Engineers to Debut 3-D Printer

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(Courtesy of The Daily 49er)

The Objet 30 3-D printer uses cutting-edge technology to create high resolution, physical models from computer-aided design programs. The resulting models feature strong materials, small moving parts, thin walls and smooth, paintable services.

The College of Engineering will soon have a new 3-D printer, allowing students and faculty to create models of their work using plastics and other types of materials.

The Objet 30 printer is a newer, better version of the engineering department’s current 3-D printer, according to Hamid Hefazi, mechanical and aerospace engineering chair.

The mechanical and aerospace engineering department (MAE) will use the printer in a number of required courses that focus on computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM).

Christiane Beyer, associate professor in the MAE department, uses 3-D printers and other manufacturing technology to teach her CAD/CAM class.

“This Additive-Manufacturing technology is an excellent addition to our newly established laboratory with cutting-edge technologies,” she said via email. “It will provide superior educational opportunities to our students, particularly in their capstone design projects as well as many qualified research projects.”

Students working on design projects such as gearboxes, automobile parts, rocket parts or airplane parts will complete their models using the printer. It works layer by layer to build a functional 3-D model part after the dimensions are created using computer software.

“The printer, aside from being more accurate, uses a different type of material to build the part,” Hefazi said. “The parts built by the previous printer were not really functional. This one uses plastic, and you can actually use the part. It’s functional.”

The printer was purchased using a $50,000 grant from the DENSO North American Foundation, and is expected to arrive in early October. It will be the newest addition to the Automotive, Research, Development and Education Laboratory.

“I think the 3-D printer will add more depth to the computer-aided design lab,” said Kyle King, senior mechanical engineering major. “It’s something other schools don’t have, and more students will want to attend CSULB because it’s something a lot of schools don’t offer.”

This printer is also faster and more accurate than older models. It is an expansion of the rapid prototyping laboratory.

“Up to now, what you would do is you would design a model and see it on the computer, but you didn’t have an actual physical model to see how it works and functions,” Hefazi said. “This device, the 3-D printer, actually makes a physical model of your computer design.”

Rapid prototyping the technique used to quickly create a model using data from a computer-aided design program, which is how the printer functions. The MAE department is in the process of expanding the lab, according to Hefazi.

“Rapid prototyping is an emerging technology of tremendous potential,” Hefazi said in a press release. “By funding the MAE department’s acquisition of this additive-manufacturing system, DENSO has empowered our faculty and students with the ability to engage in state-of-the-art research and development projects in this arena.”

The DENSO North America Foundation was established in January 2010, as an extension of the DENSO Corporation in Japan. The foundation awards grants to colleges and universities throughout North America in an effort to advance higher education in engineering and related programs, and to develop a skilled and knowledgeable workforce.

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