El equipo de ingeniería del espacio de fabricación de la ODU

Old Dominion University

Un espacio para estudiantes de ingeniería que supera las expectativas

  • Educación

Old Dominion University utiliza impresoras 3D Ultimaker para ofrecer a los estudiantes de ingeniería un nuevo nivel de innovación y confianza.

Cuando el estudiante de ingeniería Aric Veatch comenzó a colaborar en el nuevo Engineering Makerspace and Invention Center (EMIC) de la universidad en 2017, estaba intrigado por las impresoras 3D Ultimaker del centro. "Los datos operativos y a largo plazo de los sistemas Ultimaker fueron mucho mejores que los de los competidores más cercanos y el coste de compra fue excepcional", afirma Veatch. "Inmediatamente pensé que tenía que ver si estaban a la altura de las expectativas establecidas".

En 2017, al decano del Frank Batten College of Engineering & Technology de la Old Dominion University en Norfolk, Virginia, se le ocurrió la idea de crear un espacio de fabricación avanzado, propiedad de los estudiantes y administrado por ellos. De este modo se fundó el Engineering Makerspace and Invention Center, con un presupuesto de 1,5 millones de dólares, un lugar que permite a todos los estudiantes probar nuevas ideas de diseño. El centro ofrece una serie de recursos que incluyen diseño y pruebas CAD, producción de electrónica, mecanizado de metales, madera y compuestos, soldadura, acabado e impresión 3D.

"El centro se construyó con la misión de formar ingenieros como pensadores críticos, líderes y solucionadores de problemas", comenta Rafael E. Landaeta, doctor, decano asociado de Engineering Makerspace and Invention en el Frank Batten College of Engineering & Technology. "Nuestro objetivo es dar a los estudiantes de ingeniería la ventaja que necesitan con habilidades que pueden emplearse en el mercado".

Uso de las impresoras 3D Ultimaker en el espacio de fabricación
Interior del Engineering Makerspace and Invention Center de la ODU
Piezas de impresión 3D de Ultimaker para un proyecto académico
Impresora 3D Ultimaker en funcionamiento

Con las impresoras 3D, la intención era que los estudiantes tuvieran acceso a herramientas de creación rápida de prototipos, de modo que pudieran crear piezas acabadas en la zona de trabajo contigua, que cuenta con una serie de herramientas de fabricación tradicionales. Sin embargo, según Veatch, la calidad de las impresoras 3D y de los materiales era tal que no solo permitía la creación, en el espacio de fabricación, de prototipos de la mayoría de los proyectos, sino también la fabricación de piezas de uso final mediante la impresión 3D.

"Queríamos tener una variedad de impresoras diferentes, pero prestamos mucha atención a la reputación del fabricante, la fiabilidad a largo plazo de su servicio y la facilidad de uso de sus productos", declara el Dr. Orlando Ayala, director del EMIC. "Innegablemente, Ultimaker cumplía con todos los criterios".

La evolución en el aprendizaje

El EMIC se diseñó para permitir la ideación y la creación de prototipos de estas ideas, y hubo muchos estudiantes dispuestos a aprovechar la oportunidad. Las dos impresoras 3D Ultimaker S3 y la de escritorio S5 se convirtieron rápidamente en parte del programa del departamento de ingeniería. El Dr. Veatch fue nombrado director de operaciones como parte de sus estudios de posgrado para operar las impresoras 3D y otros sistemas de ingeniería del EMIC.

"El uso de las impresoras 3D aumentó rápidamente", afirma. "En noviembre de 2019 todas las impresoras estaban en uso continuo y habíamos pedido otra Ultimaker S3 para satisfacer la demanda".

Los sistemas Ultimaker utilizan la tecnología de fabricación de filamentos fundidos (FFF) y son lo suficientemente compactos como para caber en un escritorio, al tiempo que ofrecen generosos tamaños de impresión: la S3 proporciona un tamaño de impresión de hasta 230 x 190 x 200 mm, con extrusión de material doble, y la S5 puede imprimir hasta 330 x 240 x 300 mm, ambas con espesores de capa de tan solo 20 micras.

Estas especificaciones permiten a los estudiantes pensar a lo grande. Las ideas y las piezas que se crearon avanzaron rápidamente hasta el punto de que los estudiantes no solo diseñaron y produjeron piezas para los trabajos del curso, sino que también probaron y produjeron piezas para otros retos de ingeniería.

