SCIENCE OF INNOVATION: 3-D Printing - An Engineering Perspective (Grades 6-12)

Objective:


Framework for K–12 Science Education: ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems, ETS2.A: Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology, ETS2.B: Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World


Introduction Notes:


 Science of innovation

3-D Printing

An Engineering Perspective (Grades 6–12)

 

Lesson plans produced by the National Science Teachers Association.

Video produced by NBC Learn in collaboration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office
and the National Science Foundation.

 

Background and Planning

 

About the Video

This video features Michael Cima, Ph.D. (Chemical Engineering), and Emanuel Sachs, Ph.D. (Mechanical Engineering), both professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Drs. Cima and Sachs helped pioneer methods of 3-D printing, in which three-dimensional models and manufactured products are created by a computerized “additive” process. Unlike traditional manufacturing techniques that fabricate objects by removing material from a larger block (subtractive processing), additive fabrication consists of building objects up in thin layers—one layer at a time.  Cima and Sachs’ “printer’s ink” consists of a binding agent added to a bed of powder. The video discusses how these devices are revolutionizing the creative process so that individuals can quickly produce their own three-dimensional objects using computer software and ink-jet technology equipment, to enable the manufacture of objects that are difficult to produce with existing traditional techniques. The video also explains how the patent process enables the protection of new ideas, so that inventors can benefit from their work and the sharing of these ideas with other scientists and engineers.

 

0:00     0:14     Series opening

0:15     0:58     Introducing 3-D printing at the 2012 Maker Faire in New York City

0:59     1:18     Introducing Dr. Cima and Dr. Sachs

1:19     2:07     Explaining additive versus older subtractive fabrication process

2:08     3:16     Explaining Cima’s and Sachs’ particular method, using powder and liquid binder

3:17     3:50     Describing the role of the patent process in protecting and sharing ideas

3:51     4:10     Briefly describing other manufacturing methods of 3-D printing

4:11     4:34     Broader value: making things with 3-D printing impossible to produce otherwise

4:35     4:54     3-D printing as a tool for scientists, engineers, and backyard inventors

4:55     5:08     Closing credits

 

Language Support

To aid those with limited English proficiency or others who need help focusing on the video, make transcript of the video available. Click the Transcript tab on the side of the video window, then copy and paste into a document for student reference.

 

Framework for K–12 Science Education

      ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems

      ETS2.A: Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology

      ETS2.B: Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World

 

(page 1)

 

Emphasize Innovation

 

The Innovation Process

Patents

Filing for a patent is one part of the innovation process. Dr. Cima emphasizes the importance of doing so, not only to protect an idea, but also to share information. In exchange for this sharing of information, the government gives an inventor a temporary right to exclude others from making, using, or selling his/her invention. The inventor agrees to disclose all of the information about how the invention works so that others can improve upon the idea or invention, thus providing an even larger and more sustainable contribution to society. This quid pro quo paradigm of inventions enables others to continuously reshape, retool, and re-evaluate the world by constantly building upon previous platforms of invention.

 

Take Action with Students

Discuss with students how existing technologies can be modified or extended to new uses or applications. For example, the basic technology for distributing the liquid binder on the powder is that of ink-jet printers, which were originally intended for only two-dimensional surfaces (paper). This shows that innovation does not always consist of totally new ideas, but often results from realizing that an existing technology can be used in a new way to address and solve new problems.

 

Innovation and STEM

The innovation highlighted in Science of Innovation (SOI): 3-D Printing incorporates many aspects of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. For example, required science knowledge involves an understanding of materials and properties of substances to develop the so-called “ink” of the printer and its color and consistency, and how the printed layers will adhere to one another to form a solid, 3-D structure. Math concepts involve programming and the translation of two-dimensional layers into three-dimensional structures that include open interior spaces. Starting with a vision and applying scientific principles and mathematical knowledge, a technology was born.

 

Drs. Cima and Sachs were originally trying to find a way to make three-dimensional models that designers of various objects could use to aid in visualizing, understanding, and displaying objects, ranging from small manufactured items to buildings. Later, they realized that, given appropriate materials, the method could be used to manufacture these objects themselves, rather than simply producing models of them. The engineering design process then made way for size and cost reductions in the technology by evaluating the constraints that limited the use of it. A tool that used to be the size of a large storage cabinet can now sit on your desktop at a tiny fraction of the original cost. Now the technology is even used by artists, for example, to create computer-designed sculptures. This shows how new technologies often end up having a much wider range of uses than the innovators originally envisioned.

