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Three-Dimensional Printing

Brian Leveille
Cal Poly State University
Professor Sean Green
ENGL 149-10
8 November 2015

1
Table of Contents
Research Proposal ............................................................................................................................2
Progress Report ................................................................................................................................4
Recommendation Report .................................................................................................................5

2
RESEARCH PROPOSAL
To: Debra Larson; Cal Poly State University; Dean of Engineering; dslarson@calpoly.edu
From: Brian Leveille; Cal Poly State University; bleveille@sbcglobal.net
Date: October 27, 2015
Subject: Proposal for Research on Three-Dimensional Printing
Proposed Study / Research
In todays day and age, with technology increasing ever so quickly, 3-D printing is becoming
more and more popular, both in the economy and the engineering community. Furthermore, I am
requesting your permission to conduct primary research on 3-D printing and how the relation
between 3-D printers and engineering can help better prepare engineering students, here at Cal
Poly, for the real world. Moreover, my main goal of this research project is to convince you that
Cal Poly should provide an educational course on 3-D printing.
Statement of Problem
While I believe, and I am sure you do as well, that Cal Poly is one of the greatest engineering
universities, I also believe that the universitys history of producing great engineering students
can be enhanced. Although Cal Poly does have a 3-D printer on its campus which goes along
with the Innovation Sandbox program, it currently does not offer a class which teaches students
about 3-D printers, how 3-D printing works, and how 3-D printing goes hand-in-hand with
engineering today.
By allowing me to conduct primary research on 3-D printing and how it relates to engineering, I
will be able to propose a course designed for engineering students at Cal Poly which relates
directly to 3-D printers. In a sense, 3-D printers are what some may consider the future of our
economy. Considering this, I am surprised that the Cal Poly Engineering Department does not
already offer a class focused on 3-D printing. While there may be clubs / organizations which do
focus on 3-D printing, I believe that a class designed specifically on 3-D printing, provided here
at Cal Poly, would be very beneficial for students with engineering majors.
3-D printing provides us with the realization of what engineering is. From design and
construction, all the way to performance, 3-D printers can help us in manufacturing, the medical
field, and beyond. This is why I believe there should be a class, provided here at Cal Poly, which
teaches students about 3-D printing.
Scope of Proposed Study
My study will include the following:
The invention of 3-D printing
How 3-D printing has evolved to become more beneficial in our economy
How 3-D printing is related to engineering and the workplace
Why a class on 3-D printing would be beneficial to students at Cal Poly

3
Methods and Data Sources
My initial research will consist primarily of secondary sources, both online and from the
Kennedy Library. These sources will come from scholarly journals, books, and other sources, all
of which will provide me with information on 3-D printing.
Additionally, while the focus of my research is to gain a better understanding of 3-D printers and
how they work, I will also be concentrating on how incorporating a class here at Cal Poly, on 3D printing, will benefit engineering students. Moreover, my final research will consist of a
primary survey administered to engineering students here at Cal Poly, searching for opinions of
whether a class on 3-D printing would be advantageous. Not only will I need to survey my peers
and other engineering students about their opinions of having a 3-D printing class offered to
students, but I may also need to conduct interviews with local professors and members of the
Innovation Sandbox program at Cal Poly and seek their opinions as well.
Other Customs
Obviously, my proposed project of research will require lots of my own time. However, I am
determined to conduct exceptional research on this topic, and I hope that this research will
convince you and others that a class on 3-D printing here at Cal Poly would be advantageous to
engineering students.
The anticipated date in which my project will be completed is Sunday, November 8, 2015.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration of my project of proposed study. I am
more than willing to discuss any issues you see fit to converse, at your convenience.

CC: None

4
PROGRESS REPORT
To: Debra Larson; Cal Poly State University; Dean of Engineering; dlarson@calpoly.edu
From: Brian Leveille; Cal Poly State University; bleveille@sbcglobal.net
Date: November 3, 2015
Subject: Progress Report on Three-Dimensional Printing
Following your approval of my research proposal regarding 3-D printing on October 27, 2015, I
have since then conducted preliminary research regarding this topic of approval. Moreover, I
have completed a rough draft of my recommendation report which includes information on
different types of 3-D printing, how 3-D printing relates to the engineering world today, and why
Cal Poly should provide a class on 3-D printing. The following summary includes my progress
report of work completed so far, as well as the work I still need to accomplish.
Completed Work

I have gathered a total of nine secondary sources to construct my research project. These
sources include both scholarly and non-scholarly articles found online.
I have gathered a total of six visuals which are included in the rough draft of my
recommendation report. These visuals serve to assist my display of information in the
recommendation report itself.
I have included a total of four definitions in my report so far. These key terms are
necessary for the reader to understand, which is why I have bolded them in my
recommendation report.
I have written a total of six pages in my recommendation report so far. However, I plan
on reorganizing these pages before I finalize my research project.

