SUNY at Stony Brook
College of Engineering & Applied Sciences

Rapid Prototyping

3d printing, building, and forming!
Why machine, extrude, or mold,
when you can PRINT!

Rapid Prototyping is currently a hot field. It draws the interest of Materials, Mechanical, Manufacturing, Process and Bio engineers. Not only exciting and rewarding to students, she is a guaranteed lever for local industry and commercial enterprises.

Imagine the following scenarios.

1) MEC and ESG/ESM students take the disk from the CAD computer and pop it into the RP controller. Next day (NOT next month) their throttle controller is in their hand.

"Concept and visualization in 3D"

State of the art technology for state of the art students, who tomorrow will be LI's professional engineers.

    Make things in hours, not days!    

2) Start-ups, SPIR contractors, and other collaborators have commercial access to prototyping equipment, that they could otherwise not afford. The local entrepreneur gets a physical object from RP for hundreds of dollars, as opposed to thousands and long lead-times.

3) Bioengineers and other medical practitioners can generate STL files (stereolithography) from MRI scans. Then, within a day they can hold a hip joint, skull, or femur model in their hands.

4) Researchers in casting and coating technology get access to equipment, wherein they can expand the horizons and market for RP. The NSF Center for Thermal Spray Research could spray molten metals and ceramics into negative molds (produced by a RP machine) to immediately form positive objects. This and other inter-disciplinary research is boundless. Researchers would have minimal obstacles "in the way of" receiving grants to cover materials and annual costs.

5) The recruitment prospects are equally exciting. Imagine the look on the eyes of a high-school junior when she/he witnesses the three-dimensional creation of a chess set with all the pieces and including the board! You can make a gearbox, and immediately begin to rotate the gears!

Certainly, this facility would be another focal point for our educational outreach-programs, such as WISE.

6) RP is interdisciplinary. This is not just for CEAS. Art, Anthropology, and Geosciences are obvious users within CAS. Various departments within Bio, Dental, and SOM would use a RP machine. Any of the machine shops (Physics, Chem, ESS, Bio, or Psych) would love to have access to high quality RP.

The Machines:
RP is broken up into several markets:
Low end (desktop), middle range, high end, and ultra-large volume.

The main differences between the various equipment manufacturers are:
built speed, material, cost, build technology, and post-processing.

Built Speed:
The layering and curing/sintering of material takes time. Some machines can grow an eight-inch coke bottle in 2 hours, while others can require 10 hours.

Various machines use cornstarch, paper,epoxy resin, nylon, ABS, ceramics, etc... The resultant product is limited by host material.

The four markets are <100K, 100-250K, 250+K, 1M.

Build Technology:
Sintered powder, laminated paper, extruded plastic, binded powder, and laser stereo-lithography

surface finishing, heating, or encasing maybe required

Not just rigid materials!

Brief Summary of Competitors

ZCorp uses cornstarch and plaster to build an object at 1-2 inch/hour at $25/inch of materials. The final object is chemically infused for hardness. The entire package cost $60K. Some additional education discounting is available. This equipment does not address all markets, but is extremely cost effective.

Several companies cut and lay-down multiple layers of adhered paper.

Stratsys uses ABS, elastomer, investment casting wax, or ABSi materials in an extrusion process which is slightly slower than 1 inch/hour. Although slower than the ZCorp, the finished product is of higher quality and more versatile. With educational discounts they sell machines from 100K to 350K. The high-end machines are substantially quicker. Additionally, unlike the next competitor they do not have "expensive to replace" lasers. SUNY Farmingdale has one.

DTM uses laser sintering of powders which offers them a rich array of materials. Current materials include:

  • Polycarbonate,
  • SOMOS-201 Elastomer,
  • Polyamide,
  • Glass-filled Polyamide
  • CopperPolyamide,
  • Casting sand and wax, and
  • Stainless Steel for tooling applications.
    Costing 350K, laser sintering is an extremely attractive technology. She offers a range of materials, and the powder material is self-supporting during the build.

    The SLAs from 3d-Systems are the standard bearer in industry. However, they rely on photo-chemical liquids which create issues of limited range of materials, support structures, i toxicity, and post processing.

    Customized machines is each of these areas allow for enormous build-volumes, with machines costing in the millions of dollars.

    Our Choices

    The College has purchased and installed a FDM Stratasys 3000 and a DTM Sinterstation2500Plus. The 3000 uses a water soluble support structure. The 2500Plus uses a self-supporting powder.



