3D printing unleashes engineering creativity at DV

Mar 21 2017 | 04:38 AM

— Students at Delaware Valley High School can take classes such as Engineering Design and Development, Introduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, Solid Modeling, and Advanced CAD Applications — just a few of the courses that use a 3D printer and software.
Here's a look at some of these cutting-edge courses at DVHS:
Engineering Design and DevelopmentMs. Jessica Hubal co-teaches Engineering Design and Development (EDD), formerly known as Engineering 4, with Mr. Steve Rhule. In this class, students develop a solution to a problem of their choice. They go through a design process that involves making sketches. Once they decide on a sketch, students use Autodesk Inventor software to draw and design their prototype. They fabricate their prototype by using the 3D printer.
As a class last year, Ms. Hubal and Mr. Rhule had students make cookie cutters to refresh their skills on Autodesk Inventor before starting their major prototype. Students were so creative with their cookie cutters, printing 3D designs ranging from Patrick (from SpongeBob) to a dolphin.
Over the years, students have printed many key pieces for their project. There was a student last year who printed a cereal bowl to help prevent soggy cereal. There was also a student who was able to print a stylus pen for his computer project.
Introduction to Engineering Design and Principles of EngineeringMr. Robert Curtis teaches Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) and Principles of Engineering (POE). IED focuses on the process that engineers use to design things — from children's toys to spaceships and everything in between. Students also learn a lot about how to use the computer to help model designs. The course is all about providing the basic tools that any type of engineer would use in his/her work.
POE focuses on more specific methods engineers use to analyze and design things. Students learn about simple and complex machines, gearing systems, electrical circuits and power distribution systems, renewable energy devices such as solar panels and fuel cells, bridges and structural trusses, control systems for robots and manufacturing processes, how materials like steel and wood respond to structural loads and projectile launchers. The students do many hands-on projects to help understand these things, many times using the VEX system.
There is a workshop in their classroom now that has a variety of power tools as well as a CNC machine and a Flashforge Creator Pro 3D printer. Students use these in their classes as well as for Engineering Club projects.
As a supplement to these classes, the Engineering Club allows students to compete on a regional, state, and national level in many engineering and technology related events, including robotics, coding, and engineering problem solving and design. In addition, there are events that are not strictly engineering, like Fashion Design events using recycled materials and making pop-up books for children that teach about STEM.
Solid Modeling/Advanced CAD ApplicationsIn the high school, Mr. Tom Moran and his technology education students use a Dimension uPrint 3D printer. The Solid Modeling students learn how to take precise measurements with a dial caliper and use the machine by reverse engineering and 3D printing a Lego. The tolerances of the student's Lego must be extremely tight because Legos are assembled solely via a press fit, which means they "snap together.”
After sketching and dimensioning the Lego, they will three dimensionally draw it in Autodesk Inventor. That part is then programmed into the Catalyst software, which is the software that drives the uPrint machine.
After the Lego is 3D printed, it is simply assessed by attempting to mate the 3D printed Lego with the original Lego (Lego is a trademark and they are not resold for copy write purposes).
These students also 3D print a random individual part of their choice that they have reverse engineered.
The 3D printer is used more heavily by our Advanced CAD Applications students. They will take their final project from Solid Modeling (complex invention or innovated mechanism). First they have to test its functionality in the Inventor software. They will digitally trouble shoot any issues on the computer in Inventor. After that, they 3D print a working model of the mechanism. That prototype will then be tested for form, fit and function to see if any parts need to be redesigned. In the end, they will have a complete working prototype of their design.
The Advanced CAD Applications students will also perform advanced problem solving projects. These are essentially broken parts from household items, brought in by Delaware Valley teachers. The students will analyze the part, determine its flaw, reverse engineer, redesign, redraw and hopefully 3D print a superior "live" built part.
A live build is a part that comes out of the machine and will be directly used as a working part. Most builds from 3D printers are just prototypes and will be reworked and used as a model for design and mass production.
The district also has access to a small MakerBot Mini 3D printer in that is used in the middle school technology education program. These students use it to make smaller much more simple individual parts. One of those being a custom ring with the student’s personal size and an engraving of his/her design. Even though the machine and the projects are small, the students get a good introduction to 3D printers and their capabilities.