How 3D Printers are Changing College Drafting and Design Classrooms

About a month ago, Globe University got a shiny new 3D printer for our drafting and design programs3D printers are changing the way college drafting and design programs work.

The Fortus 250mc, built by Eden Prairie-based Stratasys, is an industry-standard machine that enables students to create nearly anything you can imagine.

The device will primarily be used in Globe University’s upper-level courses and help students learn how to use the same technology that is prevalent in the industry.

“It’s going to be a key component of our digital fabrication class,” said Paul Klevann, chair of Globe University’s mechanical engineering technology program.

Using ABSplus thermoplastic, students can:

  • Develop prototypes
  • Do reverse engineering of products
  • Conduct research and development
  • Design and develop their own projects
  • Build architectural models

In addition to giving students an inside look at the latest drafting and design technology, the 3D printer is also useful for instructors, who can create their own tools for class and build plastic teaching aids.

For example, an instructor could have the printer build a three-dimensional example of something found in a textbook, Klevann said.

The creations help students visualize what they’re working on, allowing for hands-on applied learning, according to John Hartman, architectural drafting and design program chair.

The Fortus 250mc will see more integration in classrooms lessons starting this summer, and could eventually be used across several programs, Hartman said.

Globe University has a new 3D printer.

With Globe University’s new 3D printer are Paul Klevann (left), mechanical engineering technology program chair, and John Hartman, architectural drafting and design program chair.

The 3D printer could be used to make the skull of a cat for use in a veterinary technology class, and the Fortus could also produce parts of the skeletal structure for a health sciences course, Hartman said.

Using computer-aided design (CAD) software, students simply create a design, import it into the 3D printer and watch the design come to life.

During production, the heated plastic goes to an extrusion head and is deposited in layers to create the item.

From prototyping to end-product digital manufacturing, 3D printers have turned virtual images into tangible parts, products and devices in college classrooms across the country, and the new Fortus is a nice upgrade to Globe University’s 3D printing technology, Hartman said.

The machine can help spark creativity in students and allow them to hold, test and modify their ideas in real life.