3D Printing in Higher Education

3D printing is emerging as a key element in all levels of academic and professional research. Regardless of the size or general focus of their institution, members of the world of higher education are finding ways to use 3D printing to complement their work. Below are a few examples of these developments.

Undergraduate 3D Printing

  • The 3D printers in the Lawrence University makerspace have been used for course assignments from a wide range of departments and disciplines. We often write more extensively about subject-specific assignments on our blog page.
  • Five seniors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created the Oreo 3D printing project for their school’s Engineering Open House. They modified an Ultimaker 2 Extended so that it would trace out a person’s initials in cake frosting, Nutella, or pudding on an Oreo.
  • A senior mechanical engineering student and his professor at Rutgers University’s School of Engineering created 3D printed Braille maps for blind and visually impaired students looking to gain skills for college or vocational opportunities.
  • A team of students working on their senior capstone project at Rice University’s School of Engineering developed a testing suite for the effectiveness of 3D printed prosthetic hands.
  • A doctoral candidate at the Drexel College of Arts and Science constructed a biomechanical computer model of the enormous Dreadnoughtus schrani dinosaur skeleton. Using a MakerBot 3D printer, an undergraduate engineering researcher created models of the dinosaur’s bones in order to bring this digital model to life.

3D Printing in Research and Graduate Student Projects

  • Researchers at the University of Michigan partnered with the Belgium-based company Materialise to create an airway splint to prevent the collapse of windpipes in babies with tracheobronchomalacia. This 3D printing technology is bioresorbable; it grows with the babies and eventually dissolves.
  • Scientists at Northwestern University used 3D printing technology to create a prosthetic ovary allowing mice with surgically removed ovaries to bear live young.
  • A group of students at the University of Tokyo developed a 3D printing pen that has the ability to construct large and complex architectural structures.
  • Researchers at the University of Denver designed and 3D-printed a custom heart valve based on CT and MRI scans of the patient.
  • A group of Masters’ Engineering students at the University of Warwick in England created a 3D printed submarine for the European International Submarine Races in July 2016.
  • Researchers at the Heriot-Watt University’s School of Physical Sciences and Engineering in Scotland have constructed a 3D printer that can print delicate stem cell cultures.
  • The Technical University of Berlin opened a student-run 3D printing café to increase the accessibility of this technology for students and the general public.