Image courtesy of 3D Printr Magazine.
It is no secret that 3D printing has been transforming the manufacturing and design processes of many businesses, especially as it gains popularity and adoption across numerous industries. Along with other emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, and robotics, 3D printing is forecasted to dominate in the coming years, creating disruptions in the manufacturing landscape. In support of this forthcoming industry change, a number of educational institutions have been gearing up to prepare students for what is best described as the “Factory of the Future” - one of these institutions is the Santa Monica College (SMC) Continuing Education.
As part of its professional development program, the Santa Monica College adopted the innovative technology of 3D printing by offering a 3D printing course open to anyone who wants to learn more about it. Launched last October, the program’s objective is to promote the knowledge of the technology broadly within the community. "Our primary objective in offering 3D printing to everyone at the community college level is to help promote the knowledge and capability of this exciting technological development. We truly feel 3D printing will create many new jobs, entrepreneurial enterprises, and exciting new product developments for many other industries,” says Gregory van Zuyen, longtime instructor at Santa Monica College.
As with any learning setting, it is important that a classroom be equipped with the right machines and tools that can truly serve the needs of its users– teachers and students alike. Choices must be based on a careful evaluation of actual needs. As for the team at SMC, their decision was based on an aggregated list of features, cost, customer support as well as support for open-source initiatives - factors which brought them to Type A Machines. “In the end we chose the Series 1 Pro for their extensive feature set: the cubic foot build volume, and the easy-to-use G2 extruder. Also, it is incredibly reliable mechanically,” Gregory shared with us.
Learning 3D Printing with the Series 1 Pro
The 3D printing course at SMC is a six-week intensive program which focuses on developing the skills of students in computer-aided design (CAD) modeling for 3D printing using Onshape for 3D modeling and Cura Type A for slicing and preparing 3D prints. Students learn to create models from scratch, and bring their ideas to life via 3D printing. Gregory also added that the combination of the professional usability of the Series 1 Pro and the user-focused Cura Type A has been a great help in giving their students the broadest knowledge base on using other 3D printers in general. By being responsible for bed leveling and filament feed, as well as learning the Cura slicing software, students obtain the necessary skills to perform successful prints on their own.
Other than learning CAD systems, the course also aims to teach students how to assess a 3D printer. Because of the large build volume of the Series 1 Pro, according to Gregory, “students have come to learn the importance of a sizable build envelope in shopping for a printer. They are listening intently when we discuss the variety of printers available and they are also keen to ask about materials when considering a purchase.” In addition, our support for accessible source also gives the students the freedom to modify and experiment with the machine. This means more opportunities to truly engage themselves with the technology, participate in finding ways on how it can be improved, and optimize it to its full potential as they learn what works for their needs and what doesn’t.
Gregory also shared with us that the extent of objects printed are as varied as the students taking the course. With backgrounds ranging from the movie industry, architecture, business and so forth, students from the 3D printing class have printed objects such as shaving brush handles, skateboard trucks, and architectural renderings.
King James Tower by James O'Connor. Image courtesy of Santa Monica College Continuing Education.
"Now that we are offering classes in 3D printing, we are giving the community the tools to build their creations themselves."
When asked about his personal thoughts on the role of 3D printing in education, Gregory van Zuyen has this to say: "A motto we have here at Santa Monica College Continuing Education is 'The more successful you are, the more successful we all are.' Our commitment to the community to give them the tools they need to realize their dreams only improves our community and the future prospects of all of us. Now that we are offering classes in 3D printing, we are giving the community the tools to build their creations themselves. We have prospective students saying to us, 'I have this invention in my head. I need 3D printing to make it happen!' And this is exactly why we feel this program is so valuable. Without it, those inventions would remain trapped inside the student's imagination and we would never know how that creation might make our whole world a better place."
3D printing is a potent driving force for innovation today. The ability to translate one’s ideas into physical forms, and the speed and quality of which they can be made are changing how we manufacture products in ways we have never been able to do before. Providing an avenue for the public to learn and master 3D printing, similar to the program at Santa Monica College, surely will only fuel the creativity that will be instrumental in developing solutions for tomorrow.
Want to learn more about 3D printing for education? Visit: https://www.typeamachines.com/3d-printing-for-educators