Politecnico di Milano, Department of Design (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 4450-4456
ISBN: 978-84-09-45476-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2022.1073
Conference name: 15th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 7-9 November, 2022
Location: Seville, Spain
The educational path related to Design as a discipline is constituted by the transfer of various knowledge, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary, for the constitution of professionals proficient in both the conception and communication of solutions responding to the principles of innovation, ethics, and usability towards third parties. This ability is transferable to undergraduate students in schools of Design through teachings in which the typical practice of Design as a discipline is conventionally structured, and through the reasoned and organized use of multiple tools and techniques promptly declined on specific projects.

At the same time, the democratization of technologies - in their increasing accessibility - and their relative use in the most cross-cutting fields has led students to treat such tools and techniques improperly. In particular, they are no longer perceived as vehicles for design opportunities but as elements that can provide design shortcuts for the representation/exposition of an idea.

This shift in meaning is particularly noticeable when examining the field of additive manufacturing.

With this premise, the authors want to show how it’s possible to create learning opportunities that run counter to this kind of approach of reducing the value of technology as an element of the designing experience.

In this sense, the experience of the Passion in Action activity "Design for 3D Printing Assembly", acknowledged as a moment of extracurricular credits given by the School of Design, and organized within the university Fab Lab, is reported. This experience was created to provide training on digital fabrication and 3D printing to a party of twenty students from the MSc and final year of the BSc programs of the School of Design of Politecnico di Milano.

This event shows the potential of the project-based learning (PBL) teaching approach to motivate and integrate conventional student learning curricula. Lessons in design, digital fabrication, and 3D printing were structured from classical lecture-application-based models and the PBL approach. Thus, the purpose of the experience was:
(1) to analyze and understand the peculiarities and critical issues of Fused Deposition Modeling 3D printing technology,
(2) to make functional objects responsive to the five proposed briefs, emphasizing the peculiarities of the technology and highlighting the acquisition of the expected learning outcomes.

Throughout the crash course lasting a total of two days, the students – divided into groups – integrated their notions about the world of additive manufacturing, embraced a new design perspective and strategy for informed use of the 3D printer, and generated concepts from almost defined brief, developed a concept through modeling geometries and systematic testing of the proposed solutions, and finalized the design output with its collective production and presentation.
Student satisfaction was recorded regarding expanding personal skills and knowledge and the reduced time spent to achieve those results. This peculiarity, typical of the PBL approach, finds particularly fertile ground in the encounter with the world of 3D printing as they amplify each other.

In the concluding part of the contribution, elements that can be considered at a mature level of efficiency and effectiveness will be highlighted, as well as those that can still be further scaled up and implemented to improve and/or decline the experimental course format.
3D printing, PBL approach, design for 3D printing, hands-on course, learning by technology.