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    BAEN 542 (2013)

    This is the archived page for Spring 2013.  

    Go to the current webpage for Spring 2014 content.



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    Contacts – the UBC Engineering Physics Project Lab

    Course Info



    • BAEN 542 – Prototyping. [Sauder School Module Description]
    • Course will provide introduction to various tools for producing physical prototypes.
    • A variety of software and fabrication tools available through the UBC Engineering Physics Project Lab for producing physical models.
    • 1 individual assignment to learn fundamental skills using the tools, 1 group assignment (1-3 people) for producing a working physical prototype.
    • Focus on mechanical design and fabrication using 3d printing, laser cutting, and waterjet cutting.


    Course Objectives

    By the end of BAEN 542 you will be able to:

    1. Design components in CAD and manufacture them on modern prototyping tools (waterjet cutters, laser cutters, 3d printers).
    2. Assess different designs and comment on their manufacturability and utility.
    3. Recognize  engineering and manufacturing issues which tie into design process.
    4. Discuss design and fabrication issues with prospective engineering team members, and assess engineering talent relative to prototyping projects.

    Time Expectations

    Other than prototype discussion with teammates, much of the time outside of the 2hr workshop sessions will likely be devoted to using CAD tools to develop designs and prepare models for digital fabrication.   This will vary depending on any previous experiences you may have with CAD tools and the availability of CAD tutorials online to assist you with any specific problems withwhatever package you choose to use.



    Prototyping Tools


    Available Equipment

    There will be limited access to the rapid prototyping tools available to students in UBC Engineering Physics Project Lab.    Fabrication and material costs for BAEN 542 covered by Project Lab (within reason!).


    There are also professional-level 3D printers on campus (Objet Alaris 24 and Alaris 30 in UBC Electrical and Computer Engineering).    Printing costs$1/gram, to be funded directly by student groups (possible partial subsidy by Project Lab), and also provide 1-2 business day turnaround.


    There is also a ZCorp 3d printer in UBC School of Architecture.   The printer uses a powder-based technique to produce fine detailed but very delicate pieces.  Printing may be available on that machine.



    Available Materials

    “Thickness” column indicates suggested material thicknesses for BAEN 542.   Other thicknesses may be available, but try to restrict designs to those indicated.

    Material Comments Thickness Waterjet LaserCutter (50W) 3D Printer
    Paper/Cardboard Laser cutting Various No, gets wet. Yes.  Corrugated cardboard doesn’t cut very well all the way through the material.
    Plywood Yes, but will split.  Use for structural elements only Yes, upto ~1cm thick, depending on density.  Burns too much if too thick.
    Acrylic (plexiglass) Most common plastic for laser cutter usage.  Can shatter. Flat surfaces can be bonded with appropriate solvent, or with silicone.  Laser-cut edge has just enough ripple to prevent solvent bonding. Yes, with a sacrificial thin layer of metal on top. Yes, upto 3/8″ on a single pass.
    Lexan (polycarbonate) Bullet-proof plastic.  Strong and resists shattering but scratches easily.   Cannot use on laser cutter (bad fumes, burns) Yes No (fumes)
    ABS Plastic Can be bonded using acetone solvent.   Surfaces can be reworked with light sanding. Yes
    PLA Plastic More flexible than ABS plastic.  Some claim it has a nicer touch-feeling than ABS.   Slightly lower print quality? Yes
    Aluminum Cannot be spot welded.  Does not rust. Yes No (power too low)
    Stainless Steel Can be spot-welded. Yes No (power too low)
    Mild Steel Will rust, so must be powder-coated or similar.   Can be spot-welded. Yes No (power too low)
    Anodized Surfaces Can be laser-etched to leave white lettering. Yes, for engraving surfaces


    Requesting Manufacturing

    BAEN 542 students will submit appropriate digital files and material requests via email.  Email should include:

    • CAD file (original file, STL file)
    • Desired material (material type, thickness)
    • Info on actual component (critical dimension, screen capture of CAD component)

    We will aim to have parts ready for  pickup from the Project Lab within 1-2 business days. The Engineering Physics Project Lab will initially supply materials and fund the fabrication of most pieces for the course using the on-campus facilities.   Anything that goes beyond our normal material or fabrication allocation may require additional funding.



