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New Inexpensive 3-D Printers Open Doors to Novel Experiential Learning Practices in Engineering Education

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Laboratory Experiences with Mechanical, Materials and Fluid Systems

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.932.1 - 24.932.23



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Paper Authors


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

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Nebojsa I. Jaksic received the Dipl. Ing. degree in electrical engineering from Belgrade University in 1984, an M.S. in electrical engineering and in industrial engineering, and a Ph.D. in industrial engineering from the Ohio State University in 1988, 1992, and 2000, respectively. From 1992 to 2000, he taught at DeVry University in Columbus, Ohio. In 2000, he joined Colorado State University, Pueblo, where he is currently a professor and director of the BSE, MSE, and MSISE programs. Dr. Jaksic's interests include robotics, automation, and nanotechnology engineering education and research. He is a member of ASEE, IEEE, SME, and MRS.

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New Inexpensive 3D Printers Open Doors to Novel Experiential Learning Practices in Engineering EducationAbstract Early laboratory demonstrations of rapid prototyping systems were conducted almostthirty years ago (1984). However, their acceptance in undergraduate engineering curricula wasrelatively slow due to the high cost of the equipment, the high cost of the materials used, andhigh maintenance costs. Only a few engineering departments could afford such machines. Eventhen, they were mostly used for demonstrations or limited number of student projects. However,recently this changed. Namely, a new breed of rapid prototyping machines, the inexpensive 3Dprinters, based on the fused deposition modeling (FDM) process emerged. Such 3D printers“build” three-dimensional objects by depositing multiple layers of molten plastic, one on top ofthe other. Instead of paying $100,000 for a single rapid prototyping machine as of a couple ofyears ago, an engineering department can now equip a whole rapid prototyping laboratory withten 3D printers for under $20,000. This affordability creates a number of new possibilities for 3Dprinters’ use in engineering education.This work describes a set of new inexpensive 3D printers and their application in experientiallearning as a part of engineering education. The value of experiments, laboratory exercises, andother hands-on experiences in undergraduate engineering education is well established throughthe Kolb’s experiential learning cycle theory. The use of rapid prototyping machines and moreexpensive 3D printers in aiding visualization in engineering graphics courses, teaching additivemanufacturing methods in manufacturing courses, and building of prototypes in engineeringdesign courses are described in literature. This work will address some of the applications ofinexpensive 3D printers in those areas as well as their applications in teaching mathematics. Anintegration of 3D printers in a multidisciplinary engineering curriculum will be presented.Assessment of student learning due to the implementation of 3D printers will be addressed. Anumber of student projects will be analyzed, and a conclusion on the acceptance of thistechnology by undergraduate students will be derived.

Jaksic, N. I. (2014, June), New Inexpensive 3-D Printers Open Doors to Novel Experiential Learning Practices in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22865

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