Although the additive manufacturing (AM) market continues to grow, industries face barriers to AM adoption due to a shortage of skilled designers in the workforce that can apply AM effectively to meet this demand. This shortage is attributed to the high cost and infrastructural requirements of introducing high- barrier-to-entry AM processes such as powder bed fusion (PBF) into in-person learning environments. To meet the demands for a skilled AM workforce, it is important to explore other mediums of AM education, such as computer-aided instruction (CAI) and virtual reality (VR), which can increase access to hands-on learning experiences for inaccessible AM processes. However, limited work compares virtual and physical AM instruction or explores how the differences in immersion and presence between mediums can affect the knowledge gained and the mental effort exerted when learning about different AM processes. To address this gap in the literature, this research evaluates the use of CAI, VR, and in-person instruction in AM process education when learning about material extrusion (ME) and PBF. Our findings show that the differences in immersion and presence between CAI, VR, and in-person instruction do not have a statistically significant effect when learning about ME, but do have a significant effect when learning about PBF. Specifically, we found that VR generally yields equivalent effects in knowledge gain and cognitive load to in-person PBF education while offering advantages in both metrics over CAI learning. The findings from this work thus have significant implications for using VR as an alternative to in-person training to improve designer development in process-centric AM education of typically high-barrier-to-entry AM processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E787-E800
Journal3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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