Remaining Work

I still need to include primary research in my recommendation report. I plan on doing this
by creating a primary survey on 3-D printing which I will administer to my classmates in
English 149: Technical Writing for Engineers.
I still need to include at least, but not limited to, one more definition which defines a key
term to the audience of my recommendation report.
I still need to include a full-page visual in my recommendation report. This thoughtful,
full-page visual is necessary in my report and will serve to help better influence my
audience.
I still need to cite the sources used in my recommendation report. This is extremely
crucial for my project because it shows that my recommendation report has credibility.

As you can see, I still have some work to do before my final project is completed. Moreover, I
still plan on completing my final project by Sunday, November 8, 2015. Thank you for your time
and consideration regarding my progress report. I am more than willing to discuss any issues you
see fit to converse, at your convenience.
CC: None

5
RECOMMENDATION REPORT
To: Debra Larson; Cal Poly State University; Dean of Engineering; dlarson@calpoly.edu
From: Brian Leveille; Cal Poly State University; bleveille@sbcglobal.net
Date: November 8, 2015
Subject: Recommendation Report on Three-Dimensional Printing
Following your approval of my research proposal on October 27, 2015, I have since then
dedicated my time and effort towards preliminary research on 3-D printing. While the topic of 3D printing is rather broad, I have narrowed my research down into three main categories:
Different Types of 3-D Printing, 3-D Printing and the Engineering World, and Proposal of 3-D
Printing at Cal Poly. You will see that I have included subcategories which serve to go into
further detail with regards to each category.
Additionally, I was able to collect research information to address all of my research goals. In
fact, this recommendation report intends to display my findings on 3-D printing. As you read,
you will see my recommendation that Cal Poly should provide a class, to engineering students,
on 3-D printing.
Different Types of 3-D Printing
Three-dimensional (3-D) printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), is a general
term for various processes used to create three-dimensional objects. While all of these processes
include the use of tooling and functional prototype parts directly from computer models in order
to create a three-dimensional object, these processes all have benefits as well as drawbacks.
Moreover, while the first, original 3-D printer was created in 1984 by Chuck Hull, 3-D printers
have come a long way since then and include many different types of 3-D printing processes.
In general, there are four distinct manufacturing technologies which the term three-dimensional
printing covers including Inkjet 3-D Printing, Fused Deposition Modeling, Stereolithography,
and Selective Laser Sintering.1
Inkjet 3-D Printing
The first of the four distinct manufacturing technologies,
Inkjet 3-D Printing refers to the process of using inkjet
technology in three dimensions. As its name implies, it is
closely related to traditional 2-D printing. However, 3-D
printers using inkjet technology work by layering
powder on powder and binding it with pigmented glue.
The part to be printed is built up from many thin crosssections of the three-dimensional model being printed.2
An inkjet print head moves across a bed of powder,
selectively depositing a liquid binding material. A thin
layer of powder is spread across the completed section Figure 1: Inkjet 3-D Printing Process
Image Courtesy Of
and the process is repeated with each layer following
http://www.miszalok.de/Lectures/L09_Displays/D7_3D_Fa
bricator/Fabricator.htm

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the last. When the three-dimensional model is complete, unbound powder is automatically, or
manually, removed in a process called de-powdering. This unbounded powder can be reused to a
certain point. This first distinct manufacturing technology which uses an inkjet print, 3-D Inkjet
Printing in the only technology capable of printing in full color.3
Fused Deposition Modeling
The second of the four distinct manufacturing technologies, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
is a rapid prototyping process which creates three-dimensional models by heating and extruding
a filament of plastic material. Fused Deposition Modeling begins with a software process which
uses a Stereolithography file, or computer controlled moving laser beam. This file
mathematically slices and positions the model for the build process.4 During the FDM process,
the machine may dispense different types of materials as necessary. For example, one section of
the three-dimensional part being made may perhaps have to be able to withstand high amounts of
heat, so it may require a certain type of material, while a different soluble material may be used
on a different section of the part that my not necessarily need to withstand high amounts of heat.
Next, the three-dimensional part being printed is
produced by extruding small flattened strings of
molten material to form layers. The material that
is extruded usually hardens immediately after
extrusion from the nozzle on the machine. In
order to supply the material which is extruded
from the nozzle, plastic filament or metal wire is
unwound from a coil. Moreover, the nozzle can
turn the flow of the material on and off. In most
Fused Deposition Modeling, the filament is
normally pushed into the nozzle at a controlled
rate. In order for the material to be deposited, the
nozzle must be heated to melt the material, and
Figure 2: Fused Deposition Modeling
the thermoplastics are heated to a
Process
Image Courtesy Of
certain temperature and are then deposited by an
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fused_deposition_modeling#/media/
extrusion head. The nozzle in the Fused
File:FDM_by_Zureks.png
Deposition Modeling process can be moved in
both the horizontal and vertical directions. It is usually controlled numerically by a computer
with Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software. By following a certain tool path
controlled by this software, the nozzle forms the three-dimensional part, building it from the
bottom up, one layer at a time.
While FDM is a rather flexible and easy printing technology to use and is capable of dealing
with overhangs due to its technique of printing layer by layer, Fused Deposition Modeling does
have some drawbacks. Normally, these restrictions occur on the slope of the overhang as well as
the fact that FDM cannot produce unsupported columns. Nonetheless, Fused Deposition
Modeling is one of the cheaper additive manufacturing processes of 3-D printing technologies.