    Relevant Comments:
    Matthew Gold, Winnie Ho, Angie Saldanha, Fouad Saleh, Dan Cho, Tracy Scott Undergraduate Engineering Majors, all U4

    "Great idea, looks a lot better than just using AutoCad."

    "Looks good, when are we getting it?"

    "My god! How do they do that?"

    "It is not cheap, but it is worth it."

    "How come you finally getting one, just when I'm graduating?"

    "Cool! I want one."

    Prof. George Hart
    Computer Science

    The RP facilities of the engineering school have furthered my research, as they enable me to develop and test new algorithms for 3D design. They also have made possible a senior seminar project course about procedural generation of 3D objects, which I introduced in the computer science department this year. Student projects from the first time teaching the course are online here:
    and RP constructions of some of my 3D research results are online here:

    Prof. Clinton Rubin
    Center for Biotechnology
    Biomedical Engineering Program

    "There are clear uses for a RP machine in the clinical setting, such as creating surgical strategies for severe skeletal trauma, as well as the resource RP would provide to optimize design elements in bioengineering curriculum/research"

    Prof. Gary Halada
    Materials Science and Engineering
    Design Committee, Chair

    "The addition of a state-of-the-art rapid prototyper to the college educational resources will guarantee that we can fulfill our objectives of providing a relevant and thorough design experience for every student. The ability to rapidly prototype will enhance the undergraduate design experience in all courses and provide visual and hands-on project enhancement for all stages of the design process, including concept selection, modeling, Design for Manufacturing (DFM), Design for Environment (DFE), product architecture, optimization, design refinement and quality assurance. No other single addition to our laboratories could provide such wide-spread benefits for our degree programs."

    Prof. Chris Berndt
    Undergraduate Program Director,
    Materials Science and Engineering
    Director of Assessment for CEAS
    Mechanical Testing Facility, Director
    Center for Thermal Spray Research, Co-PI

    "Modern engineers and scientists need to integrate design with manufacturing and performance. The usual classical process of "handing a drawing to the tool shop", then waiting several months for a component to be produced which is then tested so that modifications can be made -- and then repeating this loop of "drawing - machining - testing - redesign" is the old paradigm which does not work in this more competitive world.

    Therefore, engineers need components from the drawing board (or, more correctly, from the AutoCad software computer) into their test rigs and factories quickly and this is what the rapid prototyping device can do. The beauty of such equipment is that they are affordable for engineering departments and enable a realistic engineering training for our undergraduates that will be recognized by the employers of our students. Moreover, it is clear that such a commitment from USB will be in accordance with the requirements of the new ABET (i.e., EC-2000) so that we can claim that we are integrating design, manufacturing and team work within our curriculum. I can envisage that a USB resource in the area of rapid prototyping will be facilitate a transition into modern engineering practice."

    Imin Kai, Prof., Mechanical Engineering

    Free Form Manufacturing is a new and exciting field. The students in the College will benefit from the hands-on experience of this new manufacturing process.

    Clive Clayton, Director, SPIR

    "The rapid proto-typing equipment will be of enormous benefit to the Strategic Partnership for Industrial Resurgence (SPIR) activity which is based at USB. The SPIR program incorporates the resources of four State University of New York (SUNY) engineering programs (Binghamton, Buffalo, New Paltz and Stony Brook) and has a prime mission to revitalize and redirect New York State industry by moving it toward an economy based on technical knowledge and the development of new technologies.

    In today's rapidly changing business environment it's essential that businesses stay on top of advances in technology. Keeping up with these developments, though, can be difficult and costly. That's where the rapid proto-typing equipment will have the opportunity to play a major role in helping out NYS industry. I can envisage companies - both large and small - being attracted to the SPIR program because of the rapid proto-typing resource. The companies will be able team up with professors to quickly and efficiently prototype their products and bring them to market in a timely fashion. Since the SPIR program incorporates graduate and undergraduate students I can see focussed internships developing that will marry university and industry resources.

    SPIR's goal is to make NYS businesses more competitive and I, therefore, strongly endorse the acquisition of the rapid proto-typing equipment since it will help us achieve this mandated goal."


