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Innovation Center plans open house to demonstrate 3-D printing process
The Innovation Center wants to showcase its newest service — a high-quality 3-D printer available for those who desire to print their own projects.
The center is holding an open house Tuesday so the public can see just what a Stratasys Objet350 Connex 3-D printer can do.
The Innovation Center has housed the printer since August after partnering with several entities—including the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Art and Design, the Edison Biotechnology Institute and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity—to purchase it for $250,000.
“We’re just opening up the center and the room where we have the 3-D printer so people can get an idea of what the machine is,” said Anna Jensen, associate director of the Innovation Center. “(People) will get to see and touch and feel and operate some of the things that have been printed.”
The Stratasys Objet350 is available for use by students, professors, community members and businesses. The printer uses liquid plastic that solidifies after being passed through heat. Printed objects are built layer upon layer.
After it’s removed from the printer, the object is surrounded by a protective support material that is stripped by high-pressure water.
Projects start with an inquiry with Innovation Center staff members who work with the printer and check to make sure the correct file, a “.stl” file, is used. Staff might also make suggestions as to what type of plastic should be used and then give a cost estimate, which includes factors such as the size of the object, the amount of support material and the type of actual material used, Jensen said.
Although 3-D printing seems like it could be used strictly for science, the Innovation Center has seen a variety of objects printed.
“People think 3-D printing is science and biotech, which is true, but we have had the College of Art and Design do artwork and mock-ups of architectural design, so it really has a wide range of uses,” Jensen said.
Open house attendants will be shown previous projects and how the technology works, said Jesus Pagan, assistant professor in engineering, technology and management.
“This is kind of trying to answer questions that people might have, in terms of how long a job might take of what materials we have,” Pagan said. “We will try to demystify what 3-D printing is.”