Newly formed club offers experiences for 3D printing

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Tera Braly

Mr. Sayce's 3D Printer starts to form the base of a ring. The machine spent minutes to warm up before working on the object.

Tera Braly, Staff Illustrator

A new club on campus allows students to create objects that start simply as ideas they dream up.

The 3D Printing Club, which has been churning out designs since December, was created by Junior Barmey Chum, who said he got hooked on it during his sophomore year when he took an Intro to Engineering Design class.

The club provides a chance for members to be exposed to the world of engineering and see their ideas printed out in three dimensions.

“I was really hooked on to 3D printing and 3D modeling stuff,” he said. “We’re making stuff like rings and dragons and robots and castles and a lot of cool stuff.”

Chum worked with engineering teacher John Sayce, who is the faculty sponsor, to start the club. To create the designs for the printer, they design the objects in a computer-aided drawing program called Autodesk Inventor Pro that allows users to do 3D modeling.

They learn how to do technical drawing and make parts fit together.Chum said one of their larger projects is to build a robot from individual parts that they print out.

“Basically, we’re designing robot heads, robot bodies, and robot arms and legs and stuff like,” he said. “We have to design them so that they ft together. And they stay like kind of like an action figure. And we have to make sure it looks good.”

Learning to use the design software and the printer does not require a lot of prior knowledge or experience, Sayce said.

“I would say you need to be somewhat competent with utilizing computers and software a little bit, using different software tools,” he said.

“We don’t mind helping people learn it. So if you come cold, but they had a real interest and they seem like fairly computer savvy, then we’ll assist them trying to use that tool.”

The club meets on Wednesdays after school from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and participation has grown steadily since it’s first meeting.

As 3D printers become more commonplace at high school campuses, it helps expose young people to engineering concepts and skills, Sayce said. The magic of seeing a design created in front of the designer is a gratifying experience that can motivate students to appreciate learning engineering.

“I think it will, you know, get them more interested in engineering and kind of expand their horizons about what you can and cannot do,” Sayce said. “A lot of people say ‘Is this really practical? Does it have a real value?’ And yes, they can see it.”