Front Range Community College Blog

3D Printing Offers CAD Students More Opportunity

3D-printing illustration

With 3D printing really taking off, Claudia Romero, program director for Computer-Aided Drafting and Design (CAD) at FRCC’s Larimer Campus, can say, “Yes, we do that. In a big way.”

New space, bigger space

CAD moved into bigger quarters at the Larimer Campus with the opening in August of newly renovated Redcloud Peak, one of the projects to greet Larimer Campus and Westminster Campus students for the fall semester.

“We have additional classroom space,” Claudia says. “It’s fantastic. We can now offer additional second-year classes we weren’t able to offer before. We have a new and much larger space for 3D printing and a larger space for 2D printing. It’s really cool for the program and for the students.”

3D printers, laser cutter, and scanners

That “in a big way” for 3D? Well, there are five additive 3D printers, one subtractive 3D printer, a laser cutter, and 3D scanners. An additive printer builds its product by adding material layer by layer. A subtractive printer carves its product out from a solid piece. A laser cutter can cut 2D objects out of material to make a 3D object. In a bit of cross-discipline cooperation, art students are using the 3D scanners to scan their sculptures as one step toward printing their sculptures. It’s a bit like reverse engineering.

3D printing has really taken off in the industry, Claudia says. It’s part of the invention/inventor phase for startups and established companies alike. A model can be prepared to help sell the project.

You will find 3D printing in use today by architects, landscape architects and interior designers, engineers, manufacturers, inventors, and even in some home offices.

Great opportunity for students

“Having these printers at FRCC exposes students to this amazing technology,” Claudia says. “They are able to create models of their own design, artwork, moveable parts – there are endless possibilities.”

From parts for kitchen mixers to parts for bicycles, from building mockups to topographic models of national monuments – students are exposed to a wide spectrum of possibilities.

Students learn in-demand skills

“Students are definitely more marketable with 3D printing skills,” Claudia says. “It sets them apart for positions in the design and engineering industry.”

FRCC was the first community college in Colorado to have a 3D printer. Now, 3D printing is incorporated in all upper level CAD classes, and an Advanced 3D Printing course is to be offered soon. With the department’s selection of printers, CAD is a good place for students just starting out and for experienced CAD technicians wanting to update their skills.

Students train on up-to-date software

It’s not just with 3D printing that is up to date in CAD. Students learn on the latest software releases, including AutoCAD products, Revit, Civil 3D and other AutoDesk products, SolidWorks, and Sketchup. In addition to the Associate of Applied Science degree, there are certificates in Basic CAD, Advanced Architectural CAD, Advanced Civil CAD, Advanced Mechanical CAD, and Animation and Visualization CAD.Advanced 3D Printing and 3D Scanning are on the horizon.

Now that the economy is moving ahead and building projects are going up, there’s an increased need for Civil CAD technicians. Additional classes for Civil CAD are being added.

New location invites cross-discipline learning

The location of all creative arts and design programs in Redcloud Peak also offers opportunities for learning across disciplines. CAD 275, for example, is a class called CAD for Artists. Yes, laser cutting and 3D printing for artists.

Avatar for John Feeley


John Feeley is director of public relations at Front Range Community College.