Updated 6-14-16
Bruce McDowell's Classes and Reference Information
 
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Summer 2016 class
CMT 155 Special topics: 3D printing for creative media

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"My NMSU" Web Site NMSU-Grants Web Site 
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What is 3D Printing?
3D printing is a means of making physical objects from a computer file created by 3D modeling software. Plastic, metal, porcelain, and even chocolate are some of the many materials used. The college's 3D printers are filament printers that create objects out of plastic. These printers are like computer-controlled hot-glue guns that squirt plastic instead of glue. Filament on a spool is fed into a heated nozzle. The filament looks exactly like weed-whacker line.

Just as in the early days of personal computers, today's 3D printers are just the tip of the iceberg. The changes to our society will almost certainly be as profound as those that occurred when personal computers became popular.

In the early days of the personal computer, people took classes to prepare them for jobs as word processing specialists. Of course, it wasn't long before knowing how to use a word processor became an essential skill for just about any kind of desk job. Also in these early days, most people thought that computers were only good for word processing and making spreadsheets. 3D printing is already evolving in ways that few predicted when they first were invented. They're even used to make custom chocolates and cake decorations!

One of the main uses for 3D printing is in rapid prototyping. Before the advent of numerically-controlled milling machines (a precursor to 3D printing), engineers sometimes had to wait weeks before their design was turned into hardware by machinists. Numerically-controlled milling greatly speeded up this process, but such machines are expensive and require significant skill to operate. With 3D printing, engineers can have their designs converted into hardware in a matter of hours. A significant difference between numerically-controlled milling and 3D printing is that milling is a subtractive process, with a great deal of waste. 3D printing is an additive process with almost no waste.

For many fields, 3D printing is destined to become a basic job skill, just as has happened with word processing, etc.



Web Sites for Past Courses

General electronics Web links