TAFE incorporates 3D printing into training course

TAFE Queensland SkillsTech foundry teacher Anthony Freemantle has incorporated a 3D printer into his teaching program.

Now students can make making prototypes of new products – anything from a component used in a car door right through to a body model of a new car – in a matter of minutes as opposed to weeks or even months.

The new technology was purchased by the college a little over a month ago and Freemantle has been quick off the mark to into his course.

“It’s going to change the way we do things,” explained Freemantle (pictured).

“The ability to hold an object in your hands and to use your hand-eye coordination to understand its peculiarities further enhances design skills and enriches the art of engineering.

“It’s particularly helpful for complex structures that aren’t easily captured or understood in two dimensions, such as those made in TAFE Queensland SkillsTech’s foundry,” he said.

The largest training facility of its type in the Southern Hemisphere, TAFE Queensland SkillsTech’s foundry is where metal objects are made by melting metal and pouring it into moulds – the types of objects used for heavy engineering purposes in a range of industries including manufacturing, transport, mining and resources.

The rollout of 3D printing for foundry applications rests primarily in pattern and tool making and the subsequent savings it offers: both in terms of material waste and time.

“Game changer is an understatement,” continued Freemantle.

“For the same application, 3D printing has virtually no waste and is significantly quicker and more efficient.

“In many ways, 3D printing can be seen as an extension of computer aided design (CAD) – it’s the process of making a three-dimensional solid object of any shape from a digital file,” he said.

These objects are highly accurate representations and can be made in true size or as a scaled model. Various materials are available and can be manipulated in different ways.

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