As 3D modeling is becoming increasingly more important in almost every industry, students need a formal opportunity to learn 3D modeling skills. 3D printing provides an inexpensive way of creating customizable tools, equipment, and supplies as well as a fast way of prototyping parts for machinery and systems. As 3D printing technology decreases in price and increases in precision, breadth of application, and material variety, more industries will move towards 3D printing to help solve their problems.

Student working with a 3D printer

TSM 499 (3D Modeling and Printing) combines these two topics to teach students the basics of how to model and print useful items such as brackets, cellphone stands, gears, hydroponics system components, and keychains. This 8-week course, developed and taught for the first time in the fall 2021 semester by M.S. student Travis Johnson, was the first exposure to 3D modeling and printing for many TSM students. Students spent the first five weeks of the course learning the basics of 3D modeling using Fusion 360, followed by three weeks of 3D printing in our new 3D Printing Lab.  The course culminated with students modeling and printing their final projects, which included cell phone cases and stands, small shelving units, a jewelry stand, soda can holder with lid, succulent planter, camera lens holder, sunglasses case, and other useful items.  At least one student has already purchased their own 3D printer as a result of taking this course and plans to start a small side business selling 3D printed items. Another student said, “I’m so glad this class is being offered now.  It was one of my favorite classes I have taken. I will definitely be printing more things in the future and may even buy my own printer for myself!”

TSM students who have completed this course are equipped with yet one more tool to solve real-world problems for industry.  In a program that focuses on innovative, practical, and applied problem-solving using technology and management, every tool in a student’s arsenal helps them become even more attractive and valuable to future employers.