 

 

 

(page 2)

 

 

Take Action with Students

         Using the Design Investigations section of Facilitate Inquiry as a guide, encourage students to investigate additive and subtractive manufacturing processes.

         Help students brainstorm or search the Internet to form a list of some materials or combinations of materials that might be usable in additive manufacturing. These include thermoplastics, ceramics, metal alloys, and eutectic metals – and the various processes such as heating used to bind, solidify, or strengthen them, such as thermoplastic powders, ceramic powders, and plaster used in granular technologies; paper, metal foil, and plastic films used in laminated technology; and light sensitive polymer materials used in photo-polymerization additive manufacturing. Have students discuss what uses each technology might have. Extend the discussion to include how information about the shapes of the objects might be represented, stored, and used to control the printer.

 

Caution:An Internet search of 3-D printing may quickly turn up many articles about “printable guns,” which are now, to some degree, a reality. You might choose to lead a discussion on this application, or perhaps should simply be aware of it in advance, to avoid such discussion should you deem it inappropriate or too controversial. A 2013 National Public Radio news article can provide an overview. Listen to it at: http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/02/06/171154845/using-3-d-printers-to-make-gun-parts-raises-alarms .

 

 

Facilitate Inquiry

Encourage inquiry using a strategy modeled on the research-based science writing heuristic.  Student work will vary in complexity and depth depending on grade level, prior knowledge, and creativity.  Use the prompts liberally to encourage thought and discussion. Student Copy Masters begin on page 9.

 

Explore Understanding

While humans in general have the capacity to visualize objects in three dimensions, many students may not have given much thought to how one might actually describe the three-dimensional shape of an object. In order to create an object through additive manufacturing or 3-D printing, a description is necessary, and in some way must involve coordinates of the objects surface(s). Have students discuss how one might use numbers to represent the shape of an object. After this discussion, use these or similar prompts to spark a discussion about the process of describing and producing a three-dimensional object.

         To specify a point in space, you could….

         The dimensions of an object are commonly described by….

         To produce an object with a completely enclosed hole in it, one could….

         A 3-D object can be produced from extremely thin layers by….

 

Show the video SOI: 3-D Printing and encourage students to jot down notes while they watch. Continue the discussion of additive manufacturing, including 3-D printing, using prompts such as the following:

 

(page 3)

         When I watched the video, I thought about….

         The expert in the video was inspired to create 3-D printing in order to….

         Additive manufacturing differs from subtractive manufacturing in that….

         Other uses of this process include….

         Other ways to accomplish additive manufacturing include….

         Limitations of the process featured in the video include….

         Patents enable the patent holder to….

         Other uses of this process that the inventors did not imagine include….

 

Ask Beginning Questions

Stimulate small-group discussion with the prompt: This video makes me think about these questions…. Then have groups list questions they have about the challenges that must be surmounted in order to produce three-dimensional objects by additive processes. Ask groups to choose one question and phrase it in such a way as to be researchable and/or testable. The following are some examples.

         How is information about the shape of the object stored and used in this process?

         How can I determine if a 3-D structure can be made using this technology?

         How can interior structural details be translated into manufacturing a replica of an object?

         What are some advantages of additive manufacturing over subtractive manufacturing?

         What advantages might the older subtractive method still have over additive methods?

 

Design Investigations

Choose one of the following options based on your students’ knowledge, creativity, and ability level and your available materials. Actual materials needed will vary greatly based on these factors as well.

 

Possible Materials

Allow time for students to examine and manipulate the materials you have available. Doing so often aids students in refining their questions, or prompts new ones that should be recorded for future investigation. In this inquiry, students would need a relatively simple object to replicate, but something with interior and exterior details, such as a child’s plastic car, a bundt pan or gelatin mold, or a simple ball-and-stick molecular model or heart model. Students might also use construction materials such as corrugated cardboard, tagboard, cereal box chipboard, sticks, clay, and blocks, or plastic foam blocks. Glue, tape, and simple cutting and carving tools such as scissors or plastic spoons and knives might also be used.

 

Safety Considerations

To augment your own safety procedures, see NSTA’s Safety Portal at http://www.nsta.org/portals/safety.aspx.  

