Course Syllabus

E4606 Digital Manufacturing – Spring 2017

Mondays 1:10-3:40,  Hamilton Hall room 503

This course examines a variety of digitally-controlled manufacturing processes that convert computer models directly into physical objects. Topics include: Additive manufacturing processes, CNC, Sheet cutting processes, Numerical control, Generative and algorithmic design. Topology Optimization, Broader social, economic, legal and business implications will also be reviewed. Course involves both theoretical exercises and a hands-on project.

On completion of the course, you should

  • Be familiar with the product realization process and its documentation (ABET c).
  • Be familiar with basic tools of design and manufacturing such as CAD and machine tools. (ABET k).
  • Function effectively in a team. (ABET d).

There will be two main projects in this course.  In the first, you will design make and sell a physical product online. In the second project, teams of four or five students will design, analyze and build an air motor.

Staffing and office hours:

Instructor: Prof. Hod Lipson, Mudd 535E,

Office hours: Tue 3:45-5:15pm, or by email appointment.

TAs: Joni Mici (

Course assistants: Jang-Won Ko and Keya Ghonasgi

Course website: All official course materials and assignments will be distributes through this website

Piazza: Students must use Piazza on the course website for all technical questions and logistical clarification. Direct emails to the instructors should be used only for personal matters


  1. Overview of digital manufacturing processes
    1. What makes a manufacturing process “digital”
    2. The 10 disruptive principles of digital manufacturing processes
  2. Additive Manufacturing processes – Engineering polymers, metals, ceramics
    1. Stereolithography
    2. Selective Laser Sintering
    3. Fused Deposition Modeling
    4. Polyjet
    5. LENS
    6. Layered object manufacturing
  3. Additive Manufacturing processes – Advanced materials
    1. Electronic Materials
    2. Bioprinting
    3. Food Printing
  4. Material properties
    1. Mechanical properties of printed materials
    2. Post processing
    3. Empirical and data-driven models
  5. CNC
    1. Mill
    2. Lathe
  6. 2D Cutting
    1. Laser Cutting
    2. Plasma Cutting
    3. Waterjet
  7. Programmable Assembly
    1. Digital Assembly
    2. Digital Bending
  8. Fundamentals of geometric representations for digital manufacturing
    1. Solid representations
    2. Boundary representations
    3. Function representations
    4. Voxel representations
  9. Algorithmic design for digital manufacturing
    1. Parametric Models
    2. Vibrational Geometry
    3. Generative models
    4. Topology optimization
  10. Machine Control
    1. Gantry positioning approaches
    2. STL/AMF Slicing
  11. Broader impacts
    1. Safety, Liability and intellectual property
    2. Environmental impact
    3. On-demand fabrication models and mass customization


None required. A reading list will be distributed.


Your final grade will be determined from the class activities as follows:

  • Lattice design assignment: 10%
  • Laser cutting assignment: 10%
  • Topology Optimization assignment: 10%
  • PCB Milling assignment: 10%
  • Food printing assignment: 30%
  • Final Exam 30%


Improper, irresponsible or unsafe behavior will result in loss of laboratory privileges in both MechE Lab and the MectTech Lab. Due to the high fabrication content of this course, this policy will be strictly enforced. Grades may also be used to penalize safety.

Academic Integrity

Students may copy any part of someone else's design work (including from other students, external sources, previous years, the Internet, etc.) but they must explicitly cite the source and provide a complete and full citation. In this case they will be graded on their added value compared to the source. If copying text verbatim, put copied text in quotes and cite source. If paraphrasing someone else's idea, cite original source.

Copying without attribution is considered plagiarism and a violation of academic integrity.

Students with Disabilities

If you are a student with a documented disability on record at Columbia University and wish to have a reasonable accommodation made for you in this class, please contact the instructor immediately.

Tentative Schedule:

Week Lecture date Topic Assigment due on Friday
1 Mon, Jan 23 Overview + 10 Principles
2 Mon, Jan 30 2D Cutting Laser box: Design
3 Mon, Feb 06 AM Processes (1) Laser box: Assembled
4 Mon, Feb 13 CAD: Generative Lattice design
5 Mon, Feb 20 nTopology Lattice design: Printed
6 Mon, Feb 27 PCB Milling PCB
7 Mon, Mar 06 AM Processes (2) PCB
8 Mon, Mar 13 Break
9 Mon, Mar 20 Topology Optimization Topology optimization
10 Mon, Mar 27 Hardware: G-Code, Gantries Topology optimization
11 Mon, Apr 03 Broader Impacts Food Printing: Square
12 Mon, Apr 10 Metal: Material Properties / Future Food Printing: Pyramid
13 Mon, Apr 17 Architecture / Review Food Printing: Spirograph
14 Mon, Apr 24 Final Presentations Food Printing: Two materials
15 Mon, May 01 Final Presentations Presentations
Mon May 8, 1:10-4pm Final exam (tentative) See registrar


Course Summary:

Date Details