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Stereolithography
The third of the four distinct manufacturing
technologies, Stereolithography is an additive
manufacturing process which produces threedimensional models by tracing a beam of UV light
over a photosensitive pool of liquid resin. This beam
of UV light is used to build a three-dimensional part
by performing on one layer at a time. For each layer,
the laser beam of UV light traces a cross-section of
the pattern on the surface of the liquid resin.5
Exposure to this UV light causes the pattern traced on
the liquid resin to solidify, where it is joined to the
layer below. This process continues until all layers
Figure 3: Stereolithography Printing
have been completed, and over time, the part is
Process
Image Courtesy Of
lowered into a chemical bath and the final threedimensional product is produced. The part is lowered https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereolithography#/media/File:S
tereolithography_apparatus_vector.svg
into a chemical bath in order to be cleaned of excess
resin.
Stereolithography normally requires the use of supporting structures. These structures serve to
attach the three-dimensional part to the elevator platform, in order to prevent alteration due to
gravity and to hold the cross-sections in place. Supporting structures can be created through the
use of Computer Aided Design (CAD) models for use on the Stereolithography machine.
Computed Aided Design (CAD) is the use of computer technology for design and
documentation. CAD software is beneficial in creating the supporting structures because it
replaces manual drafting with an easier, automated process. However, these supporting structures
must be manually removed at the end of the printing process.
The major benefit of Stereolithography is the high level of detail and surface finish it ensures.
Moreover, Stereolithography printing technology reveals astonishing products. Once the part is
done being printed, it is lifted out of the photopolymer solution. This dramatic finish produces
the highest quality 3-D prints available. However, although Stereolithography can produce a
variety of elegant three-dimensional models, it is normally the most expensive of the four
distinct manufacturing processes.6
Selective Laser Sintering
The fourth and final of the four distinct manufacturing technologies, Selective Laser Sintering
(SLS) is an additive manufacturing which involves the use of a high power laser to fuse small
particles of plastic, metal, ceramic, glass, or other powders into a three-dimensional object. The
SLS process normally uses a laser to bind the material being used together to create a solid
object. Selective Laser Sintering is the newest of the four distinct manufacturing technologies
and is rather similar to Stereolithography. However, unlike Stereolithography, Selective Laser
Sintering uses a powdered base and a laser rather than a pool of liquid and UV light.

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In the process of Selective Laser Sintering, the laser precisely fuses powdered material by
scanning cross-sections of the three-dimensional part.7 Normally, like Stereolithography, this
three-dimensional part is most likely generated from a 3-D Computer Aided Design
(CAD) model. After each cross-section is scanned, the powder bed is lowered by layer, and a
new layer of material is applied on top. This process is repeated until the part is completed.
Because the finished three-dimensional part thickness depends on the laser power being used, a
SLS printing machine will normally use a pulsed laser.

Figure 4: Selective Laser Sintering Process


Image Courtesy Of
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereolithography#/media/File:Stereolithography_apparatus_vector.svg

In contrast with other 3-D printing processes, mainly the four distinct manufacturing
technologies which traditionally require support structures to compensate for designs, Selective
Laser Sintering does not need a separate support structure. This is because the three-dimensional
part being constructed is surrounded by powder at all times which holds the part in place.
One drawback of Selective Laser Sintering, however, is that it is impossible to create a hollow,
but fully enclosed three-dimensional part. The reason being is because the powder within the
three-dimensional part cannot be drained. Nonetheless Selective Laser Sintering is an awesome
form of 3-D printing. In fact, a major benefit of SLS is the capability of producing parts of many
different materials. Moreover, Selective Laser Sintering can also be used instead of more
expensive tooling processes such as Stereolithography.8

