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First rapid prototype class offered at Mizzou

Jian Jiao, a graduate student working in the lab of Associate Professor Jae Wan Kwon in electrical and computer engineering, post-processes one of her 3-D models in the rapid prototyping lab. Post-processing involves using a high-pressure water jet wand to blast away support material used to build the models.

Contracted prototype work from on-campus entities and private companies has allowed the University of Missouri College of Engineering to build a cutting-edge rapid prototype facility that doubles as a teaching lab, allowing MU students to gain experience in cutting-edge technology within the rapidly expanding prototype field.

Mizzou Engineering offered its first prototyping class in the 2012 spring semester, co-taught by Mike Klote, director of engineering technical services, and Luis Occeña, department chair of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering.

“Rapid prototyping is quite powerful in its ability to convert computer solid models of objects into tangible models that satisfy form, fit and function,” said Occeña, adding that,  “products requiring several operations in traditional prototyping can be completed in one additive/layered build operation.”

“There were no prerequisites for the first offering of this class,” said Klote, explaining they decided to open the class up to anyone interested even if they had no computer-aided design (CAD) experience. One of the 24 students taking the class is a business major.

This small, hinged photo frame was the first project students created in the rapid prototyping course.

The first project the class modeled and produced was a small, hinged photo frame, which they were able to customize with a graphic image.

“There is nothing in industry that will build a live one-piece hinge; it is one of the more difficult modeling techniques,” Klote said, explaining that 90 percent of the process is creating a model in the lab’s CAD program, SolidWorks. “Half of the modeling techniques they will need are in this one project. We start at ground zero and work our way up.”

The projects were produced on an Objet Eden 350V machine, which first lays down what Klote calls “a gooey support system.” In what is known as an additive process,  photopolymer resin is applied layer by layer while two UV lights cure each new layer in seconds.

Maren Reinig, a junior in industrial engineering, said she didn’t know what to expect when she signed up for the class, but that it was soon evident how applicable it was in her field. “It’s made me think that I could do this as a job,” she said. “It’s one of the coolest classes I’ve ever taken.”

Other students in the class echoed Reinig’s assessment, calling the class “awesome.”

“It just sounded like something different, and it’s the first time it’s been offered. I like trying something no one has ever done before, and it’s hands-on,” said Aaron Essner, an industrial engineering senior.

Jian Jiao, a graduate student working in the lab of Associate Professor Jae Wan Kwon in electrical and computer engineering, said she decided to take the class after going to an introductory session about it. She realized at once that the process could be used to build a unique mounting for the MEMs device that is part of her research.

“It’s an exciting technique. Many companies are using it globally,” Jiao said.

Klote said he believes that Mizzou Engineering may be the only university program to have a course dedicated strictly to rapid prototyping utilizing a facility with this many machines and formats.  He is getting ready to add a fifth prototype machine — a stereolithography apparatus (SLA) — that will become the backbone of the lab.

“Again, none of this would have been possible if we had not opened our lab up to the rest of the campus and private companies.  It has been the driving force behind our success,” said Klote.  “It has allowed our students access to machines they normally would not see in an academic environment.”

Students in the class will complete six to eight models during the course of the semester, utilizing all of the lab’s capabilities.

Other new courses that were taught 2011-2012:

  • Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Project, Spring 2011, James Noble
  • Dynamic Programming, Spring 2011, Esra Sisikoglu
  • Computational Optimization for Engineers, Spring 2011, Mustafa Sir
  • Supply Chain Design and Management, Fall 2011, Wooseung Jang.
  • Production System Assessment, Fall 2011, James Noble (Thailand study abroad)
  • Maintenance Management, Spring 2012, Kifayah Al-Saffar
  • Project Management for Engineers, Spring 2012, Kifayah Al-Saffar