Every day more and more Universities are showing an enduring interest in 3D printing. Even though most universities do not have a full course on 3D printing, they are investing in labs. 3D printing can be a part of many different studies.
For example, members of the biotech community are making fascinating innovations in bio-printing. Another great field for a career in 3D printing is Industrial Design.
Architecture is making use of additive manufacturing technologies in multiple ways. From printing maquettes to printing houses. And last but not least, various types of engineering are making great strides in additive manufacturing.
I would also add that many fields will continue to implement 3D printing as a part of their standard apparatus. This will be a natural progression as the technology gains more and more prominence.
Why Bother with Universities?
A hands-on experience in a state of the art lab can be invaluable. While many enterprising individuals have made great printing set ups by themselves, it is a costly and rigorous process. For many people, this is out of the question. Additionally, courses provide guidance and focus on the subject. Admittedly, having your own setup can be great. However, universities house some fantastic facilities and teaching tools. Seeing as how 3D printing is immensely hardware intensive, this is financially preferable to setting out on your own.
Moreover, many universities are receiving grants for various new types of AM. For example, Penn State has received such a grant and established a great 3D printing lab. These sorts of programs can be far ahead of the consumer market. Furthermore, since universities often develop the technology itself, they can off technology untouched by many industry manufacturers. A recent example was the students at the university of Zurich who developed the 6-axis 3D Printer. We covered that story here.
A lot of universities have independent labs. This allows for students to use them for their own purposes, which can allow for more experimentation than at a company. While not all campuses have their own facilities, they find ways around this. Some universities partner with companies like Formlabs or Autodesk to combine research. Incidentally, as 3D printing gains more prominence I would expect more labs to pop up or for more companies to collaborate with educational institutions.
Good Universities For Studying 3D Printing
3D printing labs are popping up all over the world. The technology is becoming a must-have for many educational institutions. While universities with printing facilities are relatively scarce, there is a wide range to choose from. I’ve already mentioned Zurich and Penn state above, both of which have fantastic 3D printing facilities.
Getting into North America, one can rule in all the usual suspects. Cornell, Princeton, Penn State and Virginia Tech all have exquisite 3D printing facilities. Harvard’s school of engineering and design is among the most advanced in the world. It has made major breakthroughs in the field of bio-printing. Another university with a good 3D printing department is North Carolina State. NCSU has collected a staggering number of patents under its name.
In Europe, the biggest universities are Exeter and Nottingham. Exeter even offers free usage of their 3D printing facilities and offers workshops. Similarly, University of Nottingham has a lauded 3D printing research department. Notably, TU Delft has made impressive strides in 3D printing work. In fact, they have a very active 3D printing department.
The Asian market is till growing, but has quite a few rising starts in its midst. NTU Singapore set up its own centre for 3D printing. The main focus of their 3D printing efforts is in manufacturing and aerospace/defence. Similarly, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University has various printers at its disposal. They have a whole catalogue on their website. They’ve also made usage of certain 3D printers available to anyone in their library. They apply 3D printing into multiple fields like medicine, architecture and transportation.
Taiwan Tech‘s department previously garnered international attention for using cellphone light as a 3D printing source. Similarly, China’s Hangzhou Dianzi University gained notoriety for its medical marvels. They created 3D printed growable organs and transplanted them.