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Preparing to Use Rapid Prototyping: Lessons Learned from Design and Manufacturing Projects

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Manufacturing Education for Emerging Technologies and Competitiveness

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Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1063.1 - 25.1063.15



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Paper Authors


Hung-da Wan University of Texas, San Antonio

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Hung-da Wan is an Assistant Professor of the Mechanical Engineering Department and the Director of Machine Shop of College of Engineering at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). He has been teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in the areas of computer integrated manufacturing systems, Six Sigma and lean methodologies, and manufacturing systems engineering. He also manages two rapid prototyping systems at UTSA. His current research interests include sustainability of manufacturing systems and web-based applications in manufacturing.

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Firasath Ahmed Syed University of Texas, San Antonio

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Syed Firasath Ahmed is a master's student in advanced manufacturing and enterprise engineering at the University of Texas, San Antonio. He is a Graduate Research Assistant and helps with 3D Printing needs that arise in the Mechanical Engineering Department. He has experience in working with two rapid prototyping machines present in the university namely "dimension SST 1200es" and "Z Printer ZP450." He received his B.S. degree from Osmania University, India, in 2010. His research interests include rapid prototyping, manufacturing engineering, system simulation, and lean systems.

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Preparing to Use Rapid Prototyping: Lessons Learned from Design and Manufacturing CoursesAbstractRapid prototyping (RP), also known as 3D printing, has gained its role in engineering educationover the past decade. The layer-adding process of RP carries several powerful features, such asfreeform shaping and direct manufacturing, which make visualization and realization ofgeometric designs a timely and straightforward process. With the technical advancements, RPhas become more affordable and user friendly. A great amount of engineering schools in theUnited States now have their own RP machines for research and teaching purposes. Manyliteratures report that involving RP in engineering design and manufacturing courses cansignificantly enhance active learning, mainly due to the quick and direct feedback from theprinted prototypes. In some cases, functional mechanical components can be made directly byRP, which is very useful for capstone design projects.While RP has been proven as a beneficial addition to design and manufacturing courses, it canalso be a burden to the instructors and students if they are not well prepared for it. In engineeringcurricula, RP is typically introduced with an emphasis on the special features which enable the“rapid” development of prototypes. However, limitations and practical issues of RP often do notreceive the same level of attention. Without proper preparation, students’ knowledge andperception about RP can be superficial and even false. As a result, several real cases have beenwitnessed by the authors where students overlooked the constraints and came to failures indesign and manufacturing projects. Although learning from mistakes can provide importantexperience, too much frustration or catastrophic failure would be a negative impact on activelearning.This paper investigates the use of RP in design and manufacturing courses, with a focus on howto prepare the students to use the technology properly and wisely. With possession of twodifferent RP machines (i.e. fused deposition modeling and 3D printing) in the college, theauthors were able to document a collection of failure cases of student projects over the past fewyears. The causes of failure have been analyzed and categorized into Dimensional, Functional,Operational, and Economic issues. A preliminary survey shows that students without hands-onexperience of RP operations often have false expectation of RP technology, which could lead toone or several of the identified failures. After analyzing the causes of failure, a systematicguideline is developed for instructors to prepare for using RP in a design or manufacturingcourse. With well designed curricula and facilities, preparing the students properly will result inless frustration and more enjoyable learning experience with the advanced manufacturingtechnology.

Wan, H., & Syed, F. A. (2012, June), Preparing to Use Rapid Prototyping: Lessons Learned from Design and Manufacturing Projects Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21820

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