    The following courses would use the RP machine:

       ESG 100 Introduction to Engineering Science
       MEC 203 Techanical Drawing and Computer-Aided Drafting I & II
       ESG 217 Engineering Science Design I
       MEC 310 Introduction to Machine Design
       ESG 316 Engineering Science Design II
       MEC 325/580 Manufacturing Processes
       ESM 353 Biomaterials
       ESM 355 Materials Processing and Manufacturing
       MEC 412 Computer-Aided Design
       ESM 440 Senior Design I
       ESM 441 Senior Design II
       MEC 440 Mechanical Engineering Design I 
       MEC 441 Mechanical Engineering Design  II
       ESM 450 Phase Changes and Mechanical Properties of Materials
       MEC 583 Computer-Integrated Manufacturing

    A small sampling of the research interests:

    1. NSF: 
       "Kinematics driven geometric modeling for virtual 
       design and prototyping" 
       Q. J. Ge and A. Varshney.
       The RP machine will be used to make prototypes for 
       design verification and demonstration.
    2. NSF:
       "Full-field 3-D surface contouring for industrial 
       inspection and reverse engineering" 
       P. S. Huang and F. P. Chiang.
       The RP machine will be used as part of a 3-D copy 
       machine for reverse engineering applications.
    3. Material property testing and stress analysis 
       of rapid prototyped parts.
    4. NSF/DARPA: (to be submitted)
       Thermal-spray and rapid-protyping production
       of spray mandrels for casting and rapid tooling.
       H. Herman and R. Zatorski
    5. NSF:
       Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
       H. Herman, S. Sampath, C. Berndt, and A. King

    Make the positive, or make the negative!

    Who else uses RP?

    RP is a maturing technology, and Stony Brook should not miss the bandwagon. Below is a list of several of the companies in the US which use RP. Additionally, there are dozens of top academic institutions involved in RP and associate research. Finally, approximately half of the RP research is in the Pacific Rim and Europe.

    In the US, here are some of the users:

    • Companies using RP:
      • Allied Signal
      • Fisher Price
      • General Electric
      • Goodyear
      • Hasbro
      • Lexmark
      • Magnetek
      • Mold Masters
      • Northrup Grumman
      • Paramount
      • Prototype South
      • Reebok
      • Rubbermaid
    • Gov't Labs:
      • Argonne National Lab
      • Los Alamos National Lab
      • NASA
      • Sandia
    • Academic Institutions:
      • Alabama Industrial Development Training
      • Amherst: NACCMED at UMass
      • Arizona State University
      • Bowling Green University
      • Bradley University
      • Brigham Young University
      • Bucknell University
      • California Polytechnic State University
      • California State University
      • Carnegie Mellon
      • Case Western Reserve
      • Central Michigan University
      • Clemson University
      • Columbia University
      • Dartmouth College
      • Drexel University
      • Georgia Tech's
      • Embry Riddle Aerospace University
      • Loyola College
      • Loyola Marymount University Sanders
      • Marquette University
      • McGill University
      • Milwaukee School of Engr
      • MIT
      • New Jersey Inst of Tech
      • New York State Center for Advanced Technology
      • North Carolina State University
      • Nortwestern University IL
      • Ohio
      • Oregon State
      • Penn State Erie
      • Pittsburg State
      • Princeton University
      • Purdue
      • Rensselar Polytechnial University
      • Rochester Inst of Tech
      • Rock Valley College
      • Rutgers University
      • San Diego State University
      • Stanford University
      • South West Texas State University
      • Stevens Inst of Tech
      • Temple University
      • Texas University
      • University of Arizona
      • University of California at San Diego
      • University of California, Berkeley
      • University of California, Irvine
      • University of Connecticut
      • University of Central Florida
      • University of Dayton
      • University of Delaware
      • University of Detroit
      • University of Detroit Mercy
      • University of Illinois Chicago, IL
      • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
      • University of Kentucky
      • University of Louisville
      • University of Massachusetts at Lowell
      • University of Maryland
      • University of Michigan
      • University of Nebraska-Lincoln
      • University of Rhode Island
      • University of South Carolina
      • University of Southern California
      • University of Southern Mississippi
      • University of Texas
      • University of Utah
      • University of Washington
      • Virginia Tech
      • Western Michigan University
    • RP-Machine vendors
    • Service Bureaus
    • More Info:

    Model on the left, casting on the right!

    The Bottom Line

    The era of RP is upon us. The combination of usage by multiple departments in their academic, research, and industrial programs makes RP impossible to pass up.


    For more information, contact:
    Jim Quinn at

    Rapid Prototyping Facility
    Heavy Engineering Building, Room 102


    12/10/2004 JQ