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If the mountain won't come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain. Teaching 3D Printing and Materials based on a rolling Lab

Dr Laura Katharina Thurn | Aachen University of Applied Sciences

If the mountain won't come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain. Teaching 3D Printing and Materials based on a rolling Lab

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3D printing is about to revolutionize the way we produce products, thus including not only a new design and production strategy but the evaluation of new materials as well. As the printer is a production tool, it allows to integrate research on new and improved materials not just during the product development but in the education as well. As 3D Printing is an ideal tool to set up a decentralized production, it is one key to integrate even rural/under-industrialized parts of the country into high tech education. But how to reach the relevant groups? Extra training does not fit in the regular timetable of schools nor can a company accept off-hours of their employees to reach the training site. Consequently, rural parts of the country are again on the lose end. Remembering the old proverb: "If the mountain won't come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain" the plan of a rolling printing lab was born.
Based on our experiences, we designed the technical infrastructure and the educational approach to adopt courses to a comprehensive teaching. We developed an upside down approach starting with the discussion of materials and - without deeper teaching - directly making parts on prepared printers. To create a fully fitted workplace for every participant, we redesigned a double-decker bus. The first floor is equipped with a teacher seat and eight computer spaces with all required software and filament printers. Besides that, the bus provides enough different materials in order to set up systematic test rows. Special attention is paid to the behavior of different materials and its contribution to the desired product properties. As an example soft materials and foam structures are printed to teach the characteristics of non rigid products.