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An Examination Of Rapid Prototyping In Design Education

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Biological and Agricultural Tech Session I

Tagged Division

Biological & Agricultural

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.188.1 - 14.188.8



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Paper Authors

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Paul Schreuders Utah State University

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Scott Greenhalgh Utah State University

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Steven Mansfield Utah State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

An Examination of Rapid Prototyping in Design Education


To evaluate the effectiveness of a rapid prototyped model, a course was examined which requires students to conceive a design and create a model or prototype demonstrating their design. Students were randomly selected from the course to be given access to the rapid prototype or to create the models (prototypes) as the class has done for more than twenty years. The models were graded by three experts in the field using a rubric which focused on three key aspects of the model project. Those aspects included craftsmanship, design quality, and scale (proportion). The measures of craftsmanship and scale produced a large effect ( d = .82; d = .86) with significant probability values (p < .047; p < .043), while the measure of design produced a small effect size ( d = .22) with a non-significant probability value ( p < .536) when comparing the rapid prototyped models to the traditionally built models.

Introduction Creating physical models or prototypes has traditionally been a part of engineering and the design process. These models serve several purposes, including providing a demonstrative form of the final project and feedback for revision and improvement within the design process (Alley, 1961). In an educational setting, models and prototypes have traditionally been constructed by hand using a variety of materials in the absence of machining tools and training. This is considered a fundamental aspect of design according to the Standards of Technological Literacy set by the International Technology Education Association (ITEA, 2002), the National Academy of Engineering (NAE, 2002), and many leading engineering educators (Oaks, 2003). In the 1980’s, the manufacturing industry began developing what has evolved into rapid prototyping and three-dimensional printing technology. This technology has provided the ability for designers and engineers to create three-dimensional physical models from three-dimensional computer models. This process involves the addition of material through a variety of processes. Recently, rapid prototype technology has been incorporated into the academic curriculum of several design disciplines (Dimitrov, Schreve, & de Beer, 2006; Modeen, 2005; Tennyson & Krueger, 2001). Many claims have been (and will be) made as to the potential for three-dimensional printing and rapid prototyping to revolutionize or enhance design education. However, no studies we indentified justify the effects as being positive, negative, or comparable when curricula containing rapid prototyping were compared with traditional methods of model construction such as carved models, shaped models out of ceramics, and models constructed from foam core or paper. There is no experimental data comparing traditional model construction techniques to rapid prototyping techniques with respect to meeting educational objectives.

Schreuders, P., & Greenhalgh, S., & Mansfield, S. (2009, June), An Examination Of Rapid Prototyping In Design Education Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5786

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