Integrating CAD and additive learning into general education

Digital design and manufacturing has become increasingly relevant in a, sometimes surprisingly, eclectic mix of industries. In dentistry, fashion, manufacturing itself or any other of the plethora of industries that have evolved with the integration of 3D printing, it’s apparent that an understanding of additive manufacturing and the skills to create 3D printable designs in CAD software are now a necessity.

It’s important, then, as industries increasingly depend on digital design that students are given the opportunity to learn this crucial aspect of many industries as they study.

Enterprising educators are already getting ahead of the curve. At TH Wildau – Wildau, Germany’s Technical University of Applied Sciences – instructors have developed structures to teach non-technical students the fundamentals of CAD and additive manufacturing. They secure students’ understanding of what has become a cornerstone in many industries at a crucial time in their education. Under the instruction of teachers like Dr. Dana Mietzner, students from disciplines as broad as business management, law, and business informatics learn about CAD and additive manufacturing processes in detail.

“Students start to think about future fields of application of 3D technology,” Mietzner said. “They try to figure out what the status of the technology is today and what could be future fields of application. For that purpose, it’s very important for the students to understand the technology – how it works and what is behind the concept of 3D printing.”

Understanding 3D printing as a physical process is incredibly important to learning CAD software. Designers using CAD need to understand what the various kinds of 3D printers are physically capable of to ensure that even the complex geometries, achievable only with additive, are designed with best practices in mind for an optimal outcome. This kind of understanding can inform designers about which method of additive manufacturing they should use for an application, like deciding between FFF and SLA technologies for an application, or when it might be better to opt for traditional reductive methods like CNC instead.

Not only will understanding the best production method for a CAD model help in designing processes, creating a design that’s conducive to successful printing, but it will help future business leaders in the disciplines Dr. Mietzner teaches understand when a process can be done with more cost and time efficiency. For example, introducing additive in favor of traditional supply chains can drastically alter how a business chooses to source parts. As more businesses move to additive manufacturing to produce end-use parts, this is increasingly important.

There’s a wealth of other disruptions additive manufacturing is causing to traditional business models and it’s vital for future leaders to understand these implications to make choices for their success. Accessible manufacturing is enabling businesses with smaller financial backing to enter production without massive investment, highly personalized products can enter the market without prohibitive price tags, and traditional workflows are being optimized with 3D printed tooling.

Clearly, it’s paramount to the future of successful businesses that there is a healthy understanding of the additive process, and therefore CAD, in a wealth of disciplines.

Learn the benefits of Large-Format Additive with our
Guide to Integrate Large-Format Additive Manufacturing.

As industries continue to evolve additive manufacturing is becoming more pervasive, making many niche applications require very specific expertise. The boom of 3d printing within the medical field serves as an excellent example of this. The medical industry was an early adopter of additive manufacturing, leveraging SLA long before it was an accessible technology. Today, a plethora of companies are racing to develop 3D printable replacement body parts as intricate as organs. To achieve such a novel goal, the initial model’s designer would not only need extensive practice with CAD software but also with anatomical design, likely benefitting from a background as a medical practitioner or as a medical illustrator.

While less demanding artistically than the design of anatomically correct organs, a common use of mainstream FFF additive technology is the design and creation of highly customizable orthopedics. Here, an extensive background in kinesiology is a must-have for any designer creating the model. For a brace to be effective, extensive knowledge of the part of the body being mended is completely necessary – form the position that best aids the healing process to the potential risks of an incorrect placement.

Without experience in additive manufacturing and CAD software, the design of these products would require extensive extra steps and risks design instructions being lost in translation.

A plethora of prominent institutions have developed prototyping-focus’ within their courses, with classes and labs being used as an accessible space for learners to transform their ideas into reality. The most effective utilize technologies that allow for broad applications – a goal that large-format additive is uniquely positioned to address. For future-ready institutions that prepare learners for careers of dynamic change with relevant knowledge and life-long skills, additive manufacturing has proven to be an effective investment for those taking aim at superior teaching and experimentation, for a variety of disciplines.

Find out how prominent institutions like TH Wildau, targeting additive learnings beyond engineering students, and other are using BigRep’s additive technology to prepare their students in BigRep’s Guide to Large-Format for Education and Research.

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