    We make extensive use of Solidworks in the Engineering Physics Project Lab.  As a CAD tool for engineering and fabricating, it is a very nice balance between useful features, a not-so-steep learning curve, useful tutorials, and a large online community to help with models.   Solidworks  is available to all graduate and undergraduate students in Applied Science for educational purposes to install on their own computers, but not for students in other faculties.   Other engineering depts also support Solidworks for their design courses.   We are likely to be able to supply access to machines in our lab with SolidWorks in the Hennings building.   Other software packages are certainly appropriate for use in this short course.   Keep in mind that we are not able to offer much CAD support for any of these tools (and most have sufficient online forum and youtube video assistance), as most of our discussions on design and fabrication will focus on how proposed designs are suitable for fabrication:


    Weekly Schedule

    Note:   Session 1 is relatively well scripted, but Sessions 2-5 are all highly flexible based on the amount of discussion on Projects 1 and 2 during the week.


    • Session 0 (from Fall 2012)

      • Electronics (2h)
      • Intro to Prototyping (15min).
      • Electronics prototyping with Arduinos and Breadboarded Electronics
      • Survey group wrt previous prototyping experiences.
    • Session 1 (Feb 28)

      • Download a pdf of session 1 slides here
      • Videos from session 1: Making a Mold, Casting, Laser Cutting, Solvent Welding, Autodesk 123D Capture of a Play Figure
      • Useful videos for upcoming sessions: How to Use Epoxy, What is Powder Coating, the 3D Printer in Action, and Downloading and Making of Parts
      • Start with the following websites to find things to make: Thingiverse, Autodesk 123D, Shapeways, Ponoko and the RepRap Project 
      • Course Introductions
        • Discuss Project 1 and Project 2.
        • Overview requirements for Projects
        • Teams with an existing project start working on their own project
        • People without form teams on tasks. Every team needs instructors confirm that scope is acceptable.
      • Justifying the Prototype
        • Understanding the audience – different prototypes for marketing vs. engineering audience
        • Focusing on the core of the proposal/technology/solution offered (can the core idea shown alone?)
      • Design
        • We will not spend time on discussing formalism in design philosophies
        • Our focus here is to find the best way to manufacture the your prototype for function or form.
      • Physical Modeling and CAD software, upto 3d print start (15min)
        • some free and commercial softwares, capabilities/differences (sketchup, solidworks, 123D)
        • highlight differences (animation, simulation)
        • 2d models – create DXF files, we can print on waterjet/laser for next day.
        • 3d modeling (thingiverse, cad tools, class vote on item to fabricate)
        • Manufacturing viewpoint:
        • What materials are available? (dimensions, batches, sizes)
        • try to try to make use of what is available, but contact manufacturer for more info.
        • Review fabrication rules posted on course website.
      • Tour! (50min)
        • Casting – setup
        • waterjet / laser cutter
        • Casting – results
        • 3D printer?
        • Solidworks in project lab
        • start assemble Project 1 box.
        • Look at parts from all fabrication techniques.
      • Homework
        • submit at least 1 part for fabrication, no later than Tues March 5th.
    • Session 2 (March 7)

      • Examining waterjet / lasercut / 3d samples (20min)
        • Discuss variation between CAD and final results.
      • Finishing parts (10min)
        • files and hand tools for breaking edges
        • solvents for cleaning/polishing laser-cut plastics
        • solvents/putty for covering up gaps in 3D printed pieces
        • Paint / Anodizing (how much would you expect to pay?)
      • McMaster-Carr (15min)
        • Examine the online catalog
        • exercise Find at least 3 useful parts to incorporate into your project.
      • Group Discussions
        • Parts made so far.
        • teams present if they are willing to share their experience.
    • Session 3 (March 14)

      • Discussion of Project 1 (discuss idea, parts due next Tues)
      • Discussion of Project 2 (15min)
        • Show available electronic parts
        • 3-5 “canned” ideas
      • Examining Parts – Measurement Tools, Tolerances, and Drawings (10min)
        • Using calipers, micrometers
        • Measure commercial items to to see how well they fit
      • Prototyping for Function (15min)
        • early prototypes for Microsoft Surface and iPhone
        • Example – ENPH 253 Robot (functional parts)
        • Adding electronics – dataloggers, single-board electronics
      • Attaching Parts (10min)
      •  Software – SketchUp Plugins (filleting with RoundCorner)


