Interior design 3-D fabrication lab provides UNK students with career skills

At the University of Nebraska at Kearney, a new fabrication lab in the Interior Design Department allows students to get hands-on experience creating interior design models. The College of Business and Technology, Centre for Rural Research and Development and interior design program partnered to develop the new lab. It includes three 3D printers, two laser cutters, a vinyl cutter and two routers, which are all used to design and manufacture interior design prototypes.

A 3D printer allows interior designers, artists and others to print three-dimensional models of two-dimensional digital files. The printer prints layers of plastic following the file’s direction. Students use design programs to create the digital files. Students learn foundational skills of design in the lab, said Jeff Nordhues, assistant professor of family studies and interior design. Students make use of the technology to create architectural and product models, furniture prototypes and solve interior design problems. Beginning Technology, Intermediate Technology and Advanced Technology are the courses that use the lab.

The new fabrication lab solves problems beyond the classroom. Nordhues designed and printed clips using the lab’s 3-D printers. The total cost was about USD 50, giving UNK a savings of more than USD 6,000. “Any kind of design problem can be solved by using this equipment,” said Sylvia Asay, chair of the family students and interior design department.