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In the past week, the Center for Online Learning and Innovation (COLI)’s two 3D printers have been hard at work!  In his PHY104 class, Mike Wood, PhD, chair of the Quantitative Sciences Department, has introduced students to computer-aided design process for 3D printing, and the students have drawn up some creative digital work for our printers (named Rigby and Mordecai).  Each student designs the object and draws it in a web-based application called Tinkercad.  These drawings are then processed in a second application called a slicer, which translates the digital drawing so Rigby or Mordecai can print it.  Finally, the printers create the physical object by adding hot plastic, fed from spools of thin filament, to a build plate.  The object “grows” up from the plate over a period of several hours.

3D Printing, or “additive manufacturing,” is a new process used in a variety of industries, healthcare, and education.  Our little printers have bigger (and more expensive) cousins working at advanced technology firms, such as Moog, Inc., here in Buffalo.  Faculty at various levels in education use 3D printing to produce teaching aids, models, and replica artifacts.

We can’t wait to present students with the physical version of their digital art!  Thank you, Dr. Wood, for introducing students to an important and growing field of engineering and artistic creativity, and for providing COLI an opportunity to print for your students!

Submitted by: Mark Gallimore, director, COLI