Start New Search 3D printed device used by wounded veteran to put on deodorant.

3D Printing: Not Just for Engineering Students

Enabling Business Students to Change Lives

“3D printing has enabled our students to fulfill their potential to have a positive impact on the world.”
— Pamela Zelbst, Center for Innovation and Technology, Sam Houston State University

Zoe using 3D printed prosthetic hand to play guitar.

Zoe using 3D printed prosthetic hand to play guitar.

3D printed device used by wounded veteran to put on deodorant.

3D printed device used by wounded veteran to put on deodorant.

SHSU students working on the 3D printed deodorant device.

SHSU students working on the 3D printed deodorant device.

It’s been nearly a decade since university engineering programs at top-tier schools like MIT, Harvard, Penn State and Ohio State adopted 3D printing. Academic programs that include 3D printing (also known as additive manufacturing) in their curriculums enable engineering students to innovate, create and hold concepts in their hands. What would happen if the power of 3D printing was available to finance and business students? Sam Houston State University (SHSU) decided to find out.

The Center for Innovation and Technology (CIT) at SHSU, directed by Dr. Pamela Zelbst, opened up 3D printing to business students. The goal was to form crosscurricular teams and teach skills needed for 21st-century innovation: developing new products, understanding production methods and working hand in hand with local organizations to solve problems.

3D Printing for Business Students

Hamid Bouaicha, a Masters of Business Administration student at SHSU, used a 3D printer to develop a product to compete with plastic cups sold in coffee shops. He designed and printed prototypes with properties very close to production thermoplastics. He evaluated the appearance and tested their ability to withstand heat, pressure and microwave radiation.

“My final 3D printed samples were comparable in function, appearance and quality to cups sold by leading coffee shops,” Bouaicha said.

Bouaicha’s real-world experience in the product development process, including assessing the quality of a potential new product against market incumbents, was invaluable thanks to 3D printing.

Scott Golightly, studying finance at SHSU, worked with a local entrepreneur to develop a new product that helps hunters reduce fatigue by supporting some gun weight with the hunter’s hips, taking the load off their shoulders.

“I started out with the financial analysis of the potential market for the new product, but I soon became involved in designing new prototypes using CAD software and a Stratasys Fortus 400 3D printer,” Golightly said. “It was an extraordinary opportunity to take a new company all the way from a concept to shipping its first product.”

Making a Difference at CIT

Six-year-old Zoe Clancy was born with amniotic band syndrome which prevented her right hand from fully developing. Zoe’s mother Jessica Clancy contacted Zelbst, who put together a team of graduate assistants, along with an occupational therapist and a local surgeon to design a prosthetic hand.

The students printed a series of prototypes, tested and adjusted their size and functionality until they had a design Zoe could use effectively. Today, Zoe is using her prosthetic hand to play the guitar, drink from a cup and talk on the phone.

CIT also works closely with the Center for the Intrepid, a division of the U.S. Army Medical Department whose mission is to provide rehabilitation for those who have sustained amputation, burns or functional limb loss. One soldier who lost all four limbs in combat asked the students to develop a device that would allow her to put deodorant on by herself.

Golightly and Maureen Reynolds, a nursing student at SHSU, developed and printed a device that enables her to roll the deodorant across her armpit. Now the students are working on designing a new device that will enable her to feed herself.

“The majority of our time in nursing is spent learning textbook solutions and applying them to patients,” Reynolds said. “This project gave me a chance to help develop a unique patient-centered solution that has a major impact on someone with a major need.”

CIT started using 3D printing eight years ago. By giving more students experience with the cutting-edge technologies of 3D printing, CIT is shaping the future for everyone involved in their projects.

“3D printing has helped our business students participate in the product development process, and helped us build bridges between the university and outside business and service organizations,” Zelbst said. “3D printing has enabled our students to fulfill their potential to have a positive impact on the world.”

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