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3-D Printing and the Engineering World
With technology increasing ever so quickly in this day and age, the use of 3-D printers is also
expanding tremendously. Moreover, the evolution of 3-D printing is incredible, and many
experts believe 3-D printers will only become more advanced in the future. From manufacturing
to the medical field and beyond, 3-D printers serve to make our everyday lives both easier and
more efficient.
In a scholarly article titled Futuristic Three-Dimensional Printing and Personalized
Neurosurgery, from the scholarly journal World Neurosurgery, writers Rami Aoun, Youseff
Hamade, Samer Zammar, and more, talk about 3-D printing and how The implications of this
technologic advancement are far reaching and have the potential to impact neurosurgery
directly.9 Considering these scholarly authors have lots of credibility on this subject, they also
explain how Printing devices and implants on demand and designing patient-specific simulation
models are [two] potential areas for breakthroughs.10 The advancement in the medical field due
to 3-D printing is astonishing, and thanks to this technology, more and more lives are being
saved every day. In fact, these writers of Futuristic Three-Dimensional Printing and
Personalized Neurosurgery also describe how This technology has the potential to reduce
health care costs and enhance surgical skills. It also has tremendous potential for surgeons
working in areas and countries where access to instruments and implants may be limited.11
As you can tell, the writers of this scholarly article are fully aware that near-future advancements
made in 3-D printing devices will have a dramatic impact in the medical world. Moreover, these
advancements would not be accomplished if it were not for engineers. In fact, in regards to
engineering and 3-D printing, one can only assume that this field of research is going to take off
in the near-future. Writer Jason Alexrod explains in an article called New 3-D Printing
Technology Could Drastically Affect Economy, how Scientists and speculators have theorized
that the technology will eventually be used to create large scale projects such as creating cars and
planes, furnishing entire houses and even building the house itself.12
Clearly, it can be seen that 3-D printing is the future of our economy. Moreover, it is important
to note that these exceptional machines could not be built if it were not for the advanced
engineers we have in our society today. I believe that engineering is one of, if not the most
important major in colleges and universities and, because of spectacular engineers, our economy
is beginning to see drastic changes from manufacturing to the medical field and beyond with the
advancement of 3-D printers.

10
According to the website Forbes.com, in an article called Demand For 3-D Printing Skills Is
Accelerating Globally, The number of job ads requiring workers with 3-D printing skills
increased 1,834% in 4 years and 103% when comparing August 2014 to August 2013. The
following graphic illustrates the accelerating growth of 3-D printing and additive manufacturing
expertise needs of employers over the last four years.13

Figure 5: 3-D Printing and Additive Manufacturing 4-Year Hiring Trends


Image Courtesy Of
http://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2014/09/15/demand-for-3d-printing-skills-is-accelerating-globally/

11

Proposal of 3-D Printing at Cal Poly


Considering the facts stated above, it is clear that in todays day and age, companies are most
definitely looking for engineers with skills in the 3-D printing industry. Writer John Platt from
The Institute wrote in an article titled Thirty-Five Percent of Engineering Jobs Now Require 3D Printing Skills, how The technology behind 3-D printing is progressing rapidly, with
companies around the world investing billions of dollarsto improve hardware, software, and
printable plastics and other materials. Meanwhile, the use of 3-D printing has gone mainstream.
As a result, knowing how to use a 3-D printer has become an in-demand job skill. A recent report
from a data company Wanted Analytics found that in one month, 35 percent of engineering job
listings from a variety of fields, including biomedical, software, and transportation industries,
required applicants familiar with 3-D printing and its additive manufacturing processes. The
same report found that companies are having a difficult time finding candidates with the right
skills.14

Figure 6: Developing a Skill for 3-D Printing


Image Courtesy Of
http://theinstitute.ieee.org/career-and-education/career-guidance/thirtyfive-percent-of-engineering-jobs-now-require-3d-printing-skills

12
After conducting research on the topic of 3-D printing by examining secondary sources, I
decided to administer a survey to engineering students here at Cal Poly as a primary source of
research. I administered a survey consisting of five questions to a total of 30 engineering students
here at Cal Poly, and you can observe the results below.

