Experimenting with Rapid Prototyping - Jim Flowers

Experimenting with
Rapid Prototyping
and Something Called
Custom Intersections
Dr. Jim Flowers
Technology Education Program
Ball State University
Rapid Prototyping Technology can
• Help your students make
professional-quality products
without all those skills
• Make a link between digital
designs and physical objects
• Allow students to make
successive changes to designs,
and then see the effects of
those changes
• Produce parts needed for
larger assemblies
Ball State’s Rapid Prototyping Lab
Technologies Include
3D Laser
Laser Cutting & Engraving
CAD/CAM Milling
Computer Numerical Control Turning
(NC Lathe)
Color Solid
Other Technologies in the RP Lab
• Tensile tester
• Coordinate measuring machine
• Plastics granulator, drier, and filament
• Manual fabrication tools
• Vacuum formers
But RP technologies can also support
student experimentation.
• They allow the user to control several
variables and perform repeated builds
changing only the levels of independent
• There is so much we really don’t know, and
experimentation can help us find the answers.
For example: Optimizing Laser Settings
Focal Point
Pulses per inch
Lines per inch
An Experimental Approach to…
Orr, T., & Flowers, J. (2014). An experimental approach to… everything! Technology
& Engineering Teacher, 73(8), 8-12.
Determining the effect of FDM build
orientation on tensile strength (T. Orr)
Hey Jim, can you 3D print
onto cloth? (Rene Church)
• Kyle Samuels, a student in
a graduate course on
Inquiries into Rapid
Prototyping, at Ball State
found out.
Samuels, K., & Flowers, J. (In Press). Can your students 3D print
onto cloth? Technology and Engineering Teacher.
attempt on
100% cotton
with a simple
Successful build test at
material’s surface
Post wash test
Can you make 3D
printer filament?
Orr, T., & Flowers, J. (In Press). Learning through plastic filament extrusion. Technology
and Engineering Teacher.
Image from www.filastruder.com
Slide 1
Image from www.filabot.com
Can you use RP to create
Flexographic Image Carriers?
Dr. Renmei Xu
Flowers, J., & Xu, R. (April, 2011). Exploring a connection: Prototyping graphic image
carriers. Technology and Engineering Teacher e, 70(7), 1-6.
Xu, R. & Flowers, J. C. (2009). Flexographic platemaking using rapid prototyping
technologies. FlexoGlobal, 2 (1), 24-30.
Flexo- Image Carriers from
Powdered Solid Object Printing?
Flexo- Image Carriers
from FDM?
Flexo- Image Carriers
from Laser Engraving?
Can you laser-etch
an intaglio plate?
Xu, R., Londt, S., & Flowers, J. (2013). The effects of laser-engraving settings on
cliché etch depth and pad printing quality. Journal of Print and Media Technology
Research, 2(1), 29-35.
Can you laser-etch
an intaglio plate?
Can you laser-etch an intaglio plate?
Yes, but what are the effects of laserengraving settings on cliché etch depth
and pad printing quality?
Can lasers be used
to create stencils?
Xu, R., Londt, S. C., Kellogg, H. P. (2010).
Evaluation of different stencilmaking
methods for screen printing (pp. 228-242).
Sewickley, PA: Proceedings of TAGA 62nd
Annual Technical Conference.
Can lasers be used to create stencils?
Yes, but what is the effect of…
Can you Upcycle
with a laser?
Xu, R., Flowers, J. (2011). Engineering a
greener process: Laser cutter transforms
printing waste. Tech Directions, 71(2), 2023.
Can you Upcycle with a laser?
Can you Upcycle
with a laser?
Can you Upcycle with a laser?
• New undergrad and grad class at Ball State:
• Green Prototyping & Upcycling, where students
– Design, prototype, and test products to promote
environmental sustainability
– Upcycle with laser cutters/engravers
– Attempt to extrude their own 3D filament from
post-consumer resins and 3D print with it
• May be used as an elective in our Master of
Arts in Technology Education
Assisting others in their research:
Kevin Barnes & Kamal Islam
• Scanned warbler model
• 3D printed 10 decoys
• Decoys were painted
and added to buckets
playing songs to attract
cerulean warblers to
Kevin Barns, 2014, Master of Science Thesis Project: Cerulean
Warbler Habitat Selections: Behavioral or Structural. Kamal
Islam, PhD, Advisor.
Photos of Kevin and Kamal courtesy of Kamal Islam at
So many experiments!
Optimizing parameters
Effects of parameters on products
Properties based on build orientation
Designing new 3D printer filament
Adding inserts during 3D printing
Adhesion, finishing, etc., of 3D printed parts
Testing out new processes
and many, many more…
Custom Intersections

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