 

Open Choice Approach (Copy Master page 9)

After examining the materials, groups might come together to agree on constraints for the object, such as intricacies of interior features, and the manufacturing process, such as how scale might be involved.  If working via the subtractive process, students can determine if one can use more than one large block of clay or foam. Encourage students with prompts such as the following:

(page 4)

         We will measure the coordinates of points on the surface and interior of the object by….

         We will use an additive process or a subtractive process to create our objects because….

         We will create plans to guide our manufacturing by….

         We will adjust the scale to use the materials we have available by….

         We will construct a replica of this object by….

         We will fill in missing information in the construction of the replica by….

         To conduct the investigation safely, we will….

 

Focused Approach (Copy Master page 10)

The following exemplifies how students might compare additive and subtractive manufacturing processes in replicating an object. Students might create plans and then replicate the object, or groups might act as designers to create plans and then trade off with other groups that act as manufacturers following the plans.

1.      After students examine the available materials, ask them questions such as the following to help them envision their investigation:

         How will we measure and record the coordinates of points on the surface of the object?

         How will we measure and record the coordinates of points on the interior of the object?

         Will we use an additive process or a subtractive process?

         How will we create plans to guide your manufacturing?

         Will our replica to be scale or full size?

         How do we need to adjust scale to use the materials we have available?

2.      Give students free rein in how they might try to “manufacture” the replica using an additive process of layered materials of different thicknesses, or using subtractive means by carving the item from one or more large blocks of clay or foam. Students might facilitate construction to scale using graph paper of an appropriate grid size (easily obtainable from any of several free online graph paper creating sites such as http://www.printfreegraphpaper.com). Once students have created their plans, use prompts such as the following to guide students in their thinking:

         We will “subtract” material from the clay/foam by....

         Layering materials can be used to create a three-dimensional model by….

         Blocks or layers can be formed into the correct shapes by….

         Missing data (between grid points) can be “filled in” by….

         Depressions and/or holes in the object might be missed because….

         The best way to connect the layers [or blocks] is to….

         To conduct the investigation safely, we will….

3.      Encourage students to compare their replicas to the plans and to the original objects. The manufacturing groups might suggest improvements to the planning process and vice versa. Facilitate discussion using prompts such as the following:

         Our group’s plans could have been improved by….

         Our group’s subtractive processes could have been improved by….

         Our group’s additive processes could have been improved by….

         The best manufacturing method for replicating a(n) _____ was additive (or subtractive) because….

(page 5)

 

4.      Extend the investigation by having the manufacturers use what they learned to create plans for others to manufacture. Encourage each group to improve upon, although not entirely change, the other group’s methodology.

 

Media Research Option

Groups might have questions that are best explored using print media and online resources. Students should brainstorm to form a list of key words and phrases they could use in Internet search engines that might result in resources that will help them answer the question. Review how to safely browse the Web, how to evaluate information on the Internet for accuracy, and how to correctly cite the information found. Suggest students make note of any interesting tangents they find in their research effort for future inquiry. Encourage students with prompts such as the following:

         Words and phrases associated with our question are….

         The reliability of our sources was established by….

         The science and math concepts that underpin a possible solution are….

         Our research might feed into an engineering design solution such as….

         To conduct the investigation safely, we will….

 

Make a Claim Backed by Evidence

Students should analyze their data and then make one or more claims based on the evidence their data shows. Encourage students with this prompt: As evidenced by… we claim… because….

 

An example claim might be:

As evidenced bythe replication of internal detail, we claim that an additive manufacturing process was better for replicating the toy car because we were able to add internal details almost like those in the actual car.

 

Compare Findings

Encourage students to compare their ideas with those of others—such as classmates who investigated the same or similar questions; material they found on the Internet; experts who were interviewed; or their textbooks. Remind students to credit their original sources in their comparisons. Elicit comparisons from students with prompts such as the following:

         My manufacturing process was comparable to the methods described in the video in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those that I found on the Internet in that….

 

Students might make comparisons like the following:

As compared to the actual 3-D printing in the video, my replica of the object is less accurate a reproduction of an original because my layers are much thicker than those generated in Cima and Sachs’ system.

 

 

 

(page 6)

 

Reflect on Learning

Students should reflect on their understanding, thinking about how their ideas have changed or what they know now that they didn’t before. Encourage reflection using prompts such as the following:

         A claim made by the expert in the video is….