Results of a Primary Survey on 3-D Printing Administered to Cal Poly


Engineering Students
Questions

Answer Choices

Results
(% of respondents for each answer choice)

How would you rate yourself on


the topic of 3-D printing?

a.) Beginner
b.) Basic
c.) Intermediate
d.) Advanced
e.) Expert

a.) 43.6%
b.) 39.1%
c.) 13%
d.) 4.3%
e.) 0%

How important do you think 3-D


printing is / will be in our lives /
future?

a.) Not important


b.) Somewhat important
c.) Important
d.) Extremely important

a.) 0%
b.) 4.3%
c.) 56.6%
d.) 39.1%

Do you think Cal Poly should


offer classes on 3-D printing?

a.) Yes
b.) No

a.) 100%
b.) 0%

Roughly what percent of


engineering jobs now require 3-D
printing skills?

a.) 10%
b.) 12%
c.) 17%
d.) 29%
e.) 35%

a.) 4.3%
b.) 13%
c.) 34.7%
d.) 21.6%
e.) 26.4%

How do you think a class on 3-D


printing would benefit students?

a.) I do not think a 3-D printing class


would be beneficial to students
b.) I am not sure how a class on 3-D
printing would be beneficial to students
c.) I think a 3-D printing class would
allow students to better understand how
3-D printing works, the design process
that is required to create a 3-D printer,
how 3-D printers can benefit our
society, etc.
d.) Other
Figure 7: Results of a Primary Survey on 3-D Printing

a.) 0%
b.) 4.3%
c.) 95.7%
d.) 0%

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Based on the results of my primary survey administered to engineering students here at Cal Poly,
some of the conclusions suggested from the results are quite astonishing. To begin, it is
interesting to note that 100% of the students surveyed believed Cal Poly should offer a class on
3-D printing. It is also important to note that more than 75% of the students surveyed considered
themselves to either have beginner or basic knowledge when it comes to 3-D printing. Seeing
that only 26% of the students who were surveyed knew the actual percentage of engineering jobs
which now require 3-D printing skills, whereas the other 74% believed this percentage to be
lower than the actual amount, it can be suggested that most engineering students, in general, do
not realize the importance of 3-D printing in our lives.
Recommendation
After reviewing both the primary and secondary research I have conducted on 3-D printing and
how it is beginning to take off in the industry of todays economy, I surely hope you understand
why I am recommending that Cal Poly provide an educational course, to its engineering students,
on 3-D printing. Undoubtedly, it is clear that companies today are looking to hire candidates with
skills in 3-D printing and / or additive manufacturing. Consequently, not only would a class on 3D printing provided at Cal Poly set the university apart from other top colleges and universities
in the state and the country, but this would also lead to better, more prepared engineers entering
the fast paced economy in todays world. I strongly urge you to consider my recommendation
that Cal Poly provide a class on 3-D printing, and I hope to see my recommendation become a
reality in the years to come.

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Table of Figures
Figure 1: Inkjet 3-D Printing Process ..............................................................................................5
Figure 2: Fused Deposition Modeling Process ................................................................................6
Figure 3: Stereolithography Printing Process ..................................................................................7
Figure 4: Selective Laser Sintering Process.....................................................................................8
Figure 5: 3-D Printing and Additive Manufacturing 4-Year Hiring Trends ..................................10
Figure 6: Developing a Skill for 3-D Printing ...............................................................................11
Figure 7: Results of a Primary Survey on 3-D Printing .................................................................12
Endnotes
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Flaherty, Joseph. 4 Types of 3-D Printing. Replicator.com. Replicator


Incorporated, 24
Feb. 2009. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.
Powder Bed and Inkjet Head 3D Printing. Wikipedia.com. Wikimedia Foundation, 3
June 2015. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.
Flaherty, Joseph.
Fused Deposition Modeling. Wikipedia.com. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Oct. 2015.
Web. 28 Oct. 2015.
Stereolithography. Wikipedia.com. Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Nov. 2015. Web. 29 Oct.
2015.
Flaherty, Joseph
Selective Laser Sintering. Wikipedia.com. Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Oct. 2015. Web.
30 Oct. 2015.
Flaherty, Joseph
Aoun, Rami N., Youssef J. Hamade, and Samer G. Zammar. et al. Futuristic ThreeDimensional Printing and Personalized Neurosurgery. World Neurosurgery 84.4 (2015):
870-71. ScienceDirect.com. Elsevier Incorporated. Web. 31 Oct. 2015.
Aoun, Rami N.
Aoun, Rami N
Axelrod, Jason. New 3D Printing Technology Could Drastically Affect Economy.
TheRedandBlack.com. The Red and Black, 29 Sept. 2014. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.
Columbus, Louis. Demand For 3D Printing Skills Is Accelerating Globally.
Forbes.com. Forbes Magazine, 15 Sept. 2014. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.
Platt, John R. Thirty-Five Percent of Engineering Jobs Now Require 3-D Printing
Skills. TheInstitute.org. IEEE News, 3 Apr. 2015. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.

CC: None