In a world of space-age technology straight out of Star Trek, such as small tablet computers and Skype, there is a new form of technology at the school. One that, in many ways, could lead to new learning opportunities. It provides a way to print a 3-D model of an object of your design and, within hours, have it at your disposal. It’s true, the school has bought a 3-D printer. Available for all students to use, this printer is a remarkable feat of engineering.
What is a 3-D printer? A 3-D printer is a tool that feeds hot plastic onto a surface in specified dimensions using Computer Animated Design (CAD) specifications programmed by a student. Students have used this printer multiple times and have generally been pleased with the results. “The printer is a valuable educational resource for students. It gives students motivation to learn CAD programs and get a physical representation of what they’ve designed. It’s great for people who want to go into engineering careers,” observed a student.
The printer is located in the computer lab, used by students in various classes, utilized specifically by classes such as Computer Applications as part of CAD software training. However, what are students actually creating with this Star-Trek -reference-worthy machine? Digital Media student Reid Ledgerwood has designed and printed internal components for use in his own computer. On a less technical level, Quinn Kissel is working to design and print props for his stop animation short film. In the grander scheme of things, students are excited for the possibilities 3-D printers could bring in the future. Printed food? Printed sentient beings? Printed organs? The future is here.