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September 24, 2013

Career center students using 3-D printer

Career center students using 3-D printer

A hand, mandible, soccer ball and gear shifts.

These items sitting in Tony Maple's classroom at the Century Career Center may seem normal, but they are not.

Made from a 3-D solid model printer, they represent an opportunity not many high school students will have.

The $30,000 printer was purchased with two federal grants, including a $15,000 Technology Resource grant.

"We're exposing people to new technology that is used in businesses or by manufacturers," said James Little, director of Century Career Center. "We're constantly trying to incorporate technology."

It's a technology Maple, who teaches computer-aided design and three engineering classes, is happy to have.

The printer has been up and running for a little more than a week, and it's used by students in engineering design and development, intro to engineering design, computer-aided design and principles of engineering.

Students using Autodesk Inventor to design the objects and then the printer begins, using plastic and a white powder.

"Anything you can draw, it will print," Little said.

Although students are just beginning to learn how to use the printer, Maple is anticipating to continuing partnering with other classes in the Century Career Center. A nursing class might need an object like a mandible and an automotive class might need a model.

Items created will go along with the class curriculum, providing hands-on experience, Maple said.

The length of time it takes to make a project varies a lot on the height, Maple said. A smaller object might take two hours, where a large object could take an entire evening.

After an object is printed, compressed air is used in an enclosed compartment to clean off the design. After that, the item is treated with a super glue-like product that bonds the liquid and powder.

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