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MAKER: 3-D–Printing Evolution in Engineering Education: The Things We Make

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Make It!

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Nebojsa I. Jaksic Colorado State University, Pueblo Orcid 16x16

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NEBOJSA I. JAKSIC earned the Dipl. Ing. degree in electrical engineering from Belgrade University (1984), the M.S. in electrical engineering (1988), the M.S. in industrial engineering (1992), and the Ph.D. in industrial engineering from the Ohio State University (2000). He is currently a Professor at Colorado State University-Pueblo teaching robotics and automation courses. Dr. Jaksic has over 60 publications and holds two patents. Dr. Jaksic's interests include robotics, automation, and nanotechnology engineering education and research. He is a licensed PE and a member of ASEE, IEEE, and SME.

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The 3D-printing revolution is here. New inexpensive 3D printers are introduced weekly. Universities, two-year colleges, and K-12 institutions are buying 3D printers for their design courses. Many of the middle schools and high schools in the country already have at least one 3D printer. Technology enthusiasts belonging to the Makerspace movement often use communal space equipped with multiple 3D printers, laser cutters/engravers, and CNC machines. While the 3D printers based on fused deposition modeling (FDM) are still prevalent, other inexpensive 3D-printing technologies are slowly gaining acceptance among builders. This paper addresses questions like “How well accepted are these additive manufacturing technologies? Can this acceptance be measured through the degrees of complexity, ingenuity, and utility of printed objects?”

Through printed objects, this work describes 3D-printing experiences in an engineering department’s 3D-printing lab where inexpensive 3D printers are implemented. The lab is used primarily by undergraduate engineering students (mechatronics and industrial engineering programs) for mechanical designs in various courses and in support of other extracurricular activities. It includes eight inexpensive 3D printers with post-processing tools and employs two half-time student technicians. The described lab experiences are based on over five thousand print-time hours and over two thousand printed objects. In this work, an evolution in printing practices will be described and viewed through a prism of objects that were printed in the lab. Photographs of many of these projects will be included in the poster.

3D printing acceptance and proficiency go through a number of stages. At the first stage, after the 3D printers are assembled and the slicing software installed, students print test objects supplied by the 3D printer manufacturer. Then, they download project files from the Web (e.g. thingiverse) and print some of the objects. As the students become more proficient they print more complex objects and assemblies. At the next stage they start using CAD software to create their own objects. At the beginning of this stage, the objects are usually already existing parts or objects that are easy to visualize (robotic wheels, enclosures, small personalized objects like key chains, modified objects from the Web, etc.). After this, students may print 3-dimensional mathematical curves and start with more complex objects. At the end of this stage students design and print whole mechanical assemblies like robotic platforms, prosthetic hands/arms, and other new designs including art. They also use pre- and post-processing tools and techniques to create their objects, repair failed prints or to create larger assemblies. As a pre-processing step, students learn how to use 3D scanning hardware platforms with associated software (e.g. Kinect sensor with Scanect software). In the next stage, students start exploring different printing materials in addition to ABS and PLA to create objects with different electrical and other characteristics. Finally, students start modifying the 3D printers, or add new equipment for 3D printing labs (like filament maker and plastic shredder) and start inquiring about other inexpensive 3D printing technologies. The poster will discuss and show 3D printed objects as the students move through different developmental stages while they become more proficient and engaged with 3D printing technologies.

Jaksic, N. I. (2016, June), MAKER: 3-D–Printing Evolution in Engineering Education: The Things We Make Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27326

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