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    BAEN 580B (2014)



    P1000357 Selection_009 Selection_008 Selection_007


    Contacts – the UBC Engineering Physics Project Lab


    Update History:

    • 2014 March 12 (revised Project 1 requirements, info from 2nd class session)
    • March 10 (small updates to schedule)
    • March 5 (first posting)




    Course Info

      • BAEN 580B – Prototyping. [Sauder School Module Description]
      • Course will provide introduction to various tools for producing physical and software prototypes.
      • A variety of software and fabrication tools available through the UBC Engineering Physics Project Lab for producing physical  models.
      • Focus on mechanical design and fabrication using 3d printing, laser cutting, and waterjet cutting.


    Prototyping Tools

    CAD Software

    • For this course, we recommend using SketchUp – lots of plugins, relatively stable, and can be used to produce STL files appropriate for most 3D printers.   As the course progresses, we will highlight a selection of plugins to use for the course. See this link for some in-depth info (as shown Mon March 10 during presentation).
    • Autodesk products are nice as well (AutoDesk 123D and Autodesk Fusion 360), but we have found them to be moderately slow, buggy, and more prone to crashing than Sketchup.
    • Other options:


    Wireframing / User Interface Software

    • Moqups is a very fast tool to use to develop interfaces for both mobile and web applications
    • Justinmind Prototyper is a more powerful tool.  The free version allows for a fair amount of interactivity and graphical control, and the ability to test on both mobile and web devices.   A paid version of the software ($29/month, not required for the course) adds a lot of visual elements and interactive touch elements (e.g. touch and pinch, swipes, etc).
    • Read here about the conceptual differences between Wireframing and Prototyping


    Available Equipment

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

      • Waterjet cutting – we have an OMAX 3652 waterjet cutter.  Capable of cutting anything.   Costs us $1/min in cutting charge.
      • 3D printing – we have an UP! 3d printer, prints in ABS or PLA plastic.  4 inch cubic workspace.  Costs $0.10 per gram.
      • Laser cutting and engraving – we have a Universal Laser VLS 4.60.  Able to cut through paper, cardboard, acrylic, and some other plastics.    No costs for cutting.    Check online for laser cutter-compatible materials.

    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




    Submitting Files to us for Fabrication

    Students can 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.





    • Form, not necessarily Function – The general intent of the course is to focus on producing non-functional prototypes which give potential users a chance to physically interact and understand the idea you are trying to convey.
    • Generating Functional prototypes can be hard!    True for both software and hardware, so we generally avoid it in this course.  Having said that, it may be possible to do so given your needs, so talk to us early.
    • Projects 0, 1 and 2 are skill-development projects
    • Projects 3 and 4 allow for creativity  – work to identify something very specific you really want to make.   Far easier to work with individuals that have a clear vision of what they want to fabricate.
    • Meet us outside of class – we are more than happy to discuss your ideas outside of class time.



    Week 1, Day1

      • Course Overview  (0.25h)
        • 4 Class projects + 2 Peer Reviews
        • Last project due Week 5 rather than Week 6.
      • Introduce Students (0.25h)
      • Lab Tour of Hebb / Hennings (Waterjet, Laser, 3d Printers)  (0.75h)
      • CAD part 1 of 2  (show 3 options)   (0.25h)  (see this document to install Sketchup and more)
      • Examine fabricated parts, use calipers to get measurements.  (0.25h)
      • Discuss options for Project 2.

    Week 1, Day2

      • SUBMIT:   Project 0    1 digital file of any piece of Lego (5%) 
      • Print Project 0 files  (0.25h)
      • Design Philosophy Discussion (0.25h)
        • Progression from Idea Generation to Sketch to 3d Model.
        • Focus prototype to meet needs of target audience
      • Practice hand sketching (lego exercise).
      • 3D capture of physical items (multiple photos, laser scanner if available)  (0.25h)
      • Paper and cardboard modeling (methods and patterns) (0.25h)
      • Disucss Project 2 (creative use of LED lights)  (0.25h)
      • CAD part 2 of 2 (0.5h)

