There are three basic things required:
3D design software - Makers Empire makes the world's easiest to use 3D design software for iPad/Android/Mac/Windows machines - suitable for students aged 5 years and up. The Makers Empire software was specifically created to meet the needs of primary school educators and is optimized for touch interfaces. For older age groups general 3D design software can produce 3D printable models (although you can also create non-printable models). Software in this category includes AutoCAD, TinkerCAD, Sketchup, Creo and Solidworks.
In the school environment we believe some directed professional learning is beneficial - it will speed up adoption, reduce frustration and get your teachers and librarians 3D printing faster. 3D printing is changing so quickly that having some guidance around software and hardware can easily save you many unnecessary hours. We have programs from an introductory 1.5 hours to a 10 week design thinking blended course - find out more about Makers Empire complete Learning Program for teachers.
3) A 3D printer or 3D printing service
1. 3D printer - You can start with a single printer to test the waters. Budget about $2,000 for the printer and filament.
2. 3D printing service - You can send your designs off to be printed for you and then sent via the post.
Although students won't have the opportunity to see a 3D printer in action, there are a number of advantages to this approach:
no need to buy a 3D printer (these are falling in price quickly)
no need to learn 3D printer software
no need to spend time printing out a classroom of designs (which can take hours/days on a single 3D printer)
higher quality prints