by Abigail Megginson
Printing something has never been so much fun. The 3-D printer is like something you’d imagine in a sci-fi movie. It can print 3-D objects that you can actually hold in your hand. This kind of technology is limitless and has an infinite number of applications. The good news is, PSC has bought their very own 3-D printer that currently resides in Bldg. 21.
Danny Steele, Director of Applied Science, has been pushing for this printer for about a year and a half for his mechanical drafting, C&C design and fabrication, and architectural drafting program. Finally, as the fall 2014 semester began, the printer was bought for a whopping $48,000. Before you say that’s too much, you must realize the possibilities that come with the price tag.
3-D Printers have many applications even in outer space. Instead of having to order a tool or part from earth, a 3-D printer in space can receive a design file to print a certain tool instantly. In addition to tools, food is another possibility for 3-D printers. This has the best application for space travel so astronauts can get pizza in 30 minutes or less. It’s all about using chemical composition to create the food.
3-D printers also have some more down to earth uses. It can be used for prosthetic purposes. A scanner can actually scan the effected area of an armless or legless person and the prosthetic can be customized to fit the area perfectly.
There are many steps that go into printing a 3-D object. First, design instructions must be sent to the printer. Then, a solidifier is added to the powdery substance (composite de granulate). The printer adds the solidifier in layers and an object is produced out of the powder. This process is called additive manufacturing opposed to subtractive manufacturing where substance is removed from an original piece much like carving out of wood. After the object is taken out of the powder, the remaining powder is then blown off and then it is put in a hardener to finalize its creation.
As for the printer at PSC, The classes that will be using the printer most frequently are the mechanical drafting program, architectural drafting program, and the C&C design fabrication program. For example, if a student was in the architectural drafting program, they would be able to create a small model of a building. This is called orthographic projection isometric drawing.
The formerly long and lengthy process from drawing board to finished project is now almost entirely direct. A student need only come up with a design and the printer will allow them to create the finished product.
Steele says he thinks, “The most important thing is that the skills they [students] learn here is something the industry is now looking for. They want people who can do 3-D drafting. They want people that understand how additive manufacturing works and to walk in with the skills that they can use right away.” Steele also says the great thing about the 3-D printer is the creativity it allows students to have. Their imagination is about the only limit this printer has.