Do you remember spending days and weeks on school projects that involved an end design or prototype that had to be just perfect, and once it was handcrafted and produced there was no turning back if you botched something up with finishing touches? How amazing to think that those types of stresses are being eliminated from design these days for many types of projects — especially in the science and engineering fields, due to the introduction of 3D design and 3D printing.
At Oklahoma State, conceptualizing, designing, and finishing semester projects has become a much different process in the past couple of years. With courses centered around 3D design and the use of 3D printing, freshman design students in the ENGR13x2 course now have access to a host of different options, flexibility, and efficiency that in the beginning present them with a great challenge, and at the end reward them with some solid new knowledge that can be used in the future. The public also has the reward of seeing what interesting new designs they’ve produced.
3D printing is being integrated into many different levels of education from the grade school level, all the way up. At Oklahoma State University, they are again this year using the new technology to help freshman students gain ground in design and innovation. Not only does this add to the résumés of students as they graduate and look for possible careers in engineering and manufacturing, but it also aids them along the way in their college projects. As the technology of 3D printing grows throughout their college years, so does their skillset.
Part of using 3D design is in teaching the students that they do have a lot more flexibility and chance to re-design. If a plan goes wrong, they are easily able to go back to the drawing board or the 3D printer with the use of SolidWorks and CAD to take their projects to the 3D printer.
This year, students produced:
- 3D printed fishing reel. Due to an excellent and efficient student design, this reel, made of plastic, is fully functional and would make a quality, affordable product on the market. They were able to put it to the test and caught a stringer of fish!
- 3D printed quadcopter. This is impressive and important because they were able to design the quadcopter with a 3D printing time of under two hours in mind, meaning they could crash and re-build prototypes without missing project deadlines — not to mention that at any point after that as well, the design can be reprinted due to a mishap or crash.
- 3D printed internal components for a two stage F size rocket. Students were also able to 3D print the nosecone. Again, this project is a clear demonstration of the importance of 3D printing in design and execution, as they now have their own rocket to refine and 3D print, without the need of a ‘kit’ from any outside source — not to mention that there is no expense from a third party. It allows complete independence.
- 3D printed hexapod walker. This is an intriguing design, but it had some issues and was probably headed back to the drawing board for substantial refinement and a re-print, as it ‘stripped out’ after carrying what proved to be too much weight for the walker.
With the point of this design class being to teach the students how to use SolidWorks/CAD and take a project to fruition with 3D printing, obviously they are reaching the finish line with a great educational experience students can carry into their future careers. Not only that, they are having fun — and hopefully that will carry into a lifetime of following their passions and contributing some great designs and innovations to the world.
How do you see 3D design and 3D printing changing the face of education? Share your thoughts with us in the 3D Printing at Oklahoma State University forum over at 3DPB.com.