Additive manufacturing, also widely known as 3D printing, is dramatically transforming how products are designed, produced and serviced. For example, the Ford Motor Company is now exploring how to print lightweight parts on a large scale, while the Emirates airline is already 3D printing interior components for its aircraft cabins.

As new kinds of 3D printing materials are introduced and new technologies are developed – MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab and Steelcase recently created a way to print inside liquid gel – there will be more business applications across many industries. However, a lack of knowledge of the fundamental principles of additive manufacturing remains an obstacle to much wider and quicker adoption.

Addressing this issue, MIT has created a new online course aimed at career professionals – from engineers to executives – that covers both the technical and business aspects of 3D printing. In the 9-week course, Additive Manufacturing for Innovative Design and Production, MIT faculty will provide an in-depth understanding on how to create new products, processes and business models using this evolving technology. No prior 3D printing or CAD experience is necessary.

Learners who successfully complete the course will receive a Digital Certificate in Additive Manufacturing from MIT.

The course, which begins on Monday, April 30, aims to equip participants with the skills and knowledge to architect and implement innovative uses of additive manufacturing at their companies. It is administered by MIT xPRO, which provides online professional development programs taught by MIT faculty and leverages the latest learning technologies.

Participants will learn:

  • The vocabulary necessary to navigate the complex, multivariate landscape of additive manufacturing equipment, materials, and applications.
  • The operating principles of each mainstream AM process and how these principles govern its performance and limitations.
  • The means to identify how, when, and where additive manufacturing can create value across the entire product lifecycle, from design concepts to end-of-life.
  • The skills necessary to design parts for AM that combine engineering intuition with computationally-driven design and process-specific constraints.
  • How to assess the value of an additively manufactured part based on its production cost and performance.
  • How to evaluate the business case for transitioning a product to be additively manufactured vs. traditionally manufactured, in part or in whole; and for the use of additively manufactured tooling and service parts in current and future operations.
  • A cutting-edge perspective on digital transformation and the factory of the future.

A detailed course outline and FAQs can be found here.

Why MIT xPRO is Teaching With Onshape

An Onshape 3D CAD model of MIT’s iconic Great Dome building, which has anchored the campus since 1916.

According to Haden Edward Quinlan, program manager for MIT’s Center for Additive and Digital Advanced Production Technologies (ADAPT), Onshape was chosen as the course’s CAD platform because it can instantly scale to any level of enrollment in a secure cloud workspace.

“We have thousands of learners and we need to deliver nine weeks worth of technical engineering-based content,” notes Quinlan. “Our professional development courses don’t have the low teacher-to-student ratio that we have at MIT. It’s not one professor for every 20 students. It’s one professor for every N students, where N could be 500 or 500,000. It doesn’t make a difference.”

“MIT xPRO prides itself on having a great user experience, so it’s extremely valuable that Onshape allows us to have a preloaded private workspace where we can have curated materials, tutorials, PDF documentation and models of all the parts they’ll need. Learners don’t need to upload or download anything. There really is no other solution like it,” he adds.

David Katzman, Onshape’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, says MIT’s professional development courses are an ideal testing ground to demonstrate the full impact of a modern cloud CAD system. “MIT is always ahead of the curve teaching the best industry practices and new technologies,” he says. “Onshape is uniquely capable of delivering a worldwide robust design platform to a large volume of users with little to no IT hassle. We’re delighted to expand our partnership.”

MIT xPRO has previously used Onshape for two of its short programs, “Advances in Computer-Aided Design for Manufacturing” led by Prof. Wojciech Matusik; and “Additive Manufacturing: From 3D Printing to the Factory Floor,” led by Prof. John Hart. Both MIT professors are also instructors in the new additive manufacturing course.

“We received really positive feedback about Onshape from those courses and we’ve also used it with MIT undergraduates,” Quinlan says. “We haven’t done data analysis on this, but anecdotally, the design teams using Onshape communicate with each other more effectively.”

“What’s especially valuable for us is that Onshape lets learners easily share CAD models with other learners and have them review and comment on them. This is really imperative for the kind of case study work in this course because it heavily relies on peer review.”

Lastly, Quinlan says that he looks forward to using Onshape’s advanced analytics to determine which tutorials, supplemental materials and practice exercises people interact with the most, and which ones they don’t complete. “I think we’ll see some very interesting patterns of behavior that will help us improve future courses. We’re always looking for opportunities to get better,” he says.