15-394 Intermediate Rapid Prototyping
Monday / Wednesday 2:20 ‐ 3:40, Hunt Library 106B or virtual in Zoom
Units: 5.0, Section: A4
This course introduces students to more advanced techniques in rapid
prototyping, building upon skills learned in the introductory course
15-294 (Rapid Prototyping Technologies). It covers three main topics:
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 fluency in SolidWorks at a
level comparable to what is taught in 15-294. Also, you should know
how to use the IDeATe laser cutters, but if you don't, the TA's can
- Mechanism design and physics-based simulation in SolidWorks.
- Parametric design and computational geometry using Grasshopper.
- 3D scanning, mesh manipulation, and 3D printing.
After taking this course, you will be able to:
- Recognize and describe mechanisms such as four bar linkages, cams, and gear trains.
- Design mechanisms in SolidWorks.
- Construct physics-based simulations of the mechanisms you design.
- Produce photo-realistic renderings of mechanisms.
- Design parameterized 3D structures in Grasshopper.
- Export structures from Grasshopper for 3D printing.
- Produce 3D scans of small objects.
- Manipulate mesh representations of scanned objects.
- 3D print complex shapes using dissolvable support material.
- There is no textbook for the course.
- The software required for this course has been installed on the
IDeATe laptops which can be checked out from the IDeATe lending
booth. The software is also available on machines in the Windows
clusters. You also have the option of installing the software on
your personal laptop via the Andrew software repository. For
Rhino/Grasshopper, which is used in the second half of the course,
you can download a free trial copy that is good for 90 days.
- Cabaret Mechanical Movement,
a guide to automaton design.
- The IDeATe
Resources site has information about IDeATe equipment, courses,
policies, and more.
SolidWorks 2019 Essential Training at Lynda.com may be
useful to you; log in here.
Essential Training at Lynda.com may also be useful.
There are no exams in this class. The final course grade will be
calculated using the following categories:
|Assignment #1: Mechanism||20 points|
|Assignment #2: Automaton ||20 points|
|Assignment #3: Parametric surface||20 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 select a complex mechanism from a
library of choices, impelement that mechanism, and simulate it.
- In Assignment 2 you will design an automaton using cams and other mechanisms.
- In Assignment 3 you will modify a Grasshopper program
to produce a complex 3D surface.
- For the final project, which is a substantial fraction 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
|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 team 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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Back to 15-394 course home page