3D Printing Class First of its Kind at NDSU

A course focusing on three-dimensional (3D) printing was offered for the first time in the fall of 2021 through the NDSU Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABEN). Agricultural Systems Management 291– Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing was offered as a trial course in the ABEN curriculum.  

Seventeen of the available 20 seats were filled for the first class, which was taught by Matthew Olhoft, a senior lecturer in the ABEN department.  

Olhoft has been involved with 3D printers for several years and recently attended a major conference on additive manufacturing.  

“There is a need for our young engineers coming out of NDSU to be more aware of what they can do with additive manufacturing,” says Olhoft. “More and more companies are switching over to additive manufacturing, which is the process of joining materials to make 3D objects from 3D model data. There’s just a lot more flexibility and the cost factors tend to be a lot cheaper, especially for producing prototype parts.”  

The class starts with a brief history of 3D printing, then moves into the different types of 3D printing and the different materials that can be used. It then explores the process of printing, from designing a project to printing the product. The class toured the manufacturing facilities of LulzBot in Fargo and Fargo 3D-Fuel, which manufactures filament.  

The president of LulzBot is a graduate of the NDSU Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department. Laser-etching, cutting and 3D scanning also were covered during the course.  

“In the not-too-distant future, a lot of the parts that you need for machines will probably come to you via the internet,” predicts Olhoft. “You’ll purchase a 3D file and then you’ll actually print the part at your location or a local business.”  

A farmer, for example, could go to a local supplier who will receive the file and print the part for pick-up the same day, Olhoft pointed out.  

“We believe it is essential for our ABEN students to be at the forefront of today's technology,” says David Buchanan, NDSU College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources associate dean. “This class provides hands-on learning opportunities for students wanting to be leaders in 3D printing technology.”  


Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Matthew Olhoft, 701-231-7269, matthew.olhoft@ndsu.edu

(Original story by Luann Dart.) 


Top of page