ‘Turning’ is as a manufacturing process
  • Realize 3D modelling skills against real world applications
  • Understand what a lathe is, the different types of lathes and their applications
  • Understand the term CNC and understand how it works
  • Evaluate 3D printing as a process compared to a digital lathe

Tools and equipment

Each student workgroup needs:
  • Internet-enabled laptop/computer and mouse
  • Set of example table legs .STL files
  • Pen or pencil
  • Digital lathe worksheet

Teacher needs:
  • 3D printer and PLA filament
  • Internet-enabled laptop/computer and mouse and layering software for the 3D printer
  • Example table leg .STL file

Skill requirements

To participate in the lesson, students should be able to:
  • Develop their own idea for the cast
  • Use Fusion360 or similar CAD software at a beginner level
  • Enter the correct 3D print settings in the DeeControl layering software
  • Use the BE3D eDee 3D printer

Digital Lathe Walkthrough
Locked 4:53

3D models overview

  • Total print time 3 hours
  • Total filament 5.38 m
  • Additional non-printable components
  • Printed all at once
Miniature ornate table leg
  • 3 hours
  • 5.38 m
Note: Values are calculated for one set of models.

Lesson resources

  • Lesson plan
  • Worksheet
  • Walkthrough
  • Walkthrough video
  • Presentation
  • 3D models
  • 3D print instructions
  • Curriculum Alignment: ISTE standard compliant