Purdue Creates Fully-Functional Toys Using An Xtreme 3D Printer

Think, Create and Play: Purdue University Toy Design Course 3D Prints with EnvisionTEC

University’s engineering department used EnvisionTEC’s 3D printing solutions to build student projects for course and annual Toy Makers Fair

Nestled in the new wing of Purdue University’s School of Mechanical Engineering is the C Design Lab where engineering students turn creative concepts into 3D reality.

Dr. Karthik Ramani, a professor at the School of Mechanical Engineering and the director of Purdue’s C Design Lab ME444 course, showcased hundreds of shelved toys made possible by 3D printing.

“3D printing brings to life the design,” said Dr. Ramani. “The course inspires students to have fun, while learning the right balance of hands-on-design that complement the CAD skills acquired in the labs.”

Speaking from the university’s lab in Indiana, Dr. Ramani discussed the importance of visual thinking being critical for creativity and innovation in design; especially for students taking the course.

“Students set out to 3D print fully functional toy models,” said Dr. Ramani. “Many of these toys are printed on EnvisionTEC’s Xtreme® 3SP® 3D printer as part of each students final exam.”

Using the Xtreme 3SP 3D printer, an experienced builder will take student designs and produce a functional concept model with EnvisionTEC’s ABS Flex 3D print material.

The ABS 3SP Flex is capable of  high speed builds, allowing for small to large models to be built in under a day without sacrificing part surface quality.

Mike Sherwood, manager of tech services at Purdue University is in charge of running and maintaining the Xtreme 3D printer.

“I’ve been with the university for more than 30 years,” said Sherwood. “Since 1997, I’ve had the pleasure of working with 3D printing technology. My first machine was a laser resin machine, then an FDM and moving ahead now the Xtreme…hundreds of toys are 3D printed here on the Xtreme and each inch scale toy part is collected as .ZIP files from students. Afterwards it is put into .STL files and a build report of part screen shots, dimensions and volume information.”

The Xtreme large format 3D printer uses EnvisionTEC’s 3SP (Scan, Spin, and Selectively Photocure) technology to quickly 3D print highly accurate parts from STL files regardless of geometric complexity.

“It was easy to transition to using the Xtreme 3D printer,” said Sherwood. “The 3D printer allows various design iterations so that once printed each toy can be tested for form, fit and function.”

The Xtreme has a built-in touch screen and quiet operation and it can be integrated into a network for pre-processing of the job files and for remote monitoring. It’s pretty straightforward to use and the upkeep of the machine isn’t hard added Sherwood.

The toy design course has more than a 20 year history at Purdue and focuses on teaching the preliminary design process, running CAD and fabrication of design concepts.

“3D printers play an important role in this class,” ME444 Teaching Assistant Sujin Jang said. “Students get to see how their product design will look like in real life. And when we brought onboard the EnvisionTEC 3D printer it provided us with very high precision and the surface quality we needed in 3D printing toys.”

Each year, students involved in the course get to participate in the annual “Toy Makers Fair.” The fair showcases an array of toys printed on the Xtreme 3SP, and is judged by professors and business professionals. All of the finalists’ 3D printed prototypes are displayed publicly in the Railside Station of the Mechanical Engineering building. Currently, the school is the only place to publicly view the Xtreme 3SP 3D printer and the toys printed on the machine.

“The surface quality of the printed models show no signs of stairstepping,” said Yuanthi Cao teaching assistant for the ME444 course. “With the Xtreme, it produces the best quality, compared to other 3D printers.”

From basketball hoops to a motorized maze, the course continues to inspire students to learn engineering concepts, while implementing the innovation of EnvisionTEC’s 3D printing solutions.

“As you can see, we’ve created an exciting eco-system for students to learn making and building toys using 3D printing,” said Dr. Ramani. “The EnvisionTEC machine has been serving this purpose and we’ll continue to work with EnvisionTEC to make this class better.”

For more information about ME444 Toy Design Course at Purdue, visit https://engineering.purdue.edu/toydesign/wp/ or click here to download the Xtreme 3SP 3D printer data sheet.

Watch the onsite interview on 3D printing at Purdue University.