CU Denver students in design class

If you haven’t seen a 3D-printed lampshade, now is your chance.

Students in the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) recently had the opportunity to design and 3D print their own lampshades, now on exhibit on the second floor of the CU Denver building. Standing beside their work, it wasn’t just the students beaming with pride. Instructor Maria Delgado, a doctoral student in the Design and Planning Program, also enjoyed celebrating her student’s accomplishments.

CU Denver student in CAP class
CAP student John Farmer stands next to his lampshade creation in Instructor Maria Delgado’s Digital Media class.

The lampshade exhibit is the culmination of the student’s hard work over the course of an entire semester. As part of a Digital Media class taught by Delgado, students integrated their learning of design principles with newly acquired knowledge of 3D design software. “Students were given the methods and materials, and from there the only limitation was their own creativity,” said Delgado.

Leading the way in creativity

Walking through the exhibit, which is on display through Aug. 31, each lampshade catches the eye as distinct from its neighbors. The unique designs highlight the creative abilities of CU Denver students, with lampshades of all different colors, shapes and patterns.

“The whole process is fascinating,” said student Ashley Malloy. “Everything we learned in this class we can use throughout our degree.” The class taught students new skills while simultaneously providing hands-on experience.

Lampshade created in CU Denver CAP class
One of the 3D lampshades created by CU Denver CAP students.

Throughout the course students learned how to operate the design software Rhinoceros 3D, a valuable skill in the field of 3D design. “It was a lot of trial and error, making it a good exercise in application,” said student John Farmer. By the end of the course, the students’ firm grasp of 3D design was evident in their finished lampshades. 

The printing materials used were purchased as part of a grant from the Center for Faculty Development to integrate 3D printing into the classroom beginning in fall 2016. Printing was done in the Inworks lab, as part of the Inworks’ mission to support the university’s educational mission.

Corresponding with CU Denver’s commitment to providing innovative opportunities, CAP has acquired a new powder 3D printer that students can now use in this course.

Skills for the future

“3D printing in the classroom is a high-impact practice that enables students to see their lampshade design prototypes comes to life, and in this case, literally lighting up,” said Delgado. An important part of learning any new skill is the opportunity for practical application. “There’s a big difference between a computer design and the tangible finished product,” said Michelle Nelson. By granting students this opportunity for practical application, CU Denver invests in student preparation for the future.

CU Denver student in digital media
Michelle Nelson stands next to the 3D lampshade she designed in the Digital Media class in CAP.

“We also learned how to make portfolios and present our own work,” said Nelson. “It was a lot of professional development, something we can show future employers.”

After the design and production of the lamps, the students were challenged further to create a video presentation of their lamps. Parts of these presentations now accompany the exhibit highlighting the unique design of each lamp.

The potential uses of 3D printing are almost endless, and learning the basics gives CU Denver students a huge advantage. One student, Bryan Morse, is ready to take the possibilities of 3D printing into the future. “I want to design custom houses and wildlife enclosures that can be 3D printed,” said Morse. As the technology advances, the applications of 3D printing only seem to multiply.

More of the exciting work done in the Digital Media class can be seen on the course Instagram page at 

PHOTO AT TOP: Pictured from left to right: Maria Delgado (instructor), Ashley Malloy, Michelle Nelson, Samuel Lara-Palacios, Bryan Morse and John Farmer. 






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