For students in the Engineering Drafting & Design program, applying these sought-after skills also involves extensive practical experience on the college’s 3D printers. “Students spend their first year learning the basics of (blue)print reading and SolidWorks software,” said Alex Wong, the engineering, drafting and design instructor. “In the second year, we get into application problems and we do a lot of 3D printing where students use real-world applications to solve design problems and create new products.” Hands-on coursework includes weed whip and golf putter design projects that teach students manufacturing processes. Students also learn how to leverage 3D printing during the product development process by verifying concepts, validating designs and testing.
“During the weed whip project, one team of students designed their prototype with a handguard,” Wong said. “Their CAD model looked good, but when they 3D printed it and held it in their hand, they found it was too small and not user-friendly. But with our 3D printers, they were able to make a quick design change.” The golf putter design project, streamlined with Dunwoody’s 3D printers, pushes students to research, innovate and refine concepts within the strict parameters of the United States Golf Association. “Without a 3D printer, the lesson would have to be executed using hand-cut wood models,” said Wong. “3D printing accelerates the lesson, focusing students on the design and engineering, rather than personal craftsmanship. And students can use more complex geometry and curves because they are not limited to what they can do with subtractive methods and hand tools.”