Las piezas producidas van desde "fidget spinners" y máscaras de personajes ficticios hasta piezas para vehículos difíciles de conseguir.

Piezas impresas en 3D en el espacio de fabricación de la ODU
Entre las impresiones de prueba se incluyen un motor de 4 tiempos impreso en PLA blanco, una mesa de tensegridad (ABS amarillo), un árbol de Navidad en espiral (ABS blanco y azul) y una mano articulada (PLA gris)

Ultimaker también ofrece más de 150 materiales para sus clientes y los estudiantes de ingeniería eligen rápidamente sus favoritos.

"Los materiales de Ultimaker, especialmente el TPU y el PLA, son adecuados para piezas de uso final, para elementos de ingeniería específicos, como los casquillos de la palanca de cambios", afirma Veatch. "Ha sido increíble observar la evolución de lo que los estudiantes pensaban que era posible hacer con la impresión 3D. Rápidamente pasaron de proyectos básicos a proyectos muy avanzados".

En última instancia, añade, la impresión 3D ha creado una excelente generación de ingenieros que piensan en el espacio 3D y evolucionan a un ritmo más rápido.

"La experiencia de establecer un espacio de creadores con Ultimaker significa que hemos superado por completo lo que se esperaba de los estudiantes de ingeniería", afirma el doctor Landaeta. "Hemos quedado totalmente impresionados con los logros de los estudiantes".

Facilidad operativa

Veatch enumera las siguientes ventajas de la producción utilizando las plataformas Ultimaker: facilidad de uso, mantenimiento sencillo, materiales de alta calidad, software completo y bajo coste de propiedad.

"Tardé 30 minutos en sacar la impresora 3D de la caja y ponerla a funcionar", asegura Veatch. "El sencillo cambio de los print cores permite mantener una impresora funcionando mientras otra se repara".

Veatch también menciona la libertad de obtener y usar filamentos de otras fuentes sin limitación, así como los materiales de alta calidad que ofrece Ultimaker, incluidos el PLA y el TPU.

Todos los sistemas Ultimaker vienen con el software Cura, una solución de software de preparación de impresión 3D gratuita y de alto rendimiento. Este software funciona con los principales formatos de archivo CAD y es de código abierto para que cualquiera pueda utilizarlo.

"El software Cura es ideal para preparar impresiones", asegura. "También se pueden cambiar los datos de impresión sobre la marcha mientras se imprime, lo que permite arreglar un problema sin tener que reiniciar la impresión por completo".

Ingeniería en clases virtuales

El confinamiento ha obligado a interrumpir las clases y ha hecho que estudiantes y docentes de instituciones educativas de todo el país hayan tenido que quedarse en casa. Sin embargo, tanto el Dr. Landaeta como el Dr. Ayala se lo han tomado con calma y han convertido este período de tiempo en un estudio preliminar instantáneo e inesperado de cómo se podría realizar la investigación de ingeniería en un entorno virtual.

"Los procesos de ingeniería virtual están bien implementados en todas las organizaciones comerciales", asegura el Dr. Landaeta. "Pero esto requiere una buena inversión en tiempo y tecnologías". Los últimos tres meses no han hecho más que acelerar lo que creíamos que iba a tardar años en normalizarse en la ingeniería".

El Dr. Landaeta señala que la mayoría de los procesos de ingeniería requieren trabajo real para producir piezas y productos. Esto significa que, si bien el trabajo de diseño se puede realizar fácilmente en el espacio virtual, las etapas de creación de prototipos, pruebas, producción y mantenimiento aún requieren equipos extensos en el espacio físico. Sin embargo, la impresión 3D está ayudando a superar algunas de estas limitaciones.

Logotipo del espacio de fabricación de la ODU impreso en 3D

Para el próximo programa Summer Bridge, que presenta a los estudiantes de secundaria al programa de ingeniería de la universidad, las piezas impresas en 3D se han convertido en una opción rentable para continuar el curso en un entorno virtual. El equipo imprimió en 3D de forma rentable y proporcionó modelos de transmisión completos a los estudiantes para que pudieran continuar el programa en un entorno virtual.

