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How 3D Printing Is Being Used by College and University Engineering Students

How 3D Printing Is Being Used by College and University Engineering Students

3d printing

3D printing has taken the world by storm. Everyone from hobbyists to industry professionals is beginning to dabble in this new form of additive manufacturing. Even the astronauts on the International Space Station have a 3D printer that they use to create new tools and items that they need but might not have on hand.
Unsurprisingly, 3D printers have also started to make an appearance in engineering degree programs. How are college and university engineering students using 3D printers as they work toward their degrees?

Tracking Crack Formation

What do the crack in your windshield and the crack in a natural gas pipe have in common? At first glance, not much, unless you're an engineering student at Purdue's Rock Physics Research Group.
This group is using 3D printers to study fracture formation in various types of minerals — something that's essential to the natural gas industry. Knowing how a rock might crack or fracture when impacted can help engineers in the industry make smart decisions about the best way to harvest natural gas without damaging the environment.
The problem with testing fracture formations in the past was that it relied on naturally occurring stone formations. Each one has its own unique features that could change the outcome of the test. Usually a specially designed 3D printer, the engineering students can print rocks out of gypsum that have the same features each time.

Helping Hometown Heroes

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the need for additive manufacturing into sharp relief. Everyone with a 3D printer — from college students to mature hobbyists — is putting them to use making things that medical professionals and other hometown heroes need to fight the pandemic.
Engineering students at Cal State Long Beach have started using the school's 3D printers — available to the campus' Maker's Club — to create face shields to protect medical workers and first responders who are fighting the virus on the front lines.
If you have a 3D printer and are looking for a way to help but don't have the means or the supplies to print face shields, consider putting your printer to use creating ear savers. These are plastic loops that are worn on the back of the head and secure the elastic ear loops from N95 and surgical masks to protect the back of the ear.

Engineering 3D-Printed MedTech

Engineers aren't just needed to create bridges and buildings. They make an appearance in nearly every industry, including medicine. In this case, engineering students are looking at potential applications for 3D printing in the creation of custom implants and other medtech items. Using CT and MRI scans, medtech engineering students can create exact copies of a patient's body parts.
One potential application is to create a porous metal bone to replace a diseased one in a patient's body. Over time, the metal could dissolve, allowing new healthy bone to grow in its place.
One material that is emerging in the realm of 3D printing for medical uses is polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE. This high-quality material can withstand temperatures from -400° to 500° F. It's flexible, corrosion-resistant and works well in all sorts of applications. It's also FDA-compliant, which makes it ideal for building 3D printers for designing the medtech devices that will change and save lives in the future.

Maps for the Visually Impaired

Traditional paper maps are generally not designed with the visually impaired in mind. This often makes it difficult for otherwise independent individuals to navigate and increases their reliance on others. Engineering students at the Rutger's University School of Engineering are hoping to bridge that gap with the use of 3D printers. They've created 3D-printed Braille maps of the school for visually impaired students.
This particular map design only features the different floors of the Joseph Kohn Training Center, but it could easily be expanded to include any location that either has a 3D scan or a digital representation that could be translated into a 3D printing program.

The Future of 3D Printing in Engineering

3D printing is quickly becoming one of the most versatile forms of manufacturing. As technology continues to advance and become more affordable, we'll likely see more examples of 3D printing and the full breadth of this technology as new generations of engineers make their way through related degree programs.

Emily is an environmental writer who covers topics in sustainability, renewable energy and technology. To read more of her work, check out her blog, Conservation Folks.

About Author:

I am Thomas Britto here to share my experiences in the civil engineering field to all my readers.Today many students are struggling to buy books at high prices. So I decided to start a blog and share my experience and knowledge with all my readers.

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