May 8, 2019

Wohlers Associates and Protolabs Host 3D Printing Design Course

By Rachel Hunt
DMLS Manifold Parts
Attendees of the DfAM class were challenged to redesign a manifold in order to reduce the need for support structures.

Industry and technical experts from the Wohlers Associates group collaborated with Protolabs to host an intensive course on design for additive manufacturing. Protolabs’ customers traveled from all over the United States to take part in the event held at the The Umstead Hotel in Cary, NC.

Before coming to class, designers were given a coveted pre-read, the just released 2019 Wohlers Report. This comprehensive state of the 3D printing industry report along with some technical videos got students in the right frame of mind to hit the ground running. Day 1 kicked off with an opening from Protolabs’ General Manager of the Americas, Rob Bodor. After giving an overview of Protolabs’ 3D printing capabilities, Rob engaged with the audience to understand what they wanted to get out of the course. Before diving into the hands on design work, Terry Wohlers gave an overview of the current state of the industry calling out the swift rise in metal additive manufacturing adoption.

Throughout Day 1 and Day 2, students were split into design teams. Olaf Diegel and Ray Huff, two highly experienced additive design engineers, led the design challenges. Side note: ever heard of 3D-printed guitars? That’s Olaf Diegel, the mastermind behind these works of art. Now back to the course. Participants had around half an hour to re-design a manifold with reduced support structures. Check out the image. They really did a nice job!

Custom designed SLA hat and MJF bust. Attendees were scanned and learned how to design personalized parts, a growing trend in 3D printing.

Next, participants designed a custom fitted part. Students were scanned and customized parts were modeled in the software. The Protolabs team helped bring these designs to life by printing and bringing them to the course. Attendees got hands on experience removing support structure material.

Topology optimization was next. An aircraft carrier seat was re-designed to bring light weighting design principles to life. Students also spent time learning about lattice structure generation and part assembly optimization.  

On Day 3, students heard from Terry Wohlers on industry future state considerations. Greg Thompson, 3D printing product manager, wrapped the event with insights on the financial case to be made for additive manufacturing. The extra bonus highlight of the course was the tour of the 3D printing manufacturing facility a few miles away from the hotel. Participants and the Wohlers team were able to see the stereolithography, Multi Jet Fusion, PolyJet, selective laser sintering, and direct metal laser sintering machines in action. Of particular interest was the post machine shop in the DMLS production area that offers CNC machining, an EDM, a lathe, quality inspections, and a host of post-processing capabilities.

Terry Wohlers said, "Protolabs pulled together a very impressive group of people and companies as participants in the DfAM course. It was one of the most knowledgeable groups we've had. Also, it was a privilege to work with the people at Protolabs on this course. It's a world-class company with great employees. A highlight for the Wohlers Associates' team was the extensive tour of the company's impressive AM facility. It's one of the best and largest I've seen anywhere.”

“Protolabs continues to grow as a thought leader in 3D printing. Based on feedback from this initial event, we definitely plan to offer more of these courses in the future for our customers,” said Marketing Manager Gillian Goranowski.

“The Protolabs sponsored Design for Additive Manufacturing seminar was the perfect blend of background, theory and hands-on exercises in a 2 ½ day event,” noted Dennis Vaders, Sr. Mechanical Engineer, Intuitive Surgical. “Terry Wohlers and Olaf Diegel were excellent presenters and their depth of knowledge showed through nuggets of wisdom likely absent from those less experienced. Touring the facility and printing of the exercise parts was icing on the cake.”