    • Session 4 (March 21)

        • how to read a parts drawing. Drawing should highlight critical design dimensions

        Presenting Project 1 (50min)

        • prototype, CAD drawings, 1-2 page summary
      • Example: Surgical Flashlight (Manufacturing outsourcing quotes, designing with off-the-shelf parts)
      • Materials (20min)
        • Examine samples (plastics, metals, finishes, fabrics, composites)
        • Stock material shapes – rods, channels, sheets
        • Touch and feel – Why do certain materials feel different? behave differently? Manufacture differently?
        • End-of-life – what can be recycled? what can’t? what does recycling mean?
    • Session 5 (March 28)

      • Identifying Useful Electronics Partners (50min)
        • You likely want an electronics person that can specify, design, source components, construct, and test prototype electronics based on a conceptual design from non-technical people.
        • Versatility and communication skills beat technical skills (they can always help identify other help)
        • Before looking, see if you can find an equivalent electrical board somewhere in existence. This helps everyone understand how easy/hard your own project will be.
        • 10 questions to ask when looking for useful electronics partners:
    • Session 6 (final presentations) (April 5th?)

      • Presenting Project 2 (50min)
      • Have a prototype ready that is correctly addressing the audience, or, for more complex products, show the start of the prototype-build, what it is aiming for and a schedule for completion/presentation.




    Assignments and Marking Scheme


    Project 1  (30%, individual assignment, due March 21st)

    • Overview:
      • One prototype, containing one part made using each of the 4 techniques shown in class.
        • waterjet cutting
        • 3d printing  (UP printer)
        • laser cutter
        • molding + casting
      • You may also include one or more parts from the McMaster-Carr catalog.  We will be placing orders for parts throughout the term
      • Limited electronics (LEDs, battery packs) will be provided but do not necessarily need to be used in the prototype
      • You will be shown one example prototype in Session 1 and 2.  You may base your prototype on this example, or you may chose to design your own product line
    • Deliverables
      • The CAD models for all parts.
      • The  physical prototypes, including all failed attempts at pieces.
      • 1 to 2-page comparison of the computer model and the actual final part (function, physical dimension, tolerances).  Annotated pictures/drawings highly appropriate.
      • CAD model, prototype, and written comparison to be laid out for class discussion.  No formal presentation of material.
    • Assessment:
      • Basic technical competence of CAD tools and manufacturing technique.
      • Design consideration to physical tolerances and manufacturing techniques
      • Incorporation of experiences from earlier prototypes and discussions (trial Project1 pieces)
      • There will be little if any consideration for the target market or entrepreneurial potential of the prototype.


    Project 2  (30%, 1-3 people, due April 5th?)

    • Overview:
      • Design a Physical Product.   Must not be a follow-up to product from Project 1.
    • Deliverables
      • The physical prototype fabricated using one of the campus facilities or outsourced
      • The CAD models and any early physical prototypes.
      • 1 to 2-page discussion of the design process (design considerations, design iterations, prototype development)   Annotated pictures/drawings highly appropriate.
    • Assessment:
      • Appropriateness of Prototype for target purpose (engineering or marketing audience, functional vs. appearance)
      • Basic technical competence of CAD tools and manufacturing technique
      • Design consideration to physical tolerances and manufacturing techniques
      • Incorporation of experiences from earlier prototypes and discussions(Project1, trial Project 2 pieces)


    Class Presentation of Project 2   (20%)

    • Group oral presentation of Project 2 (6min max, + question period)
    • Overview of their Project:
      • Explanation of product use, differentiation from existing product market
      • Design considerations, design iterations and prototype development.
      • Organization, visual impact.


    Participation    (20%)

    • Quality of participation you exhibit during class (relevance, insight and clarity of your remarks, questions or presentations).
    • You are encouraged to share insights based on your work experience, research, or business sector.
    • Work habits, such as punctuality, attendance and preparation.


    Further Readings

    Prototyping Guides:



    1. Square (used techshop for first prorotype)
    2. Dyson (
    3. first google server.  First apple computer, first GoPro cameras

    Useful rules for Electronics fabrication:


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