Today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce, and as we have recently seen with Jefferson Health and Morrison Tech, 3D printing in education is a big deal right now. Additive manufacturing is being used to enhance student learning and improve courses by introducing practical application to theory-based learning. Oklahoma University and Purdue University are two institutions using 3D printing for just that. Here's how they're doing it:
Oklahoma University is using 3D printing to introduce the practical application of additive manufacturing to students. In the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology (CEAT) engineering students have access to five makerspace locations and five design laboratories. Markforged 3D printers (two Onyx Pros, two Mark Twos, an X7, and a Metal X) can be found here. They support 38 courses and hundreds of students.
“What you can get away with using additive manufacturing - you can't with subtractive manufacturing." says Dr. Brad Rowland, ENDEAVOR Manager of Operations at Oklahoma State University. "The ease of additive manufacturing accelerates the student’s ability to go from concept to parts. However, our job is to teach students both additive and subtractive manufacturing, along with the strengths, weaknesses, and interchange between them. I don't want to brag, but we will do this across the College of Engineering Architecture and Technology (CEAT) starting a student’s freshman year.”
Students use the composite 3D printers to manufacture a wide range of models and parts and tools, from remote-controlled carts to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. "We already have two student-designed products in consideration for patents. One of them will rely on the Markforged Mark Two printers to build it,” says Rowland.
The university's decision to invest in Markforged's range of 3D printers came following research into the market and the materials most additive 3D printers print. "Markforged came on our radar because of their Onyx and continuous fiber reinforcement printers. “That's what really got our attention," says Dr. Brad Rowland. The Mark Two is capable of printing Kevlar, carbon fibre, fibreglass and high-temp fibreglass, as well as nylon and Onyx, a part nylon, part chopped carbon fibre hybrid.
When Purdue University founded the Bechtel Innovation Design Center, they did so with a rich history of investing in the latest technologies. 3D printing is a technology they had trialled and used in the past. The introduction of Markforged 3D printers opened up new opportunities for students, enabling them to fabricate parts in composites and metal.
“Students can make pretty much anything they want,” says David McMillin, Assistant Director of the facility. Students have access to 20 3D printers in total, including two Markforged Metal Xs and two Mark Twos. The Metal X is their newest machine, capable of producing parts in solid metal. For this, it uses a powder which is sintered. Parts can be printed in titanium, Inconel, tool steel and stainless steel for a wide range of applications.
“It’s apparent that the industry is pushing very hard on developing and maturing the metal 3D printing technology and that it’s something that people are interested in. Our students, professors, the university, and the world would like to see this technology," says McMillin.
“3D printing is a really good way to introduce and entice people into fabrication with low effort and low risk,” says McMillin. The centre has over 20 student supervisors to assist anyone looking to use additive manufacturing in their projects. “The resolution and fit and finish that you get out of those is superb in comparison [to other printers]. They print reliably and the finish is beautiful straight off the machine. We use the analogy that we’re like a gym. We offer training and we have the equipment, but you have to come in and bring the effort and determination.”
Students have found use of the Metal X in a wide range of projects, including race car knuckle brackets and test targets for the Mach 2 wind tunnel. The Markforged Mark Two fabricates parts to a consistently high quality, allowing students to submit them as part of their coursework. In fact, whenever a project calls for supremely robust parts, the Mark Two is the machine of choice.