         I support or refute the expert’s claim because, in my investigation,….

         When thinking about the method used in the video, I am confused as to how….

         A related technology I would like to explore is….

 

Inquiry Assessment

See the rubric included in the student Copy Masters on page 11.

 

 

Incorporate Video into Your Lesson Plan

 

Integrate Video in Instruction

Bellringer:  Play the video as students are getting settled on a day when your lesson is in some way related to manufacturing (for example, regarding the role of science in the Industrial Revolution, or more recent developments). Have students note two ways (i.e., subtractive and additive) by which a three-dimensional object can be fabricated. Use their observations as a springboard for points in your lesson.

 

Homework: Have students research CT (sometimes called CAT) scanning, a non-invasive medical test that helps doctors diagnose and treat medical conditions. CT scanning combines special x-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of a body. These cross-sectional images of the area being studied can then be examined on a computer monitor, printed, or transferred to a compact disc to refer to at a later time. Make sure students understand the analogy between these scans and 3-D printing.

 

Using the 5E Approach?

If you use a 5E approach to lesson plans, consider incorporating video in these Es:

Explore:  Use the Design Investigations section of Facilitate Inquiry to support your efforts to have students engage in hands-on activities.

Elaborate: Have students brainstorm to identify existing methods of manufacturing three-dimensional objects. Examples might include using a cast or form, sculpting, whittling, drilling, routing, or assembling from previously fabricated parts.

 

Connect to … sTeM

Technology

Encourage interested students to research “desktop” 3-D printers such as those designed by MakerBot and discuss how the design constraints of the printers both enhance and limit the manufacturing process. Students might begin their research at sites such as these.

         http://www.makerbot.com/

         http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/3-d-printers-could-bring-manufacturing-to-your-home-office/2013/01/07/2b42bdb8-56be-11e2-a613-ec8d394535c6_story.html

(page 7)

Math

Students might research to compare and contrast the cost and environmental impacts of additive and subtractive manufacturing processes for similar items and summarize their findings in graphs and charts as appropriate. They might also develop a proposal to solicit business from a new client with their findings, emphasizing the advantages of one method over another.

 

Prompt Innovation with Video

After students watch the video, have them research patents associated with 3-D printing. They can do so with an Internet search on Google.com/patents using search terms such as the following. If time is limited, point students toward the patent examples.

 

• Extrusion

• Lamination

• Printhead

• Discrete

• Solid Freeform Fabrication

• Sintering

• Prototying

• Vulcanization

• 3-D printing

• Three dimensional printing

• Additive manufacturing

• Subtractive manufacturing

• Themoplastic powder

• Metal powders

• Photopolymer

• Liquid resin

 

Patent Examples

US 6,164,850 – 3-D Printing and Forming of Structures; claims direct to printing method

US 7,291,002 – Apparatus and Methods for 3-D Printing; claims direct to printing apparatus

US 8,175,734 – Methods and System for Enabling Printing Three-Dimensional Object Models; claims direct to a printing method and a computer system (apparatus) used with the method.

US 2012/0165969 – 3-D Printing on a Rotating Cylindrical Surface; claims direct to a printing method and a printing device (apparatus) used with the method. NOTE: This is only a publication of a patent pending. Make sure students realize the difference between a patent that has been granted and one that is pending.

 

Suggest students read abstracts of patents that attract their attention. Then hold a discussion about how various innovators are improving on the process. Use prompts such as the following:

         This patent is for _____, which is related to the invention shown in the video by….

         This patent describes _____, which differs from the invention shown in the video in that….

         I think doing/making _____ would be an innovation because….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(page 8)

Copy Master: Open Choice Inquiry Guide for Students

 

SOI: 3-D Printing

Use this guide to investigate how additive and subtractive manufacturing processes compare. Write your lab report in your science notebook.

 

Ask Beginning Questions

The video makes me think about these questions….

 

Design Investigations

Choose one question. How can you answer it? Brainstorm with your teammates. Look up information as needed. Write a plan and then carry it out. Add safety precautions.

         Information we need to understand before we can start our investigation is….

         We will measure the coordinates of points on the surface and interior of the object by….

         We will use an additive process (or a subtractive process) because….

         We will create plans to guide our manufacturing by….

         We will adjust the scale to use the materials we have available by….

