About the Course

As a follow up to the Rapid Prototyping course, the Additive and Polymer-based Manufacturing class will take a deep dive into more advanced forms of both additive and traditional manufacturing (e.g., injection molding). Due to the accessibility and affordability of polymer-based 3D printing techniques, these technologies will be the focus of the class, and students will be trained to operate the powder bed fusion and vat photopolymerization printers in the Digital Fabrication Lab. However, metal 3D printing will also be discussed in the course.

After meeting the DF-2100 prerequisite, please enroll through YES.

Designing for the Manufacturing Technique

During the computer aided design (CAD) process, students must recognize the strengths and weaknesses of additive and subtractive manufacturing techniques and create their models around these constraints. Further, students should select their manufacturing technique given the material, dimensions, tolerances, and batch size of their part. This course will step through the specifications, material compatibility, and design requirements for all the major forms of Additive Manufacturing:

  • Material Extrusion (Including Bio-Extrusion)
  • Vat Photopolymerization
  • Material Jetting
  • Powder Bed Fusion (Polymer and Metal)
  • Directed Energy Deposition
  • Direct Write Technologies

Generative Design

With traditional manufacturing techniques, designs have been limited by tool clearance. For example, lattice structures are difficult to machine due to internal channels and sharp overhangs that cannot be reached by the cutting tool. However, with the layer-by-layer approach of additive manufacturing a greater range of geometries are possible. A subset of these geometries are organic solids that can be created through a process known as generative design, which is driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning. The design of these organic solids can be constrained by their weight and required mechanical load to produce light-weight parts. This course will use the generative design package in Fusion 360 to create parts, which will be manufactured through powder bed fusion.

Functional Parts and Artistic Creations Made with 3D printing

Scaling Up

Additive manufacturing has been shown to be a superior technology for the mass customization of commercial products (e.g., retainers, hearing aids, and orthopedic implants). However, the production of the same component over-and-over-again is orders of magnitude cheaper with traditional manufacturing techniques (e.g., injection molding), but the startup costs for the tooling and molds is a significant barrier. This course will discuss “rapid tooling,” where 3D printed molds, tools, and aids are used in these established manufacturing techniques to further drive the costs down or overcome supply chain issues. Students will design and 3D print an injection mold and test it on the Digital Fabrication Lab’s injection molding machine.

Download the Syllabus Here


Reach out to course instructor David Florian at [email protected]

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Course instructor David Florian next to a 3D printer that he built. Students will use this 3D printer and others in the Digital Fabrication Makerspace during the course.