3D printing comes to SHSU
Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2013 00:09
Three-dimensional printing, once a distant concept, is becoming the next industrial step in manufacturing industries, business marketing strategies and now Sam Houston State University.
Three-dimensional printing has become a regular choice among manufacturers ,according to Engatec, over more traditional design practices. They allow manufacturers to build more design prototypes efficiently. It offers better collaboration resulting in better design manufacturability. It enables designers to discover potential design flaws. It also allows businesses to sell new concepts with realistic prototypes, according to Engatec.
Faruk Yildiz, Ph.D., assistant professor of industrial technology, said he is excited about the department’s recent acquisition of the printer. He explained this allows the department to “teach, research, and recruit” in one go.
“Our classes require projects during the semester, so we can print them and hand them to the students,” he said. “I see it as an excellent recruiting tool because during our programs students come to visit us and get to see examples come to life. It piques their interest and gets them more interested in our program.”
Yildiz talked more in depth about the research aspect.
“As for research, I had an idea involving an air conditioning project,” Yildiz said. “The exhaust fans from A/C condensers blow out a lot of wasted energy. So, I wanted my students to design a wind turbine to capture the wasted energy, starting with them making their own fan blades.
He said that kind of construction project would take several weeks to complete because the parts would need to be made out of metal or wood. With the new printer, it would make the process easier and faster.
“It is very time consuming and prototypes have to be constantly re-evaluated,” Yildiz said. “So, we couldn’t do that. But with the 3-D printer we can now create prototypes within an hour or two and test it.”
While the 3-D printer is here on campus, it has not yet been built. Yildiz said that the infrastructure needs to be implemented before the technicians from Engatec and Stratasys can begin installing the printer in the agriculture building’s soil lab. This is located in the Agriculture Complex on Avenue M.
The reason why it must be installed in the soil lab is because the 3-D printer also comes with a high-pressure water jet that cleans off the finished models. Yildiz said that the soil lab is the only location that has water supply sufficient enough for the jet to operate.
Training will be required in order to operate the new machinery. According to SHSU’s bid with Engatec/Stratasys, a minimum of four hours of training is needed. Yildiz will oversee the training for the 3-D printer. The training has not been set up at this time.
No new courses will be introduced along with the printer. All of the current courses under engineering will just integrate its use. For now it will not be open for public use.