Course Syllabus

MECE 4606 Digital Manufacturing – Spring 2018

Mondays 1:10-3:40, Classroom: 750 Schapiro Cepser

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).

Staffing and office hours:

Instructor: Prof. Hod Lipson, Mudd 535E,

Office hours: Monday 10am-12pm, or by email appointment.

TA: Joni Mici 

Office hours: Wednesdays 2 PM - 3 PM in Mudd 122B

Course assistants: Adrian Lasrado and Haeyeon Jang

Course website: All course materials and assignments will be distributed through Canvas (this website)

Piazza: Students are encouraged to 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:

  • Laser cutting assignment: 10%
  • Lattice design assignment: 10%
  • Topology Optimization assignment: 10%
  • Food printing assignment: 40%
  • Final Exam 30%

Late policy

Every student receives four days (96 hours) "grace allowance" for late submissions. These hours can be used for any reason whatsoever, including but not limited to religious observation, job interviews, conference trips, sport competitions, or medical issues. There is no need to justify the use of grace hours.

With every assignment submission, each student should list total number of grace hours used so far and total number of hours remaining. These numbers should add up to 96.

A team submission late by X hours depletes X hours from each team member.

Once grace hours are depleted, a penalty of 5% for every day or part of a day late will be incurred, unless the student provides a written note from their advising dean supporting an excused delay.


Improper, irresponsible or unsafe behavior will result in loss of laboratory privileges in MechE Lab, Makerspace, and the MechTech Lab [Mudd 273]. 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.

Use of third party software libraries

Assignments are designed so that third part libraries are not needed. If a student wishes to use an external library, permission should be requested publically on Piazza. Any library used must be cited in the report.

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 Assignment due date (11:59pm)
1 Mon, Jan 22 Overview + 10 Principles + safety
2 Mon, Jan 29 2D Cutting Laser box: Design Sun, Feb 04
3 Mon, Feb 05 AM Processes (1) Laser box: Assembled Sun, Feb 11
4 Mon, Feb 12 CAD: Generative
5 Mon, Feb 19 nTopology Lattice design Sun, Feb 25
6 Mon, Feb 26 AM Processes (2) Lattice design: Printed Sun, Mar 04
7 Mon, Mar 05 Topology Optimization (Frustum)
8 Mon, Mar 12 Break
9 Mon, Mar 19 Hardware: G-Code, Gantries; Demo Topology optimization Sun, Mar 25
10 Mon, Mar 26 Topology Optimization (Altair) Topology optimization Sun, Apr 01
11 Mon, Apr 02 Broader Impacts/ Lise? Food Printing: Square Sun, Apr 08
12 Mon, Apr 09 Metal: Material Properies (Halada) Food Printing: Pyramid Sun, Apr 15
13 Mon, Apr 16 Architecture/ Ryan Johns / review Food Printing: Two materials Sun, Apr 22
14 Mon, Apr 23 Final Presentations Food Printing: Two materials Sun, Apr 29
15 Mon, Apr 30 Final Presentations Presentations Sun, May 06
Mon May 7, 1-4pm Final exam (tentative) See registrar


Course Summary:

Date Details