3D Printing

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What is 3D Printing: 3D printing is a concept based upon the principle of turning a digital model into a physical three-dimensional object by adding material one layer at a time. Every 3D printing project must begin with a digital 3D model functioning as a blueprint of the physical object. Then the model is sliced by the printer’s software into thin, 2D layers and turned into a set of instructions in machine language for the printer to execute. After this, the printer’s work will depend on the platform type you are using. Some printers melt plastic filaments and lay it down onto the print platform through a nozzle. Larger printers will use a laser to melt thin layers of metal or plastic powders. Materials used will also vary by process.

Uses: 3D printing can be used to create objects such as dental and eyewear products, prosthetics, movie props, fossils in archeology and to reconstruct damaged evidence from crime scenes.


Ultimate Guide(11:24 min)


Mashable Explains (2:21 min)


  • Comprehensive guide to 3D Printing: Stratasys
  • What is 3D printing? - The Definitive Guide: Hubs (downloadable pdf)
  • Infographic/Article of market projections/timelines: 3DHubs


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Cal Poly Centers and Institutes

  • Cal Poly Additive Manufacturing Lab - Includes a stat-of-the-art Selective Laser Melting (SLM) machine on loan from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
  • CAED Digital Fabrication Lab – students can pay to get their 3D creations made
  • Innovation Sandbox – has 18 Ultimaker 3D printers and help student print and prototype their projects

Academic Programs and Courses

  • IME 432: Engineering principles, materials, equipment, design for manufacturing, process flow, post processing, and applications of additive manufacturing processes, including: photopolymerization, powder bed fusion, extrusion, direct energy deposition, printing, binder jetting, and sheet lamination. Process selection, environment considerations, safety, and cost analysis for manufacturing. 3 lectures, 1 laboratory.
  • ART 384: Digital 3D Modeling and Design (Development of skills and techniques in the use of three-dimensional design and modeling via digital technology. Capabilities of current software in the design and modeling of three-dimensional form)
  • GRC 437: Advanced Consumer Packaging (Business processes associated with designing, selling packaging for consumer brands. 2D/3D software, user experience design, sustainability, prototyping, marketing, profitability, sales for global consumer product goods industry)

Student Clubs and Local Resources

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Internship Opportunities

Professional Associations and LinkedIn Groups

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Sample Job Titles

  • 3D Printer Manufacturing Intern
  • 3D Printer Software Engineer
  • Additive Manufacturing Engineer/Intern
  • IT Specialist and Quality Analyst
  • Lab Technician
  • Marketing Coordinator (for start-up 3D printing companies)
  • Materials Scientist

Job Listing Websites

Top Companies

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