"Las tecnologías de impresión 3D de baja fidelidad son lo suficientemente asequibles como para tenerlas en casa", asegura Landaeta. "No hay nada comparado con tocar y sostener un prototipo, moverlo, colocarlo en perspectiva con respecto a otros objetos y sentir su superficie".

Para probar esta teoría, las impresoras 3D se llevaron a la casa del Dr. Veatch al comienzo del confinamiento, donde gracias a su pequeño tamaño de escritorio, resultaron fáciles de instalar y manejar.

"Mover las impresoras 3D de un lugar a otro es rápido y fácil", sostiene Veatch. "Es menos fácil trasladar máquinas de fabricación tradicional más grandes, además de que hay que tener espacio para ellas. Las Ultimakers son limpias y lo suficientemente pequeñas para uso doméstico".

Los datos de diseño 3D se envían a Veatch a través de la intranet de la universidad, y las piezas se imprimen y luego se envían a los alumnos para que las analicen y las prueben.

"El Batten College of Engineering & Technology planea apoyar la enseñanza de este nuevo estándar de ingeniería. Ahora tenemos que enseñar a nuestros estudiantes a convertirse en ingenieros de éxito en entornos de ingeniería virtual", afirma el Dr. Landaeta. "Las tecnologías de impresión 3D están a la vanguardia de estos esfuerzos para permitir que los estudiantes creen prototipos en el campus o en casa".

El EMIC ahora planea ampliar aún más el número de impresoras 3D de que dispone y espera tener entre 12 y 20 en el futuro. Esta institución también desea ampliar el uso de la impresión 3D con el software Ultimaker Digital Factory para mejorar la gestión de la flota de impresoras 3D a medida que crece.

"Estamos muy contentos con las impresoras 3D Ultimaker. Los alumnos han podido trabajar en proyectos extraordinarios con gran facilidad", asegura Ayala. "Estamos planeando comprar más impresoras 3D Ultimaker en el futuro".

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    The Victoria Hand Project creates customized prosthetic hands for amputees in third world countries – using Ultimaker 3D printers to make the process more efficient and cost-effective.

    • Medical
  • Ulticast

    Using Ultimaker to cast silicone for soft robotics

    Using their Ultimaker 2+ 3D printer, students from Delft University of Technology have discovered a way to cast silicone for soft robotics. This has huge implications for soft actuators, and for the medical sector. Read on to learn more.

    • Education
    • Product development
  • Henchmen Props: 3D printed props workshop

    Henchmen Props: 3D printed props workshop

    Henchmen Props creates props and costumes for industry-leading video game companies like Blizzard and Respawn. 3D printing has allowed them to greatly reduce their production times and rapidly prototype new parts.

    • Product development
  • 3D printed bottle rockets

    Teaching STEM with 3D printed bottle rockets

    There are many ways in which 3D printing can be used to enhance the students' learning experience in modern-day primary education. Discover how 3D printing can boost learning here.

    • Education
  • Making of the Ultimaker 3

    The Ultimaker 3: Behind the scenes

    3D printers let product designers and engineers test, evaluate and improve their ideas. Even more importantly, they’re a powerful tool for various professional applications. Read on to find out how we developed the Ultimaker 3.

    • Product development
  • ultimaker-3-bridge-manufacturing

    Bringing the Ultimaker 3 to market with bridge manufacturing

    Ultimaker 3 has proven to be a reliable solution for businesses. Learn how bridge manufacturing helps you launch products on time, with a 3D printer that's primed to deliver results.

    • Industrial goods
    • End-use parts
  • abb

    Functional prototyping at ABB Robotics

    3D printing gives businesses around the world the opportunity to save time and money. ABB Robotics turned to the Ultimaker 2 Extended+ for making prototype fingers for their robot YuMi, bringing new opportunities to the company.

    • Industrial goods
    • Product development
  • Mark Peeters

    Breaking barriers in education with 3D printing

    With a desktop 3D printer, teachers can empower their students to design, collaborate, and create amazing things they never thought possible. But what is it actually like to have a 3D printer in the classroom?

    • Education
  • odocs-story

    From a market-tested prototype to an eye-saving game-changer

    oDocs Eye Care Kit has the potential to save millions from blindness. But this wouldn’t be possible without functional prototyping. And 3D printing is the most accurate, not to mention time and cost-effective, way to achieve it.

