How Two Universities Prioritize Additive Manufacturing Technology
We often write about the different tools, fixtures, and production parts that so many companies around the world use Markforged technology to fabricate. But it’s not just businesses that benefit from additive manufacturing.
Universities are starting to forge the path for students to learn about 3D printers and where they best fit into a manufacturing process. From concept to design to production, 3D printers aid in all necessary steps in creating functional parts. Here’s how two universities are utilizing Markforged technology to teach students about the value of additive manufacturing.
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Oklahoma State University
“What you can get away with using additive manufacturing - you can't with subtractive manufacturing. 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.”
At Oklahoma State University in the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology (CEAT) engineering students have access to the ENDEAVOR facility. ENDEAVOR is a 72,000 ft undergraduate facility with 12 laboratories, five makerspace locations, and five design laboratories – plus offices and other non-lab spaces. In total, 1,500-2,000 students use the facility each year, and supports 38 courses from eight engineering departments.
Among all the industrial equipment dedicated to train the future engineering workforce in ENDEAVOR, there sits two Onyx Pros, two Mark Twos, an X7, and a Metal X. "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, ENDEAVOR Manager of Operations at Oklahoma State University.
Rowland says he hopes the Metal X will help to differentiate OSU’s students from others. “The ability for students to print in metal would be a huge boom for student design projects,” says Rowland.
Students currently use the composite printers for various projects, ranging from remote-controlled carts to special Unmanned Aerial Vehicle projects. “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.
ENDEAVOR provides students with the ability to go from concept to part-in-hand, often making parts that are unable to be created using traditional manufacturing – or parts that blend subtractive, additive, and other techniques such as casting.
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“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.”
Purdue University founded Bechtel Innovation Design Center — an advanced prototyping facility and manufacturing center started by students, for students. “Students can make pretty much anything they want,” says David McMillin, Assistant Director of the facility.
The center has students using 3D printers for everything from electric skateboards to electric racing cars. The available technology is free for all students — of which there are 400,000 of them. Students have the opportunity to use 20 cloud-enabled 3D printers, including two Markforged Metal Xs and two Mark Twos, as well as traditional manufacturing equipment such as CNC mills, CNC lathes, and a full wood shop. The idea behind the center is to have students come in, try their hand at creating something, and drive a product from idea to actualization.
“3D printing is a really good way to introduce and entice people into fabrication with low effort and low risk,” says McMillin. The center has over 20 student supervisors to assist anyone looking to use additive manufacturing for their project. McMillin says the Mark Two’s carbon infill control is something students enjoy the most. “The resolution and fit and finish that you get out of those is superb in comparison. They print reliably and the finish is beautiful straight off the machine.”
Students have found several uses for the Metal X printer, currently capable of printing in 17-4 Stainless Steel and H13 Tool Steel. The Metal X has been used to print race car knuckle brackets for holding rod ends in a race car, as well as a Mach 2 wind tunnel test target. “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.“
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