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ISU opens 3D printing lab to the public

These are samples of what the ISU 3D Print Lab can offer. | Logan Ramsey, EastIdahoNews.com
POCATELLO — A local university has made it possible for members of the public to to get access to the products of a relatively new and quickly developing technology – 3D printing.
Using the Idaho State University (ISU) website, anyone can now send in the designs for an item and receive a quote from the 3D Print Lab for how much the print will cost. People who are interested can fill out the form on the website and add an STL file to the form.
“My vision is to let everybody in our community know we have these capabilities,” said Michael Crump, a graduate student and teaching assistant at ISU.
Kellie Wilson, a senior lecturer, hopes having access to 3D print products will increase the public’s interest in the technology.
“It’s something that maybe people don’t know a ton about,” Wilson said. “So maybe it pigues people’s interest.”
Wilson said people can order anything from game board pieces to replacement pieces for mechanical objects, as long as the material they choose meets the appropriate strength requirements.
But Crump is also excited for the opportunities this will offer students not just in the mechanical engineering department, but the whole university.
Mechanical engineering students use the 3D Print Lab as a part of their curriculum, but students outside of the department can order prints that help them with assignments or their own projects.
Marco Schoen, Ph.D, Director of Measurement and Control Engineering Research Center, thinks the more students use 3D printing technology, the more the technology will advance.
“Educating students with the knowledge and the use of 3D printing technology, these students go out in industry and innovate, design and implement 3D printing,” Schoen said.
Wilson spoke to the value of students getting personal experience with the technology in the lab, as well as the value of students being able to use the 3D printed pieces for their own projects.
“We like to have hands-on experience where they can build something, see it, test it and, in this case, even implement it into something,” Wilson said.
Schoen said the two people who started the lab were Senior Lecturer Mary Hoffle and Chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department Bruce Savage. In 2006, when the technology was just emerging, they received a grant and purchased the first 3D printing device for the university.
Schoen pointed out that in engineering, they frequently make prototypes; 3D printing seemed like a convenient way to create those.
Originally, the lab was only printing in commonly used plastic filaments, which didn’t offer material strength.
“But it can print parts that show the functionality or the form or the assembly of it,” Schoen said.
Now, the 3D Print Lab offers more than just plastic filaments. They can print onyx material, which is a combination of nylon and chopped carbon fibers. Onyx offers more material strength to prints. The lab offers prints in thirteen different materials, ranging from weaker strength filament for prototypes to material known for resistance to impact and chemicals.
“So we do have a whole lot of different materials that we can print on all of these machines,” Crump said. “we’re much more capable than anybody in the community currently.”
The post ISU opens 3D printing lab to the public appeared first on East Idaho News.
Source: eastidahonews.com

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