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What to Do When 3D Printers Go Wrong: Laboratory Experiences

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies: Pedagogy of Lab-Oriented Courses

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1730.1 - 26.1730.11



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Paper Authors


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

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Nebojsa I Jaksic holds the Dipl. Ing. degree in electrical engineering from Belgrade University, the M.S. in electrical engineering, the M.S. in industrial engineering, and the Ph.D. in industrial engineering from the Ohio State University. He is currently a Professor at Colorado State University-Pueblo. Dr. Jaksic served as the ASEE Rocky Mountain Section Chair (2007-2008), the ASEE DELOS Program Chair (2008), the ASEE DELOS Division Chair (2009), the ASEE Zone IV Conference Program Chair (2010), the ASEE Zone IV Chair (2012-2014), and as a member of the ASEE Board of Directors (2012-2014). Dr. Jaksic's interests include robotics, automation, and nanotechnology engineering education and research.

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What to do when 3D Printers go wrong: Laboratory ExperiencesAbstract The value of experimental experiences in engineering education and practice is immenseand is well established through the Kolb’s experiential learning cycle theory. Physical modelsand prototypes are integral parts of the engineering design process and are also well documentedin engineering literature. The above facts serve as primary motivation and justification for thiswork.The 3D-printing revolution is in full swing due to the expiration of a number of pivotal patentsand proliferation of inexpensive 3D printers. In the popular media, it is assumed that if one cancreate a 3D digital model of an object, one can easily create the object by a single push of abutton. However, this is only partially true. In general, the demonstration models provided by the3D-printer manufacturers or the objects successfully printed in the past often print well.However, new designs created by students in engineering design courses often fail to printsuccessfully. The failed prints are time-consuming, wasteful, and could damage the 3D printer.Also, they may discourage students from using 3D printers in the future. Most likely, failedprints are a result of inappropriate object orientations on the printing plate, dimensionalmiscalculations (usually not accounting for material shrinkage), unsuitable geometry for 3Dprinting, inadequate printing support structure, and/or inadequate adherence of the first printedlayer to the printing plate.This work describes post-3D-printing experiences in an engineering department’s 3D-printinglab that uses inexpensive 3D printers. The lab is used primarily by undergraduate engineeringstudents (mechatronics and industrial engineering programs) for mechanical designs in variouscourses. It includes nine inexpensive 3D printers and employs one half-time student technician.The lab experiences are based on over three thousand print-time hours and over a thousandprinted objects. In this work, common print failures based on students’ unsuccessful prints areclassified and analyzed. The implemented solutions are described. Also, a set of post-printingprocesses and tools (3D pen, soldering iron, Dremel tools, acetone treatment, etc.) for rework orenhancements are presented. In order to evaluate the pedagogical success of lab activities andprocedures, an assessment of students’ knowledge (and skills) of sound 3D-printing proceduresand post-processing techniques is developed, administered, and analyzed.

Jaksic, N. I. (2015, June), What to Do When 3D Printers Go Wrong: Laboratory Experiences Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25066

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