If you are a seasoned 3D printer, how did you get started learning all the ins and outs of the technology? Were you lucky enough to have it introduced by a friend, who also learned it from a friend? Were you fortunate to be able to take a course featuring the technology in college? Were you introduced to it through work as an architect, engineer, or manufacturer? In the past, the 3D printing space was more tied to specific technology sectors, and this, in addition to the price and size of the machines, tended to keep 3D printing away from the general public. As all technology becomes more sophisticated and user-friendly, it becomes easier to learn on our own. But informative workshops and classes are becoming more and more common. Since there’s such an emphasis on open source sharing in the space, people are attracted to learning about the technology collectively. This is where an educational entity like Materialise’s 3DP Academy comes into play.
3DP Academy hosts sessions focused on various aspects of 3D printing, with an emphasis on the co-creative aspects of the technology. In November, Sheffield, England hosted its first Materialise UK 3DP Academy session, and engineers, designers, manufacturers, and other interested individuals enthusiastically participated. To give you an idea of how one of these Academy sessions goes, here’s a brief review of the day. First there was a presentation from Materialise Business Development Manager Iain Hill on how businesses can identify projects or parts that can be complemented by additive manufacturing. Then Research and Development Manager Toon Roels took over and covered technological processes, their materials, and their properties.
One 3D printing student, Bennett Engineering’s Craig Harbron, shared insights about his Academy experience and the emphasis on design in 3D printing:
“It’s interesting to learn that we should spend more on the design time rather than the choice of materials or the manufacturing technology. That’s not necessarily the most important part, but spending more on what is the purpose of the part, what the life span should be and what you are trying to achieve.”
Of course, no 3D printing class would be complete without printed models and parts, and there were plenty of those on hand for students to view. Also, metal 3D printing turned out to be a hot topic of the day, and people were a bit surprised at how it compared to and exceeded the strength of traditional manufacturing’s finished products.
Additive manufacturing case studies were presented that covered programmable robots, grippers, and automation solutions. The final session of the day covered Materialise’s 3D Print Barometer, which is a tool for engineers and manufacturers to gauge whether a part is fit to be 3D printed. Participants engaged in a hands-on activity with the Barometer by drawing a part they would like to be 3D printed. When a part is run through the Barometer, five properties are evaluated for printing suitability: project value, series volume, size, complexity, and purpose. The part gets an overall percentage score for its fit with 3D printing, and needless to say, there were plenty of great ideas in the room that day!
If this sounds like something you are interested in for yourself or for an in-house workplace session, you can contact the 3DP Academy here. You can also view a video about the 3DP Academy session below. Discuss this story in the 3DP Academy forum thread on 3DPB.com.