Innovative Education in Additive Manufacturing in China

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Lin, Feng
Zhang, Lei
Zhang, Ting
Wang, Jia
Zhang, Renji

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University of Texas at Austin


Beginning in 1992, China began to conduct research on additive manufacturing (AM) (i.e., rapid prototyping manufacturing or solid freeform fabrication). These studies included three main areas: processes, equipment, and applications in different fields. At the same time, various educational initiatives in AM were also begun. Regarding the first area, a number of courses related to AM are now being offered in universities and colleges, and not just in those that have already developed research programs on AM, such as Tsinghua University, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, and South China University of Technology, as well as some higher vocational schools. Owing to the orientation of these colleges and schools, their focus tends to be on the practical applicability of the courses they offer. In addition to the lectures they offer, all of these universities and colleges are equipped with a laboratory or resources for experiments, and have brought in equipment on which students can practice operating software (3D CAD. etc.) and make prototypes of their own design. Along with the development of AM research in China, the proportion of equipment in Chinese production is increasing as well. Moreover, these courses offer lectures, employ Ph.D. students as teaching assistants for undergraduate or junior college students, and also offer training related to creative design and manufacturing for postgraduates. This training has produced good results, in that it requires postgraduates to combine what they have learnt during lectures with their own research. In addition, associations and companies have played an important role in the development of AM in China by interacting with society and offering a number of seminars and workshops. There are many companies that offer courses for people with specific interests, and courses for engineers and technicians have created a boom in AM in China’s automobile industry. A number of associations and companies have even jointly organized design competitions in vocational schools. When students participate in these competitions they become familiar with the advanced technology of AM, an experience that is very important for their future work.


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