Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT) has become a beacon of innovation for its adoption of additive manufacturing. After successfully launching a 3D printing course last fall, based on the free Stratasys curriculum “Make Something That Moves Something,” WIT created a rapid prototyping course integrating Stratasys’ FDM and PolyJet 3D printing technologies.
The interdisciplinary course challenged 65 students from industrial design, mechanical engineering and manufacturing studies to develop a functional hexacopter ‘drone’ using six different manufacturing processes: CNC turning, CNC milling, resin casting, vacuum forming, laser cutting and 3D printing. More than 95% of the 3D printed components were produced using the Stratasys uPrint SE and Objet30 3D Printers.
“Our design was very influenced by 3D printing,” said Nathan Ouellette, a senior at WIT. “It offered a unique aspect to our design, where we were able to control something in three dimensions, as opposed to just milling it in two dimensions. It offers you a whole new path to prototyping.”
According to assistant professor and mechanical engineer, Stephen Chomyszak, 3D printing enabled students to iterate custom designs to accommodate electrical components without the use of additional screws, brackets or fasteners to secure the delicate internal parts. This was an integral part of reducing the overall weight of the design and eliminating production and assembly processes.
“To be able to design something and then immediately have it in front of you, you’re able to see what you did right, what you did wrong and how you can improve it,” said Ouellette. “It’s something that you can’t do with most manufacturing processes, particularly with this amount of detail.”
Ouellette, like many students in the course, demonstrated a wealth of knowledge in 3D printing as a result of his experience in Wentworth’s 3D printing course last fall. “Having an entire semester to learn about the processes of 3D printing—learning about the two technologies, the different printers and materials used—really prepared me to understand the capabilities of 3D printing and how extensive we could get.”
“We are seeing a global arms race emerging for engineering and advanced manufacturing skills. This is requiring institutions to focus on graduating students with a full spectrum of career ready skills,” said Sig Behrens, General Manager of Global Education, Stratasys. “One key way of making this a reality is for students to engage in project based learning initiatives, like what WIT has committed to and Stratasys has supported.”
Click here to see additional photos of the students’ hexacopter designs.
This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil)