Aims Community College Teams Up with Alquist 3D to Launch Innovative Online 3D Printing Course

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Aims Community College and a 3D printing construction technology company in Greeley are teaming up to offer a basic-level online training course in 3D concrete printing.

Aims is working with Alquist 3D to develop the four-unit course, “Introduction to 3D Concrete Printing,” which will look at the fundamental components of 3D concrete printing. 3D concrete printing uses extremely large-scale 3D printers, often measuring 30 feet in height and length to extrude concrete from a nozzle, according to All3DP.com, an online magazine for 3D printing.

The self-paced, 30-hour certificate course is expected to begin this summer. The course will extend for six weeks. The cost is $250, and the curriculum is being developed between Alquist and Aims — while also initiating work between the company and the college on future residential and infrastructure projects, according to a news release from Aims.

Alquist announced its relocation to Greeley in October 2023.

The course will include four modules: a history and overview of 3D concrete printing; robotics — or robotic motion systems, how they are positioned and operate; materials science, which will discuss the different cements used, printing characteristics of the cement, machinery to mix and pump materials and how cement materials are tested for strength; and design, which will cover limitations and characteristics of the 3D concrete printing process.

“The importance is really the fundamentals of these four sections,” Aims Continuing Education Program Coordinator Rina Mitchell said. “And understanding what it is like in this industry to really get started out.”

Mitchell said the intention of the online and self-pacing format of the course is to provide students with enough information to step into the 3D concrete printing industry, and then begin with hands-on learning.

For more information on the course, go to aims.edu/programs/continuing-education.

Leaders from Alquist, the city of Greeley, and other local agencies highlighted 3D concrete printing as a solution to housing affordability and availability during the announcement of the company’s relocation to the city. Alquist’s company headquarters is now located at 617 6th St. in Greeley.

Alquist constructs homes using a unique concrete mix that can be 3D printed to form the walls of a home and other infrastructure pieces such as curbs, sidewalks, and drainage systems.

An Alquist infrastructure project with the city of Greeley was planned to start last fall, printing curb systems with integrated drainage. According to a city spokesperson, the project is currently in the design phase. The city and Alquist are collaborating to develop project specifications and standards.

The initial step in the collaboration between Aims and Alquist involved the company using space at Aims’ Applied Technology Center for research and development efforts before relocating to its downtown location, according to Aims Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Nicholas Spezza. Spezza mentioned that the company continues to utilize space at the Aims center.

Spezza emphasized the curriculum for the online course is a collaborative effort between Aims and Alquist.

“It is another … ‘concrete’ example of our relationship and its development,” he said.

Spezza said the college’s work with Alquist on the 3D concrete printing is “a celebratory moment” for him. Aims is supporting Alquist’s technology, co-designing curriculum and working with the company for the technology to become useful for students.

“How do we as a college pay attention to what industry needs and what our community needs in terms of learning?” Spezza added.

Alquist is also building homes for the new Hope Springs project in Greeley.

Deemed Habitat for Humanity’s largest community in Colorado, an objective of Hope Springs is to provide affordable and sustainable housing solutions for local families during a longstanding housing crisis with escalating home prices nationwide.

The project will bring 491 affordable housing units to the 42-acre community. A collaborative effort among multiple groups, including federal, state and local governments, Hope Springs is located between 32nd Street and 23rd Avenue, behind the Walmart Supercenter on 23rd Avenue.

The project partners broke ground on the project last month and expect to complete the development by 2029.

Spezza said the Aims course will be the first collaborative self-paced online course for the college while working with an industry partner. Spezza mentioned that the new aspect of the course is the collaboration with Alquist and its provision in the 3D printing sphere.

Work is in progress to design a certificate program at Aims with software and a hands-on component around 3D concrete printing, Spezza and Mitchell mentioned. The content for the certificate curriculum is not yet complete.

“It would be a deeper reach than this,” Mitchell said.

Spezza noted that the development of the 3D concrete printing program will be available in the future to students in continuing education and traditional academic programs. The 3D concrete printing program could eventually evolve into a degree program at Aims.

“Our plan is that people should be able to complete certificates on their way to a degree, and this may well become one of those pathways,” Spezza said.

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