Dienstag, 3. Juli 2018

C3D - CAD & 3D printing training at Georgian Technical University Tiflis

In June 2018 a one week intensive CAD and 3D printing took place at the Georgian Technical University in Tiflis. The objective was, to harmonize the level of knowledge of the professors, graduate students, and students of the faculties of automatization, mechanical engineering, and computer science. New Mojo FDM 3D printers from Stratasys just arrived and they had to be set up, tested and first experienced gathered.

A warm and friendly welcome by the Georgian Technical University who prepared and organized the training perfectly.

The situation

CAD training specific for additive manufacturing technologies
Georgia is a small country with a population of around 2.5 million inhabitants living in the country. Its economy is mostly based on tourism and agriculture. The industrial sector is relatively small. The Automation faculty of the Georgia Technical University has some FDM 3D printer in use already, such as a Leapfrog and one XYZ Printing. Furthermore, there are Fablabs in Georgia who are equipped with 3D printers, laser cutters and other stuff that is useful in maker spaces. So there is quite some material and some expertise around. Also, the faculty of automation does have seminars on Arduino development.

Training: CAD for 3D printing

As for 3D software, Blender and AutoCAD are most predominant and known at the GTU. The usage of Open Source 3D printing solutions, such as Repetier, FreeCAD or OpenSCAD/OpenJSCAD was not common in the academic field, so part of the training consisted in demonstrating and explaining the benefits of those alternatives to commercial products to the students.
Some of the FDM printers of the automatization faculty
In the training lessons, a simple object was created in both FreeCAD, OpenSCAD, and OpenJSCAD in order to learn the differences between the various approaches. While the students did their training, 3D printing-specific design rules were discussed. Creating an object in 3D is one thing, but having it produced by additive manufacturing process for use in the real world a completely different challenge. Mechanical stress has to taken in consideration, especially in regard to the layered structure of FDM 3D prints, as well as the limitations of the 3D printing in general, may it be the precision or maximum resolution of small parts, or the need for support for certain object geometries. 

Unboxing and setting up of Stratasys Mojo printers.

The GTU is about to move into an all-new facility that is just being build and will be finished by the end of 2018.
In order to run classes with future students, that are supposed to get acquainted with 3D printing those Mojo printers were chosen but yet not unboxed nor installed. I requested some support from Stratasys to at least send me the installation files. But nothing of a help reached me before I left for Georgia. So all I had were some Youtube videos which I watched during my flight. OK, the printer is not very complicated, but I would have preferred to prepare my training and include the material in my presentation. Still, it worked out very well. If you have built several RepRap 3D printers like me, the Mojo printer one will not give you much of a headache.
Students and graduates in a practical lesson with Stratasys printers
The Stratasy Mojo printers are FDM devices, that promise ease of use, failsafe and beginner friendly. They do have a dual head system which is fixed to run with one material printhead and one printhead with support filament only (HIPS). Many details are designed to minimize potential errors and problems in the workflow. The 1.8 Kg filament comes in vacuum sealed bags that also include a printhead. So there is no printhead service to be expected. You change it all in one go. This makes the printer very entry level friendly but also limits the options that other 3D printers have. You can only use the printing material from the manufacturer and that means limited colors and materials (ABS). But for learning purpose this foolproof system is ideal. Anyone ever worked with self-build REPRAP systems knows how easily one can get lost in the many configuration settings of slicers and hardware. With the Mojo printer, this won´t be the case, since the options are very automatically set. The parameters such as printing speed, extrusion rate, retract etc. are preset to a safe level and cannot be changed. The Mojo printer, therefore, is slower than most printers, but the result is almost certainly of good quality and without any issues while printing. So as said before, such a system seems to be ideal for a technical university. Setting up the printers with the two included CDs worked easy, fast and flawless. The slicer only offers only a few settings. The support can be configured in three levels of intensity. After 20 minutes the first prints were running. One went well, but the second one failed due to a power outage in the not yet finished building of the GTU. That showed how important an UPS could be because the Mojo printers have a resume function after a power failure.
Still, the two demo models were taken off the building platform. The support material then needs to be dissolved in a special heated device with a liquid dissolver, that comes with each printer.

All in all the training was a big success, since the participants were highly motivated and did already have a very good knowledge in their respective field. The challenge was to combine those technical knowledge resources into one - additive manufacturing aka 3D printing.


