Asee peer logo

Integrating 3-D Printing and CAD into a Materials Science and Engineering Curriculum

Download Paper |


2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Materials Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Lorraine Francis University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Lorraine Francis is a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota and the 3M Chair in Experiential Learning in the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota. Her research is focused on the field of materials processing. She has developed several courses and authored a textbook.

visit author page


Michael Manno University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

visit author page

Michael Manno is a Teaching Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota. His current teaching and research interests include the characterization of materials, thin film deposition, and implementing new technologies into the modern college-level classroom.

visit author page

Download Paper |


3D printing (3DP), also known as additive manufacturing, is an important manufacturing method that has become more accessible for academic lab facilities in the last ~5 years. Traditional manufacturing techniques, such as injection molding and forging, involve fixed molds or dies that are expensive and present limitations to the 3D shapes that can be fabricated. In 3DP, no molds or dies are required. Parts are designed using a computer aided design (CAD) program and then the digital part file is loaded into a slicer program that prepares the part file for printing on a 3D printer. From idea and concept development to final printed object, 3DP is fast and inexpensive, which opens the door to creativity, individuality and multiple redesigns in student projects. Moreover, CAD programs offer performance simulations that can be included in the design process, and the diversity of materials and methods for 3DP (or additive manufacturing) is inherently fascinating to Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) students and important for them to fully appreciate in the course of their degree program. This paper will describe how CAD and 3D printing were integrated into a MSE curriculum and the impact of the integration over the past five years. The focus of the integration was in two senior level courses that include both a lecture and a lab component. The fall course addresses on materials performance and failure, including plastic deformation, fracture, fatigue and creep. In this course, students learn SOLIDWORKS for design and also for simulation of mechanical and thermal response. CAD and 3D printing are integrated into several lab experiments and are the central focus of a semester-long design project. This project requires a design to meet a specific mechanical function and project goal, CAD, 3D printing, prototype testing and mechanical simulation. The project goal is designed to allow for individual teams to develop their own unique projects. The spring course focuses on materials processing, including traditional routes such as extrusion, injection molding, forging and powder compaction as well as a variety of 3DP/additive manufacturing methods. Students learn the fundamentals of the processes, complete lab experiments using fused filament deposition and stereolithography, compare tradition manufacturing with 3DP and carry out a design project that emphasizes resolution and aesthetics. Lastly, the integration of CAD and 3DP into the MSE curriculum has had a positive impact in both the capstone senior design project, with more projects using CAD and simulation in their projects, and in the increased use of CAD for student-led research and competition team projects. This paper will provide details on the structure of courses, the lab activities, and the design projects, and will include the lessons learned in the development, implementation in our MSE teaching lab and strategies used in team design projects. Student performance over the five year period will be analyzed and related to developments in the curriculum. Trends in the course assessment via end of semester student evaluations will also be included.

Francis, L., & Manno, M. (2019, June), Integrating 3-D Printing and CAD into a Materials Science and Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32980

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2019 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015