Limited knowledge of the fundamental principles, applications, and business implications of additive manufacturing (AM), say MIT and Boeing, is a barrier to its broad and rapid adoption. The online course – Additive Manufacturing for Innovative Design and Production – is designed to help professionals and organizations realize its potential and accelerate its use.
The collaboration in AM education is motivated, say the partners, by the need to scale learning and communicate its potential as a transformative mechanism in the design of parts and products, the definition of their performance, and the ways 3D printing can increase productivity in manufacturing operations. The course curriculum reflects AM’s widespread applicability to any industry involved in the design and manufacture of physical products.
“Additive manufacturing already has important implications throughout the product life cycle, yet, most importantly, we can now envision its use as a mainstream production technique,” says the course director, John Hart, associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT and director of the MIT Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity. “This compels us to accelerate our understanding of the unique advantages of AM, and rethink how we design new parts and products, and the metrics by which we define their importance.”
The nine-week course explores the transformational capabilities of AM in the design, production, and service of products, and investigates its implications in restructuring production workflows and lowering manufacturing costs. It explains leading AM technologies for polymers, metals, and advanced materials; addresses design for AM via both engineering principles and computational design; and includes quantitative models for assessing the cost and value of components made by AM.
The course uses a 3D-printed kit, similar to a textbook, as a reference throughout the course. The kit has metal and polymer parts made by industry-relevant 3D-printing processes, including stereolithography, multi-jet fusion, and direct metal laser sintering. The parts interlock to form a model of MIT’s iconic Building 10 dome (image). The capstone activity of the course is an in-depth case study, which is an opportunity for students to apply their newly acquired technical and strategic knowledge of AM to a real-world problem.
Boeing has been involved in AM for nearly three decades, and is now using it to prototype, test, and manufacture small parts for some aircraft. In addition, the company says, 3D printing is on the verge of use as a mainstream production technology, spurred by the expiration of key patents, availability of advanced digital modeling software, and improved hardware. Improvements in the technology’s accessibility combined with persistent advances in the performance of AM machines and materials are prompting innovation in 3D printing and exponentially increasing its adoption.
“Our educational collaboration with MIT encourages employees to grow professionally and develop new manufacturing skills,” says Michael Richey, chief learning scientist at Boeing. “Through a combination of industry and academic expertise, the additive manufacturing curriculum will equip employees with knowledge of the fundamentals of 3D printing, which has the potential to catalyze widespread change across the manufacturing industry.”
The course starts April 30. For additional information, visit the course website.
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