Physics 150 – Modern Design and Fab – Fall 2019

Professor: Philip Lubin

Class:  Fri 3-5  Broida 5223


TA: Jose Fernando Luna Rios



Course Overview:

This course is designed to introduce students to the modern era of fabrication. Understanding and mastering the methods and techniques of modern design, simulation and fabrication is critical to the success of cutting edge physics. With the vast increase in computational power, the methods of experimental design and simulation have evolved enormously over the past generation.  The modern cell phone and laptop (~ 0.1-1 TFLOPS) has orders of magnitude more computational power than the fastest super computers that allowed us to design earlier high energy physics experiments as well as allowed us to reach the moon some 50 years ago. This is now a self-reinforcing system where computational power is used to design the next generation of computational power. Harnessing this power in an effective manner is key to modern design and analysis that enables the next generation of Physics discoveries as well as driving the backbone of the world economy.  This will be a course both “for and by” UCSB undergrads in a combined faculty, staff and student-led exploration into modern CAD, CAM, FEA and fabrication. We will guide students through processes of designing and manufacturing parts with projects as well as team coordination. Students’ final work will be  showcased at the end of the quarter. This would serve to not only demonstrate the things students have learned but also as a way to motivate other physics students by showing them what they can create with the resources available to them. Motivating students to use facilities available to them with the proper training to do so effectively will create a “community” of undergraduate that will be self sustaining. This will also lay the groundwork for  more advanced courses in the future. Students will use high end CAD, CAM and finite element analysis (FEA) techniques using Siemens NX and other numerical methods to both design and simulate mechanical systems as well as build sub elements using modern fabrication techniques including laser cutting and machining, CNC machining, 3D printing, laser metrology and micro-machining techniques. Understanding the various tools available to turn your design into “reality” is also one of the critical lessons of this class. With the advent of additive machining technologies and the rapid growth of “rapid prototyping” facilities, it is important to be able to choose the most timely and cost effective manner to proceed from design to fabrication. This revolution in additive manufacturing is just beginning and it will radically change the fabrication landscape in the future. More of the same is not the road to success. It is crucial to understand this revolution.

These same techniques are used by many organizations and companies including NASA, Boeing, Space X, Tesla and virtually every high tech industry, national lab and organization. . Theory oriented students are encouraged as well as experimentally oriented students. The skills learned and demonstrated in this course are essential to the success of UCSB Physics graduates in a wide variety of fields. As this is a non-traditional “class” a high level of self motivation is required.

Students will choose one or more “projects” to work on over the quarter and will fabricate using several techniques including 3D printing. Collaboration in class is highly encouraged and teams can form to pursue more advanced projects.

At the end of the quarter students will present what they have done in a public display.


Use of high end CAD/CAM/FEA Code:

The class will use a very high end software package (Siemens NX) for Computer Aided Design (CAD) along with Computer Aided Machining (CAM) and Finite Element Analysis (FEA). Modern design uses sophisticated numerical analysis to for rapid design and structural, thermal and other multi physics analysis as well as to run computer controlled machines for both additive and subtractive machining. All of the computers in the PSR and in 5223 have Siemens NX installed. Students can also install it on their laptops but will have to check out licenses when on campus. It can only be run on campus and CANNOT be used for ANY commercial applications. This is NOT a student program but is the same program used by Boeing, NGC, ATK, Space X, Tesla, NASA and many other high end users. It is NOT a toy program. Mastery of this type of software is highly sought after in research labs, industry and national labs. 


UCSB Access to Siemens NX Install (must have valid email):

Some useful links:


UCSB Physics Undergrad Design and Innovation Group – POINT (Physics Organization of Innovation and Technology)

Tue 5-6 in Broida 3302
Scott Marino, President:
Davis Thuillier, Vice President:
Anna Pedersen, Vice President:
Tyler Grange, Treasurer:

General Resources and YouTube Siemens NX tutorials and projects

NX 12 textbook (download PDF – 200 pages):

Other Resources:  (Using NX Assemblies and Mechatronics)

UCSB CNSI Innovation Workshop (this requires access and funding to use)
Intro Level Free Web Based CAD and Modeling from AutoDesk:

3D Scanning and Point Clouds

AutoDesk RecapPro – student version – use your email to make an account for access to this and other software

Recap tutorial:

Drone Point Clouds and Geo points – if you are interested in Drone 3D imaging 

FEA – Finite Element Analysis


Rapid Prototyping Services:

Rapid Prototyping Price Quote:

White paper on 3D printing material selection:


File Conversion for Rapid Prototyping:

Post Processors for various CNC Machines:

FEA examples:

Student Design Contest:


Udemy Course (costs $ – not required)