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Designing & 3D Printing in Education Using the Full Color Stratasys J750

Using this new technology in creative ways to enhance art and design coursework
University Business, June 2017

In this webcast, an instructor from East Stroudsburg University (Penn.) described how she is using the Stratasys J750 3D Printer in coursework, through projects such as environmental designs, branding championship, medical problem-solving and more. She also discussed how full-color 3D printing can enable learning in art and design, presented some examples of student projects, and outlined some of the benefits of having a 3D printing lab on campus.

Darlene Farris-LaBar
Professor of Art and Design; Environmental Artist
East Stroudsburg University

I have a sculpture background, and I also do graphic design. So it was kind of a nice opportunity when 3D printing started to become more mainstream. When we started to implement it into our program, I found a new way of creating my work.

Combining technology and sculpture, 3D printing was a perfect opportunity, for my own self-expression. I am an environmental artist. I care deeply about those vulnerable, little species that exist on our planet. I feel that our fast-growing planet, which is certainly becoming overdeveloped and polluted, is causing some problems with species becoming extinct every single day.

I started to design flowers and plants—these wonderful engineered forms that nature has provided us. I had to learn how to model and create the forms in virtual space. It was certainly a new adventure. That adventure led me into being an explorer, as I would travel through this virtual space discovering things I’ve never seen before on our planet. The world is full of wonderful designs, whether in form or color.

 We have a E1200 Stratasys printer, which I used to create 3D-printed replicas of plant leaves and flowers, but without color. I then played with the Objet 500, as I started to learn how to apply color in virtual space, from Rhino 3D modeling software to Photoshop. I was then able to create replicas printed In color. Now, we have advanced our program here at ESU, and we’re very fortunate to receive the Stratasys J750. It offers a full range of colors—cyan, magenta, yellow, and also white and black.

Now I don’t have to stop and think about colors—I can just create. There’s no road block. I can create in real time, put colors together. What I see on the computer screen in Photoshop is easily replicated in a 3D print, thanks to the J750. With a wild petunia, I was able to take images of the veins, and of the petals, and I was able to image them onto 3D models in Photoshop. And I can start painting and applying color within Photoshop. That’s nice, because with something so intricate, it would be challenging to paint even by hand, with a paintbrush, to get into those little areas.

I can use NextEngine to scan, for instance, a pineapple. The scanner is collecting geometry, picking up every little detail that it can, and also picking up the texture. Those scans can be combined together to create a 3D form. It is quite a process, and the files are quite large. Then I bring that model into Photoshop where I can work on it more, then save the file as a VRML, which gets uploaded into the J750. I can scan the surface of the pineapple, or the parameter, then I can turn the pineapple on its side and scan the bottom as well.  I’m then able to match up the bottom scan to the scan of the parameter. That’s pretty much the building and creation process of a 3D-printed pineapple.

We are an art-and-design program. We like that our students come out of our program with a lot of interdisciplinary skills. They are creative thinkers. They get a good sense of technology and entrepreneurship, and they learn to collaborate, and to understand sustainability as well.

We started in 2012 with a very basic printer, which we acquired into our program. That took us on a wonderfully new adventure for our creative students. We then were able to continue to expand our program and acquired, through philanthropic donations, that Stratasys E1200. For those of you who have used this, you know it is a workhorse. It’s able to produce multiple parts, and moveable parts, all in one. It provided our students the great opportunity to create intricate features and forms that they had never been able to create before.

Now we are on a new adventure. The imaginations were, pretty much, flying in all directions. All sorts of things are possible now. We are able to expand our imaginations, and also our program, and we were able to develop a new program in Product Design.

Design thinking and problem-solving—these are things that our students are able to do, and achieve, right in our lab, with practical applications. Students now have open doors that could lead them into the medical field, for example. They can work with not only modeling or 3D scans, but also possibly other data, such as MRIs or CT scans.

Our students have been excited about 3D printing. They’re out a lot, displaying what we have created, and that’s been a great opportunity for us to bridge our curriculum to the community.

With the J750, again, we have lots of colors possibilities. Now students who have painting backgrounds are playing with digital painting, and those with graphic design experience can also utilize this wonderful technology. From medical, to product, to graphic design—there are so many possibilities. It’s unlimited.

We have a lot of work that comes out of our program, from traditional, to fine art, to hands-on, to digital technology as well. I know that this provides our students a nice competitive edge—they will have plenty of open doors available to them. They’re going to be quite a step ahead in the job markets.

Personally, as an artist, I love constantly exploring and discovering new technology, and new tools that are out there. As I train myself in the new software that’s constantly available, or the ever-changing technology, I can double zip a little bit—as an artist and designer, and as an educator, it all works well together.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, visit


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