         We will construct a replica of this object by….

         We will fill in missing information in the construction of the replica by….

         To conduct the investigation safely, we will….

 

Record Data and Observations

Record your observations. Organize your data in tables or graphs as appropriate.

 

Make a Claim Backed by Evidence

Analyze your data and then make one or more claims based on the evidence your data shows. Make sure that the claim goes beyond summarizing the relationship between the variables.

 

My Evidence

My Claim

My Reason

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compare Findings

Review the video and then discuss your results with classmates who did the same activity. Or do research on the Internet or talk with an expert. How do your methods compare? Be sure to give credit to others when you use their methods in your comparisons.

         My manufacturing process is comparable to the methods described in the video in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that….

 

Reflect on Learning

Think about what you found out. How does it fit with what you already knew? How does it change what you thought you knew?

         A claim made by the expert in the video is….

         I support or refute the expert’s claim because in my investigation….

         When thinking about the method used in the video, I am confused as to how….

         A related technology I would like to explore is….

 

(page 9)

Copy Master: Focused Inquiry Guide for Students

 

SOI: 3-D Printing

Use this guide to investigate how additive and subtractive manufacturing processes compare. Write your lab report in your science notebook.

 

Ask Beginning Questions

How can we best manufacture a replica of an object?

 

Design Investigations

Brainstorm with your teammates about how to manufacture a replica. Look up information as needed. Write a procedure to follow. Add safety precautions. Use these prompts to help you.

         Information we need to understand before we can start our investigation is….

         The materials we will use are….

         The measurements we will make include….

         We will use the additive process (or subtractive process) to make our replica by....

         We will determine the scale of our replica by ….

         We will add material or take it away using….

         To conduct the investigation safely, we will….

 

Create a Manufacturing Plan

Organize your thoughts into a plan that others can follow to manufacture a replica either by an additive or a subtractive manufacturing processes.

 

Make a Claim Backed by Evidence

Analyze your replicas and observations and then make one or more claims based on the evidence you observe. Make sure that the claim goes beyond summarizing the investigation.

 

My Evidence

My Claim

My Reason

 

 

 

 

 

Compare Findings

Review the video and then discuss your results with classmates who did the same activity. Or do research on the Internet or talk with an expert. How do your methods compare? Be sure to give credit to others when you use their methods in your comparisons.

         My manufacturing process compared to the methods described in the video in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those that I found on the Internet in that….

 

Reflect on Learning

Think about what you found out. How does it fit with what you already knew? How does it change what you thought you knew?

         A claim made by the expert in the video is….

         I support or refute the expert’s claim because in my investigation….

         When thinking about the method used in the video, I am confused as to how….

         A related technology I would like to explore is….

 

(page 10)


 

Copy Master: Assessment Rubric for Inquiry Investigations

 

 

Criteria

1 point

2 points

3 points

Initial question

Question had a yes/no answer, was off topic, or otherwise was not researchable or testable.

Question was researchable or testable but too broad or not answerable by the chosen investigation.

Question clearly stated, researchable or testable, and showed direct relationship to investigation.

Investigation design

The design of the investigation did not support a response to the initial question.

While the design supported the initial question, the procedure used to investigate the question was not sufficient.

Variables were clearly identified and controlled as needed with steps and trials that resulted in data that could be used to answer the question.

Safety procedures

Basic laboratory safety procedures were followed, but practices specific to the activity were not identified.

Some, but not all, of the safety equipment was used and only some safe practices needed for this investigation were followed.

Appropriate safety equipment used and safe practices adhered to.

Observations and data

Observations were not made or recorded, and data are unreasonable in nature, not recorded, or do not reflect what actually took place during the investigation.

Observations were made, but were not very detailed, or data appear invalid or were not recorded appropriately.

Detailed observations were made and properly recorded and data are plausible and recorded appropriately.

Claim

No claim was made or the claim had no relationship to the evidence used to support it.

Claim was marginally related to evidence from investigation.

Claim was backed by investigative or research evidence.

Findings comparison

Comparison of findings was limited to a description of the initial question.

Comparison of findings was not supported by the data collected.

Comparison of findings included both methodology and data collected by at least one other entity.

Reflection

Student reflections were limited to a description of the procedure used.

Student reflections were not related to the initial question.

Student reflections described at least one impact on thinking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(page 11)

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