Recent advance of additive manufacturing has allowed the integration of multiple mechanical engineering fields, including design, materials, mechanics, and manufacturing, for enhanced experiential learning and education. This paper reports the education projects and programs being developed at the University of Oklahoma to improve undergraduate mechanical engineering education using 3D printing, emphasizing three core topics: design, solid mechanics, and manufacturing. The interaction of design, materials, solid mechanics, and manufacturing is carried out at two different scales: the coupon level and product level. At the coupon level, mechanical testing samples, such as dogbone samples, are 3D printed using filament deposition modeling (FDM) method following ASTM standards. Nanoparticles, such as zinc oxide nanoparticles, are integrated within the 3D printing filament so that the mechanical properties of raw materials are tailored. By controlling the 3D printing parameters, the manufactured samples have various microstructures and mechanical behavior. Standard mechanical tests following the ASTM standards are carried out to verify the variation of mechanical properties by controlling material formulation and 3D printing parameters. Students obtain hands-on experience in 3D printing and enhance their understanding of the relationship of manufacturing on structural properties and solid mechanics concepts. At the product level, students practice the design of complex mechanical engineering structures by creating novel and complex engineering structures, such as artificial prosthetic hands, and visualize their design by 3D printing and assembly their design into a final product. The design of individual parts and selection of critical parameters, such as tolerance, decides the 3D printability and easiness of assembly. The 3D printing parameters, such as printing speed and printing direction, impact the quality and overall performance of the manufactured product. The testing of manufactured products provides detailed feedback to the design and 3D printing, which are useful for the design optimization and improvement in the following design and manufacturing cycle. This paper reports students learning outcomes from both mechanics and component level. More reliable external evaluation will be adopted once more data on the student learning outcomes are obtained.
Are you a researcher? Would you like to cite this paper?
Visit the ASEE document repository at
for more tools and easy citations.