3D Design

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About Practical 3D Design

Tenaces is a $3.8 million U.S. Department of Education-funded grant project of San Antonio College. The Tenaces 3D website focuses on the Practical 3D Design, Visualization and Fabrication component of the grant.

Due to recent advances in technology, 3D design, scanning and printing tools are making their way into traditional industries and careers. Archaeologists around the world 3D scan ancient landmarks and historical artifacts for posterity. Police departments capture 3D crime scene records for high-profile investigations. Hospitals digitally sculpt and print realistic facial prostheses for patients with traumatic injuries. Unfortunately, none of these novel applications are addressed by existing 3D coursework in Texas or elsewhere in the U.S.

Common course offerings for the state of Texas do not acknowledge the growing ubiquity of 3D or anticipate the impact these technologies will have on the global marketplace. While some classes within the DFTG, ARTV and GAME rubrics touch on related skills, each is locked within its own silo; sculpting is for games, CAD is for engineering, etc. We want to change this state of affairs in Texas.

Since 2012, San Antonio College has used 3D technologies to support Biology, Geology, Astronomy and Chemistry classroom instruction, to assist the National Cave and Karst Research Institute in resolving speleological research questions, and to scan and catalog over 200 sauropod and theropod dinosaur footprints discovered in Bexar County for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

In addition to these activities, SAC staff members have presented 3D scanning, sculpting and printing technologies to mortuary science students and faculty for five consecutive semesters. Students have responded well to these short, hands-on demonstrations of the technology and have expressed an interest in obtaining further training. The mortuary science department at SAC, which has long used industry-standard oil-based clay in its restorative arts classes, has recently purchased computers along with 3D scanner and printer equipment in anticipation of adding these skills into its curriculum.

The Practical 3D Design, Visualization and Fabrication program will expand on San Antonio College’s use of groundbreaking technologies in education and research by introducing 3D scanning, modeling, visualization and printing technology to students and professionals from a wide variety of disciplines and fields. SAC will use U.S. Department of Education funding to conduct high-tech 3D professional development workshops and create innovative course and certificate offerings.

Through this project, our team will conduct Practical 3D professional development workshops to be hosted on the San Antonio College campus and at partnering institutions. This hands-on training will include: 1) how to 3D scan people, places and things; 2) how to 3D sculpt plants, animals and other natural shapes; 3) how to 3D model buildings, tools and other mechanical objects; 4) how to parametrically design 3D landscapes and terrain features; 5) how to use 3D visualization and online distribution technologies; and 6) how to prepare and print 3D models.

Input collected from these workshops will be used to refine the development of a new Introduction to 3D Technologies class, which will form the foundation for an Enhanced Skills certificate for professionals and educators; and a Level-One certificate for students. The 3D Technologies class will then be offered as an elective option suitable for various degrees. The new course, certificates and elective offering will then serve as a statewide model for adoption.

The Practical 3D Design, Visualization and Fabrication program at SAC will capitalize upon groundbreaking tools and techniques that have recently emerged on the world stage and which are being used in advanced fields. As these technologies continue to trickle down to other disciplines, our project will set the standard for teaching 3D content creation skills in Texas. Our online video channel will become the source for 3D development “best practices”. Our programs will advance the use of high-technology throughout the state among diverse disciplines and student populations. The products of our 3D design and scanning projects will be disseminated to educators around the world using an online digital library of models, visualizations and simulations.



The Tenaces 3D project will create workshops, classes, an enhanced skills certificate, a Level I certificate, and an A.A.S. degree.

Practical 3D Workshops
These short workshops (five two-hour sessions) are designed to introduce 3D technologies to SAC faculty, staff and representatives from local businesses and institutions. These workshop sessions will provide brief hands-on activities in 3D scanning, sculpting, modeling, visualization and fabrication. Feedback from workshop events will be used to help refine the development of SAC’s Introduction to 3D Technologies class (see below).

Proposed Enhanced Skills Certificate
The Enhanced Certificate in Practical 3D Design, Visualization and Fabrication is intended for students who want to create 3D objects for use in a scientific, medical, educational or professional setting.

Proposed Courses
Introduction to 3D Technologies:
This course provides students with an overview of the use of the 3D hardware and software required to scan physical artifacts, sculpt natural shapes, model mechanical objects, visualize three dimensional objects and fabricate those objects.

Digital Sculpting I:
This course explores the use of 3D sculpting software to create artistic, representative and functional digital models. Emphasis is placed on sculpting objects that work in physical as well as virtual space.

Digital Modeling I:
This course explores the use of 3D modeling software to create hard-surface objects such as tools, products and structures. Emphasis is placed on modeling objects that represent physical objects and/or function in the real world.

3D Fabrication Technologies:
This course exposes students to various 3D fabrication technologies and techniques. Additive and subtractive methods will be addressed. In addition, students will also learn to apply traditional molding and casting skills to rapidly produce duplicates of 3D printed objects.

3D Scanning and Spatial Data Acquisition:
This course explores the use of various scanning technologies to 3D capture both surface and subsurface physical details of geological, biological, and manufactured artifacts at macro, micro, and nano scales. Students will learn how to repair 3D scan data and prepare that data for use in visualization and fabrication.

3D Technologies Practicum:
This practicum provides students with the opportunity to apply practical 3D skills toward meeting the real-world needs of various local industries and clients. The instructor will coordinate with practicum hosts in the community to ensure that practicum projects and assignments align with degree/program objectives. 

Digital Sculpting II:
This course is a followup to TRID 1302 – Digital Sculpting I. Students will learn advanced 3D sculpting techniques to create intricate digital 3D models. Emphasis is placed on sculpting objects that work in physical as well as virtual space.

Digital Modeling II:
This course is a followup to TRID 1303 –  Digital Modeling I. Students will learn advanced 3D modeling techniques to create geometrically complex 3D Models. Emphasis is placed on modeling objects that represent physical objects and/or function in the real world.