October 20, 2017 at 10:15am
Dane Lisser

Millikin students introduced to 3D Printing Technologies

3D printing is an emerging technology that is continuing to grow and gain interest in a variety of fields.

This fall semester, Dr. Kyle Knust, assistant professor of chemistry at Millikin University, is leading an honors seminar course on 3D printing. The course covers all topics related to 3D printing technology, including 3D scanning.

Millikin 3D Printing

With support from the Coleman Foundation, Dr. Knust introduced the course to the Millikin curriculum for the fall 2017 semester. Throughout the semester, students are learning computer-aided design software and engaging in hands-on opportunities with a variety of 3D printing technologies.

"Our focus has been taking an idea in their mind and turning it into a three-dimensional model on their computer, and then transitioning that to a physical model using 3D printing technology," Dr. Knust said.

What makes the course unique is diversity; many students from different majors are enrolled in the course who are learning 3D printing for the first time.

"It's a diverse class with many different majors, but there seems to be application for 3D printing in several different majors," Dr. Knust said. "Earlier in the semester, the students presented on an application of their interest. A theatre major discussed how 3D printing is being used for lighting design, and a future cardiologist discussed how we might print heart valves in the future. It has a lot of application."

The students' first project was to design the Millikin "M" logo with each student having to customize the logo in some way. Some of the students added designs, such as music notes, on top of the Millikin "M" using Fusion 360 software.

"3D printing has always been interesting to me," said Nicole Wiltjer, a sophomore music major from Tinley Park, Ill. "At first, modeling in 3D space can be hard because everyone is used to drawing on two-dimensional space. You have to think about everything from front to back and side to side. Watching the project come to life on the printer is great because you watch it develop from the bottom up."

Millikin 3D Printing

Later in the semester, the students will use a stereolithography printer and utilize different technology to make their next print. The students work on their projects in the Leighty-Tabor Science Center as well as the New Technologies Lab in the University Commons.

"We're fortunate to have five fused deposition modeling printers available to the students, one stereolithography printer and a 3D scanner," Dr. Knust said.

Millikin 3D Printing

The course will also incorporate an entrepreneurial theme culminating with team-developed projects allowing the students to bring an entrepreneurial idea to fruition.

"It's a very hands-on class with a lot of real-world time with the printers," Dr. Knust said. "The students print their designs and it may not work the first time. If it fails, they have to go back and discuss what kind of change they need to make to allow the print to be completed. One of the things the students have learned is that it's not just one-click print – the technology is still developing. There's a learning curve associated with it."  

Millikin 3D Printing

Dr. Knust added, "Right now there is quite a bit of expediential growth with 3D printing and to have these skills in terms of 3D modeling will be advantageous in a variety of different fields for students' future careers."