Georgia as a small country has all opportunities, sufficient equipment, and a highly motivated academic staff, to start into the future of manufacturing. Still, 3D printing activist from fablabs, university and the global 3D printing must grow together and exchange their knowledge and experience to create a sustainable additive manufacturing sector in the country. 
3D printing is a global phenomenon. A part can be designed in one country and produced in another one. From that perspective, the lack of a driving industrial sector like automotive, aerospace or medical like in Germany, UK or the US, is not limiting the establishment of a vital 3D printing industry. CAD and 3D printing is as universal as software design. It can be done almost anywhere in the world where skilled software engineers can be found. Of course, any engineer should have practical experience with a technology to understand the full potential of it to create good solutions. This foundation is achieved by the current personnel and technical resources at the GTU. More training and more practical work may be needed to increase the number of experts in that field in Georgia. Since additive manufacturing technology is at an early stage (globally), the race is still open! There is quite some time left, to keep up with more advanced hotspots of the technology in Western Europe and the USA. Also, additive manufacturing is undergoing a tremendous diversification in production technologies such as 3D metal printing, DLP, SLS and some others. Different technologies will serve different applications. So all these new trends go into different directions. Still, it is important for a country to have experts at hand who understand the fundamentals of AM, then quickly adopt new trends. 
Additive manufacturing can jump-start a whole industry even in a small country within years. The evolutionary process of traditional manufacturing methods cannot and does not have to be reconstructed. From lathe and routers to CNC machines is a long way that took the German machinery industry decades for example. It is very hard to build up expertise in these fields in a short timespan. But with AM (Additive Manufacturing) it is possible to shortcut the development of an industrial sector. Because it is still at an early stage, anywhere in the world.
Once additive manufacturing becomes ubiquitous the cards will be mixed again, again compare it to the IT sector. Any nation can ramp up its own additive manufacturing capabilities if it has invested in the education of the personnel and training equipment in the years before.

More about Georgia

After the training ended, there was some time to visit nearby attractions such as the old town of Tiflis (which is called Tbilisi in Georgian) and taste some local food. Georgia is full of old churches and places of various religions.  
There is a very popular tourist area at the black sea, which I did not have the opportunity to visit - maybe some other time. I am sure from what I have seen so far while in Georgia, it will be worth a trip. 
A café in Tiblisi that could just be in an Art Deco quartier in Paris as well
If you would not know, that you are already in Eurasia, you may think that Georgia is right in the heart of Europe. The mentality of people, buildings and art and design look and feel as if one visits a spot in Paris or Lisbon. There is really not much difference to it. People are very friendly and polite - which the are not always in Europe.. The capital Tbilisi feels secure and has a vivid nightlife, with cafés, restaurants and much much art wherever the eyes turns to. There is history - and I mean really old history like over1000-year-old buildings, churches and more in each and every corner of the city to see. 
The true richness of Georgia appears to be its tremendous culture, art, and unbelievable history. Many empires have conquered - and left - this small country. 

Some impressions from Georgia, it´s places & people and their food!

From ancient times...

The Mtskheta church of Holy Cross which we paid a visit to on the outskirts of the capital Tbilisi was build at the beginning of the 4th century. There are so many historical sites, that visiting them all would take a whole trip of its own.
Members of the Georgian Technical University show me around
The church is a national symbol and was the only object I was able to find as 3D print on Thingiverse. I suggested to have it 3D scanned and 3D printed by some students in future times, to demonstrate the abilities of this technology.
But apart from technology, if you love to see lots of art, statues, old mystery places Georgia is definitely a place to go.

Guess who the donkey is here

Come on - Paris Metro?

Really yummy tasty food! Cheese, wine grilled meat. Sodas?!

...to the modern age

The capital of Georgia Tbilisi features both: Ancient sites as well as modern places like malls, hotels museums and so on. In its history, the city has undergone many changes due to the influences of other nations that conquered and occupied Georgia for centuries or decades. While this may have been difficult times for the former generations, the variety of the art and culture has become very unique and rich. In the last years, many new buildings have been added to the scene and the architectural style is very modern and appealing.
Georgian contemporary art in the Builtmore Hotel Lobby
 Anything that you may expect in a western capital can be found here. The mix of art & culture in the streets and the new very modern style architecture works very well and gives the city a unique very dynamic appearance. 
In the stores, you can find anything from luxury to everyday items. Prices are comparably low and the selection is very good.
7 story mall in Tbilisi (Galleria)
Streetview in Tbilisi with Hotel
There is much more to see, tell and learn, but I will put that into another report some other time. Feels free to contact me if you have any questions on this particular trip or need 3D printer training for your purpose. I am off to China soon but will be available for consultation, training and more after that again.

July 2018
Marcel Alexander Buth


If you interested in the 3D printing sector of Georgia, whether you offer printers, tradeshows or anything of interest in the field of additive manufacturing you should contact :

Georgian Technical University
Faculty of Informatics and Control Systems
Department of Computer Engineering
Professor Ia Mosahshvili
Link to Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ia-mosashvili-42360339

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