    Week 2, Day1

          Week 2, Day2



    Week 3, Day1

      • Tour of Boreal (confirmed with Dylan Gunn) (1h)

    Week 3, Day2

      • SUBMIT:     Project 2 (prototype, common project) (25%)
      • Finish assembly of Project2 items (0.75h)
      • Presentation and Group discussion of Project2 results  (1h)



    Week 4, Day1

      • SUBMIT:     PeerReviewA (review of Project2 results) (5%)
      • Electronics  (sensors, motors/actuators, batteries, parts selection)  (1h)
      • Working day (Project3, Project4)

    Week 4, Day2

      • SUBMIT:     Project3 (software prototype) (15%)
      • Group demos of Project3  (1h)
      • Discussion of Project4 Ideas, confirmation of Project Topic (0.5h)
      • Working day (Project4)


    Week 5, Day1

      • Discussion of Project4 Ideas (0.5h)
      • Working day (Project 4)

    Week 5, Day2

      • SUBMIT:     Project4 (free-form) (25%) Group discussion of Project4 results.


    Week 6, Day1

      • SUBMIT:     PeerReviewB (review of Project4) (5%)
      • Last Meeting




    Project 0 – Make your own Lego Piece (5%)

    Submit 1 file of an existing Lego piece for 3d printing (STL format)

    You will be supplied Lego pieces and measuring tools (calipers) for measuring and producing appropriate CAD files.

    An exercise primarily to ensure you can do basic CAD drawings with the software.



    Project 1  – Your First Set of Prototype Files  (10%)

    Submit 2 sets of files:

      • One for 3d printing (STL format)
      • One for either waterjet cutting or laser cutting (DXF or other flat-file format)


      • Both sets of files must be designed to interact with a rigid real-world objects (e.g. clip for top of pen, cell phone holder, custom Lego piece), good practice for understanding manufacturing tolerances.
      • 3d printed object must be “small” (e.g. less than 3cm x 3cm x 3cm)
      • The 3d and waterjet cut pieces do not have to be related to one another.



    Project 2 – Class-selected Project (25%)

    Submit one prototype which incorporates parts supplied in class

    Also submit one Single Page Summary (letter-size, suitable for mounting next to object). Use both text and photos in Summary Page

    Can work in groups on this assignment.   Follow-up email will request further info about workload between group members..


      • Clear identification of target audience (who is the prototype intended to be shown to?)
      • Appropriateness of prototype for target purpose (engineering or marketing audience, functional vs. appearance)
      • Basic technical competence of CAD tools and manufacturing technique (e.g. consideration of physical tolerances and manufacturing techniques)
      • Incorporation of experiences from Prototype 1 and class discussions


    Project 3 – Software Prototype (15%)

    A software mock-up for a web or mobile-based application.  

    This is a project for individual students, no group work. 


      • Can be based on an original idea, or an improvement to an existing website or app.
      • Work must be in a format able to be shared with others on their own machines and devices.
      • Must demonstrate some level of functionality of the system


      • Appropriateness of Prototype for target purpose (engineering or marketing audience, functional vs. appearance)
      • Basic technical competence using software prototyping tool.


    Project 4 – Physical Prototype, Free Choice  (25%)

    Submit one physical prototype object, free-choice.   

    Also submit one Single Page Summary (letter-size, suitable for mounting next to object). Use both text and photos in Summary Page.


      • The topic must be discussed with the course instructors at least 1 week prior to submission
      • The work must not be an extension of work done in Project 2.
      • The work may be done in a group.   A follow-up email will ask each group member about their contribution to the project.


      • 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 previous class Projects and class discussions



    Peer Review of Project 2 and   Project 4 (5% each, total 10%)

    Submit 2 or 3 bullet-points of suggestions for each of your classmates projects. 


      • Each person will receive the bullet-point feedback from all classmates, with names removed.  Each person will then generate a mark based on the insight and constructiveness of each group of received comments.   These student marks will be combined with the instructor marks for an overall Peer Review mark.


    Class Participation (10%)

    • 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:




    End of Page.