Rapid Prototyping Technology

Lead Instructor(s): 

Martin Culpepper


TBD Summer 2017

Course Length: 

5 Days

Course Fee: 





  • Closed

It is highly recommended that you apply for a course at least 6-8 weeks before the start date to guarantee there will be space available. After that date you may be placed on a waitlist. Courses with low enrollment may be cancelled up to 4 weeks before start date if sufficient enrollments are not met. If you are able to access the online application form, then registration for that particular course is still open.

This course has limited enrollment. Apply early to guarantee your spot.


Participants will obtain hands-on exposure to processes commonly used to rapidly fabricate prototypes. Classroom time covers an introductory-level review of the principles that govern the technologies, design for manufacturing, and best practices. Between lectures and lab time, participants will work in groups to model and design the components that will then be fabricated during the lab time. Laboratory time includes observation of fabrication by MIT staff, assembly, and measurement/inspection of the resulting parts. Time permitting, participants will obtain safety and basic use training for a subset of the processes covered in the class. The course materials cover 3D printing, laser cutting (polymers), waterjet cutting (metals and polymers), CNC milling (metals and polymers), thermoforming (polymers), foam cutting, silicone molding, and use of a CNC router (wood and/or foam). Participants will keep parts that they create during the class.

Participant Takeaways:

At the conclusion of the short course, participants will:

  • Understand what limits/dominates the capability of each technology
  • Understand how the preceding drives design for manufacturing
  • Understand the metrics (cost, rate, quality, flexibility) that quantify the suitability of a technology
  • Understand practical issues that are important to effective use of the technologies
  • Observe the preceding via experience-based learning

Who Should Attend:

This course is directed at individuals who need to understand what dominates and limits the capabilities of the rapid prototype fabrication processes that will be covered in the class, and is designed for professionals that are looking to gain knowledge and insight that enables them to select appropriate processes/technologies and then make good design/fabrication/assembly decisions when utilizing the processes. The course would be useful for individuals seeking to better understand how to prototype items, for example: designers, design engineers, directors of engineering, technicians, researchers, makers, model builders, and hobbyists. The lessons learned are highly useful in fields related to design, manufacturing, the arts, architecture, and R&D.

Prerequisite Skills/Knowledge:

A technical background including trigonometry and freshman-level physics will enable participants to more fully understand the principles, i.e. the "why," of that which governs the capabilities and limitations of the processes.

Computer Requirements:

Laptops or tablets with Excel are encouraged.

Earn a Professional Certificate in Innovation and Technology

Rapid Prototyping Technology may be taken individually or as an elective course for the Professional Certificate Program in Innovation and Technology.

Program Outline: 

Given the limited number of machines and the need to schedule them, typically two technologies will be covered per day. Participants will be divided into small groups. Each group will rotate through all of the technologies by the end of the course. The breakdown of classroom/fabrication/experimentation/discussion will depend upon the technologies being covered in a particular day.

In each unit, participants learn the following for each process they are assigned to cover during that time period:

  • Discussion of each technology: Characteristics, general capabilities, pros/cons, examples of fabricated parts/uses and the physics that limit/dominate what the process can do (one hour).
  • Overview of the process at the equipment and demonstration of a part being fabricated (one hour).
  • The balance of the time will be spent on participant-driven Q&A on each process and discussion of design for manufacturing principles.

9:00 am – 10:00 am: Classroom work

10:00 am – 10:15 am: Break & refreshments

10:15 am – noon: Classroom/design work

Noon – 1:00 pm: Lunch on your own

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm: Fabrication and experimentation

3:00 pm – 3:15 pm: Break & refreshments

3:15 pm – 4:30 pm: Experimentation and discussion

Course Schedule: 

View 2016 Schedule (pdf)

Registration is Monday morning, 8:15 - 8:45 am.

Class runs 9:00 am – 4:30 pm Monday through Thursday and 9:00 am - 2:30 pm on Friday.

Participants’ Comments: 

Jon Hunt, IT Service Provider and Consumer Support Engineer

"The course was awesome. I learned a ton about what is possible with the current rapid prototyping technologies and actually got to see them in action and work through an exercise using them."



This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings, and tools (60%) 60
Latest Developments: Recent advances and future trends (10%) 10
Industry Applications: Linking theory and real-world (30%) 30

Delivery Methods: 

Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (35%) 35
Discussion or Groupwork: Participatory learning (45%) 45
Labs: Demonstrations, experiments, simulations (20%) 20



Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (90%) 90
Specialized: Assumes experience in practice area or field (10%) 10