15-294 Rapid Prototyping Technologies
Monday / Wednesday 6:30 ‐ 7:50 in Hunt A10
Units: 5.0, Section: A3
Instructor: Professor David S. Touretzky (just "Dave" is fine)
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org; office phone 412-268-7561
- Office location: Gates-Hillman Center, room 9013
- Office hours: drop by any evening, or email for an appointment
This course introduces rapid prototyping to students with no prior
experience in the subject. It is designed to give you three things:
After completing the course you will have access to the IDeATe laser
cutting and 3D printing facilities for the rest of your time here at
CMU. You are welcome to use these facilities for future class
projects, research, or personal projects.
The only prerequisite for the course is moderate facility in Python
programming, equivalent to having taken 15-104 or 15-112 (but not
15-110). There will be two Python assignments.
- The skills to design and fabricate artifacts using CAD
(Computer Aided Design) software, laser cutting, and 3D printing.
- An understanding of some of the computer representations and
algorithms that underlie these technologies.
- An understanding of the current state of the art in 3D
printing, and the many ways 3D printing is impacting society, from
aeronautical design to medical technology.
After taking this course, you will be able to:
- Design complex two and three dimensional artifacts in SolidWorks.
- Safely operate a laser cutter and 3D printer.
- Combine fabricated parts with appropriate off-the-shelf hardware such as
standoffs and threaded fasteners to produce functional objects.
- Write Python code to procedurally generate DXF files for laser
cutting or STL files for 3D printing, to go beyond what CAD software alone can do.
- There is no textbook for the course.
- All software required for this course has been installed on the
IDeATe MacBooks which can be checked out from the IDeATe lending
booth. You also have the option of installing the software on
your personal laptop. See the Software
Setup page for instructions on how to do that.
- Two recommended books for
those who want to go deeper into the 3D printing are:
- The IDeATe
Resources site has information about IDeATe equipment, courses,
policies, and more.
SolidWorks 2017 Essential Training at Lynda.com may be useful to you; log
There are no exams in this class. The final course grade will be
calculated using the following categories:
|Assignment #1: Spirograph ||5 points|
|Assignment #2: Trees||10 points|
|Assignment #3: Pascaline||20 points|
|Assignment #4: Molecule||10 points|
|Assignment #5: Duck||15 points|
|Final Project||30 points|
|Total|| 100 points|
The following letter grades will be assigned based on calculations coming
from the course assessment section.
- In Assignment 1 you will make spirograph gears. It teaches you basic SolidWorks skills
and gives you experience with the laser cutter.
- In Assignment 2 you will recursively generate random binary
trees and do some geometrical calculations in Python to turn your
trees into DXF files that you can take to the laser cutter. Now
you'll be able to make more complex things than is possible with CAD
- In Assignment 3 you will work in pairs to create a cusomized
replica of the Pascaline, the first mechanical calculator.
Assembling the Pascaline will give you some basic mechanical
skills and teach you how to incorporate off the shelf components
such as screws, springs, and threaded standoffs into your
- In Assignment 4 you will create a 3D model of an ethanol
molecule and 3D print it. This will give you practice working
with 3D shapes in SolidWorks, and teach you how to use the 3D
printers available in IDeATe.
- In Assignment 5 you will write Python code to generate a custom
version of a model rubber duck, which you will write out as an STL
file. This will give you experience working with triangular meshes,
which is a popular technique for digitally representing 3D
- For the final project, which is 30% of your grade, you will
design, fabricate, and document something meaningful to you,
drawing on the various techniques you learned in the course. Your
project will be displayed in the class gallery.
|Grade ||Percentage Interval|
|A ||90% - 100%|
|B ||80% - 89%|
|C ||70% - 79%|
|D ||65 - 69%|
|R (F) ||below 65%|
- Late-work policy: Assignments are due at 11:59 pm on the
date shown in the class schedule. They can be submitted up to two
days late at a cost of 1 point per day. Assignments more than 2
days late will not be accepted.
- Make-up work policy: Students can make up work if they
miss a deadline due to illness (with a doctor's note).
- Re-grade policy: If you believe your assignment was
graded incorrectly, please contact the TA who graded it. We will be
happy to take another look.
- Attendance policy: Attendance is worth 10% of your
grade. A sign-in sheet will be circulated at the beginning of each class.
You will be allowed 3 unexcused absences without penalty.
Additional absences incur a 10 point penalty. Excused absences
include illness (with a doctor's note), and participation in
certain university-sponsored activities such as a tean sporting
event. Job interviews and other personal activities do not
qualify as excused absences.
- Academic Integrity and Collaboration: The work you
submit in this course must be your own, with the exception of the
Pascaline assignment which is done in pairs. You are welcome to
help or receive help from your fellow students on general matters
such as how to fix a SolidWorks error, but you may not share your
SolidWorks files with other students, collaborate on writing Python
code, or in any other way submit or take credit for work that is not
purely your own.
For final projects, it is common to take inspiration from and build
upon the work of others. This is permissible provided that you
cite your sources and explain how you went beyond their work to
make the project your own.
- Class Communication: We will use Piazza as our primary
means of online communication. Please ask questions via Piazza
rather than emailing the instructor or TAs directly, so that your
fellow students can benefit from the discussion. Sometimes a
classmate may be able to answer your question more quickly than the
instructor or TAs.
- Use of the IDeATe Facility: Please read and become
familiar with the
and purchasing policies, which can be accessed
at resources.ideate.cmu.edu. Please
note that fines may be imposed for late return of equipment.
The IDeATe facilities are shared student resources and spaces. As
such, all members of the IDeATe community are expected to be
respectful of the equipment, the spaces, and fellow students and
their projects. Always clean up after completing your work, put
things back in their correct place, and leave the lab in better
condition than you found it.
- Reporting Problems to IDeATe: if you encounter problems
with the laser cutters or 3D printers, please talk to the staff in
the IDeATe lending booth, or email email@example.com. That account
is monitored by multiple staff persons and is the quickest way to get
- Purchase of Materials: While we will provide you with
some materials, you may need to purchase additional materials to
complete class projects. For convenience, some materials are
available for purchase at IDeATe Lending (Hunt A29). Additional
materials, such as wood, can be purchased at the CMU Art Store in the
Cohon University Center. Scrap materials, located in the bins
opposite the laser cutters, are free for anyone to use.
- Accomodations for Students with Disabilities: If you have
a disability and have an accommodations letter from the Disability
Resources office, I encourage you to discuss your accommodations and
needs with me as early in the semester as possible. I will work with
you to ensure that accommodations are provided as appropriate. If you
suspect that you may have a disability and would benefit from
accommodations but are not yet registered with the Office of
Disability Resources, I encourage you to contact them at
- Statement of Support for Students' Health and Well-Being:
Take care of yourself. Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle
this semester by eating well, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol,
getting enough sleep, and taking some time to relax. This will help
you achieve your goals and cope with stress.
All of us benefit from support during times of struggle. There are
many helpful resources available on campus and an important part of
the college experience is learning how to ask for help. Asking for
support sooner rather than later is almost always helpful.
If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult
life events, or feelings of anxiety or depression, we strongly
encourage you to seek support. Counseling and Psychological Services
(CaPS) is here to help: call 412-268-2922 and visit their website at
reaching out to a friend, faculty or family member you trust for help
getting connected to the support that can help.
Please see the course schedule page for a
list of lectures, assignment issue dates, assignment due dates, and
office hours sessions.
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