    • Medical
  • bhold-tn1

    3D-powered prototyping by the Bhold Studio

    How far can you get with a dream and a 3D printer? You can think of the most sophisticated forms and textures, turn them into successful products and blaze through prototyping and production at lightning speed.

    • Consumer goods
    • Product development
  • drgoldie015

    Surgical planning using 3D printed bone models

    Professional 3D printers are now being actively used by healthcare professionals not only to educate patients about their condition, but also to plan complex surgeries – even using the models during the operation as a guide.

    • Medical
  • Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton

    3D printing a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton

    To build a 13 meter long T. rex skeleton, Naturalis turned to 3D printing. Thanks to the incredible accuracy and flexibility of the Ultimaker 2+, the skeleton will be restored in even greater detail than initially anticipated.

    • Education
  • Developing sustainable fuel with Team FAST

    Developing sustainable fuel with Team FAST

    Using their Ultimaker 3D printer, Team FAST was able to design and print custom mounts and fittings for their car prototype fueled with formic acid.

    • Education
  • melt-ultibot-hero2

    Using 3D printed shapes to create food molds

    3D printing shapes and prototypes for food-safe molds is becoming a popular 3D printer application in the food industry that allows entrepreneurs to escape the demands of industrial-sized production runs.

    • Consumer goods
    • Product development
  • odocs-eyecare-hero

    Saving eyesight with a 3D printed eye examination kit

    oDocs Eye Care creates open source medical equipment for eye diagnoses. Using 3D printing, they developed a cost-effective and accurate eye examination kit to help diagnose treatable and preventable blindness.

    • Medical
    • End-use parts
  • 3d-printing-manufacturing-casting-metal-application-siemens-ultimaker-2

    Using Ultimaker 3D printers for manufacturing at Siemens

    Learn how Siemens Rail Automation are using their Ultimaker 3D printers to assist in prototyping of new components and products, as well as manufacturing end-use parts.

    • Industrial goods
    • Product development
  • recycled-plastic-3d-printing-filament-ultimaker-original-project-seafood

    Project Seafood, creating waves of change on our shores

    Desktop 3D printing allows anyone to transform ideas into tangible products in a matter of hours. This is a story of a couple who took their Ultimaker Original out for a spin in their mini-van to make a better world.

    • Product development
  • architecture-application-3d-printing-city-model-sweco

    Architects use 3D printing to prototype huge city project

    To help bring their ideas to life Sweco architects needed a rapid prototyping tool they could rely on every day to create models with tight deadlines. So they turned to 3D printing.

    • Architecture
  • ultimaker-olsson-block-3d-printer-nozzle-troubleshooting-maintenance

    The Olsson Block - a community invention by Anders Olsson

    We're proud to say that an essential part of the Ultimaker DNA is our strong community. we’d like to highlight the work of an ingenious community member called Anders Olsson, the man who gave us the Olsson block.

    • Education
    • Product development
  • world-fastest-rc-car-3d-printed-with-ultimaker-2

    The world's fastest 3D printed R/C car

    What do you do when you want to build the world's fastest radio controlled car? Build it yourself! Read this story to find out how one man designed and created a 3D printed RC car from scratch.

    • Product development
  • 3d-printing-lesson-plan-ultimaker-original-kit-in-primary-school

    3D printing in education for inspirational learning

    More and more, 3D printing is being used in education. Teachers use 3D objects to help primary school kids grasp concepts, refine students' creative skills in high school and help them learn technical subjects at university.

    • Education
  • ultimaker-3d-printing-events-booth-makerfaire-2

    100% recycled filament from Perpetual Plastic Project

    At this moment there are huge amounts of waste plastic, and only 10 to 12% of it is being recycled. The team behind the Perpetual Plastic Project is looking to change the world by reducing the amount of plastic.

    • Consumer goods
    • Product development
  • Luke-3DProsthetic-hand

    Meet Luke and his 3D printed e-NABLE hand

    With a global network of over 5,000 volunteers, the e-NABLE foundation designs, creates, and donates their 3D printed hands free of charge to children and adults using Ultimaker 3D printers.

    • Medical
  • Julian-hakes-prototype-Ultimaker

    3D printed and prototyped shoes by Julian Hakes

    Learn how fashion designer Julian Hakes brought his award-winning Mojito Shoe to life. With his Ultimaker 3D printer, he was able to create multiple prototypes in-house and perfect his designs.

    • Consumer goods
    • Product development