Griffith pioneers 3D printing education

With the ability to produce a tangible object from a digital blueprint fast becoming a reality, the Queensland College of Art Griffith University has taken a leading position in the world of Additive Manufacturing education.

According to lecturer Dr Jennifer Loy, this transformative technology has the potential to completely alter the future of design and manufacturing — and we’ve only just begun to see the possibilities.

“Additive Manufacturing, or 3D printing, changes the game from mass production to mass customisation. A designer can now create a unique product of the highest quality without having to invest in costly moulds and rely on sales to recoup their investment,” she said.

The technology creates objects by building layers using plastic, ceramic or metal and is based on the notion of producing one-off pieces without the need for moulds. It can be used in a range of disciplines and for a myriad of products from jewellery to fashion, aerospace to automotive, dental to medical devices.

“It will change the way we think about business — the creation of spare parts for example, would no longer have to be made in advance in case something breaks down. Instead customers could download the file and have the part printed locally — sometimes even printing parts themselves from the comfort of their own homes,” she said.

From this year, the QCA’s Bachelor of Digital Media program on Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus will include 3D Printing. The 3D Design major will also incorporate the potential of its technologies to change the role of 3D designers in the future.

“Students get hands-on experience of digital fabrication and 3D printing right from the word go and have ongoing access to 3D printers throughout their degree,” she said.

“They are the new breed of digital natives – working across 3D disciplines to translate 3D on screen into 3D reality as objects. They will also have the opportunity to work with online customers to create their own objects as digital entrepreneurs.

“It is an exciting area of design that combines graphics and product design to meet the needs of the market.”

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