Prototyping with 3D Printing – students apply “Learning Lab” know-how for their bachelor thesis

Written by Prof. Dr. Joachim Günther (HM)

Starting March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused extensive restrictions. Even though further Learning Lab POW workshops (‘Print Your Own World’) weren’t held, students kept utilizing their know-how and realizing new products. Figures 1-3 show functional models and prototypes that were the outcome from various bachelor theses.

One important decision upfront is which prototype components should be printed and which ones should be bought. Components such as shafts or steel pins are cheaper and quickly acquired in DIY supply stores.

Figure 1: Cardan joint that is able to transfer rotation and torque from a driveshaft to an output shaft, even if both shafts are positioned angularly.

Below, two mechanical functional models integrating 3D printed components are displayed.

Figure 2: Functional model with two cardan joints that are arranged consecutively. Thus, the torque in between the shafts that have offset can be transferred. One common application is found in machine engineering.
Figure 3: Gear range from a drive shaft and a pulley. These basic gears were used in mediaeval times as powertrain for water-powered mills.

These bachelor theses were super-visioned by Prof. Dr. Joachim Günther (Hochschule München, Faculty 09, Engineering Economics). For further information please contact me.

Evolution of the Learning Lab: “HAT virtual” – from presence to virtual workshop

The name: Learning Lab.
The idea: haptic technology experience in small groups.
The scenario: 1 room, 1 instructor, 25 students.

This is how the situation looked just a few months ago.

The Covid 19 pandemic confronted the Learning Lab, and with it Professors Dr. Holger Günzel and Dr. Lars Brehm from Munich University of Applied Sciences, with the task of adapting the Learning Lab workshops for online use.

In mid-2020, the first workshop – DBF (Digital Business Foundation) – successfully moved into virtuality, enabling students from all corners of the globe to participate. This success story continued in October: The HAT (Home Automation with Internet of Things) workshop makes its successful online debut with 50 students.

To do this, the following workshop components were adapted:

ComponentOn-Site-FormatVirtual Format
Hardware PlatformRaspberry PiAWS Linux Server :
managed via Terraform
Sensors & OutputSense-HATTrinket: browserbased
Sense-HAT Simulation
Node-REDNode-RED with
Node-RED with
Sense-HAT Simulator
Working in small groupTablesZoom-Breakouts
Collaborative WritingPost-ItsNuclino-Workspace
Components On-Site vs. virtual Learning Lab Format
Nuclino Central Hub

By the way: The assignments of the virtual workshop format and the Terraform scripts are, of course, openly available in the community.

Kicked off: virtual version of the workshop “Digital Business Foundation”

Students that sit together at tables one next to another, vivid discussions and lecturers that look over their shoulders. What used to be the normal within universities is no longer possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic today. New educational as well as learning models are in demand in order to bridge distance and substitute presence classes.

The Learning Lab – whose core purpose is experiencing technology haptically within small groups- had to manage the challenge, too. The solution: The teams ‘met’ virtually via Zoom breakout sessions. Additionally, the webtool Nuclino was used for collaborative writing and exchanging information – something, that usually would be done with post-its, flipcharts and discussions. Instead of a Raspberry Pi as the local wordpress server, the student teams work on a Linux server hosted on the AWS Cloud (Amazon Web Services).

Linux server on AWS provided for the student groups.

The required Linux servers are not set up individually/manually. Instead, they are setup automatically via scripting in Terraform. This way the infrastructure is easily adjustable as well as scalable (e.g. for 10 teams and beyond). Being able to start and stop the service at the push of a button, it is also saving costs.

Terraform in order to automatically set up linux servers.

With this technological premise the Learning Lab workshop “Digital Business Foundation” (DBF) moved into the virtual space. This way the established didactical approach also succeeds within the new group work from distance setting.

By the way: This virtual approach of the affected assignments and Terraform scripts is of course publicly available within the community. So, please utilize it to your benefit as well.