3D printing provides professional option for electronic prototype

For his first 3D printed work-related project, Sky Bartels had to design a highly specific housing for an electronic circuit board prototype. After 5 attempts, he was confident enough in his creation to submit it to his client.


Photo curtesy of Sky Bartels

“The nice thing with 3D printing is its capability to create a complete finished part from a 3D model, as well as its low price and ease of use,” Bartels said.

Bartels is a CSU mechanical engineering student currently working at MDot design. He works primarily with 3D printing, design and fabrication. The company focuses mostly on startups. Recently, a client came to him to to request a 3D printed enclosure for their electronic prototype.

In order to make the enclosure, Bartels took the circuit board prototype and made a solid model using Solidworks software.

Once he had the circuit board enclosure, Bartels helped his client personalize the project with a logo. He also designed the box with specific technical purposes.

“The enclosure is unique because it includes a printed in logo and internal cable strain relief,” Bartels said.

According to Bartels, it is difficult to promote enthusiasm from investors by simply showing them a circuit board.

“ It’s very hard to show a bare board to investors and elicit any kind of excitement.  With the 3D printed enclosure it has a professional durable appearance,” Bartels said.

Bartels first heard about the lab from a mechatronics engineering class he took at CSU. After he did a group project using I2P, he started using 3D printing for his design job.

In addition to MDot design projects, Bartels is working on making his own 3D Printer while improving specific parts to it.

Business students create a prototype using 3D printing

CSU students Andy Piel and Ty Lebsock  found clarity after they discovered a way to use the I2P lab for their invention. The business

Image courtesy of Ty Lebsock

Image courtesy of Ty Lebsock

students finally found a way to create a prototype for an innovative ice scraper they formulated together.

The two students have been working on the product idea since 2012.

“Since we are one out of the several groups that has an actual physical product to sell, we always have wanted to create a prototype.  It was then the professor told us that over in the engineer building there is a 3D printing lab where students print 3D personal ideas and prototypes for business ideas all the time,” Lebsock said.

This particular ice scraper was created by Lebsock and Piel as a prototype for a project in their New Ventures entrepreneurship class. They heard about I2P through their professor. After talking to people in the Lab, they were able to move forward with building a prototype for their business plan.

“(I2P) did more than help us; they drew our prototype on their computer in less than five minutes and gave us suggestions of how we can improve our product. After that they told us that they could print it right away which was a relief simply because finally we would have a prototype after all,” Lebsock said.

According to Lebsock, their model aids in scraping ice off windshields and cars. With their invention, early morning ice removal would take much less time than it would with the average windshield scraper. The students created the product in hopes it would add some ease to a person’s busy life.

“Our model is unique simply because there is nothing like it out there on the market,” Lebsock said. “We think about the families and students who are so busy that this one thing in their life might make a difference in their day at school or work.”


One of the first 3D-printed buildings produced

The 3D printed building. Image courtesy of Deanna Cox.

The 3D printed building. Image courtesy of Deanna Cox.

Holding an entire building in the palm of his hand, Craig Egan had finally done it – he created one of the first architectural 3D-printed replicas of a building.

Using 3D printing to create architectural models is a new innovation. The I2P Lab was the first to complete the structure by successfully printing the Scott Bioengineering Building.

The Scott Bioengineering Building is a facility located on the CSU campus. Its construction was completed in time to be used for the Fall 2013 semester. According to Egan, the building has modern features and follows integrated design guidelines from the Leadership Energy and Environmental Design.

“I appreciate their playfulness with the form of a building itself and how they include the passive cooling/heating and daylighting system with trellis and overhangs,” Egan said. “The interior details are unique as well as the exterior details.”

A model like this can be used to showcase the building to visitors, students and staff. The 3D model provides a new understanding for the building that the typical 2D floor plan does not provide.

This first completed model paves the way to using 3D printing to create models for future architecture. According to Egan, 3D printing is a tool that could save time and money for architects. A building model could be completed in several hours depending on specifications.

“What is most important for people to know about the project is that printing 3-D model can save a lot of time and money,” Egan said. “This model is a successful display of the building because of the 3-D printing.”