Schools and Universities turn to 3D printers to help in the classroom

3-D printers in the classroom
Photo Source: MGN Online
Photo Source: MGN Online

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A man claims he can build a gun made completely out of plastic, by using the technology in 3D printers. This is the most recent event putting the spotlight on the high-tech machines.

When it comes to what the machines can produce, the possibilities are endless. Hospitals are using the technology to create artificial human body parts. Architects and engineers are using 3D machines to create project models and actual pieces used in building and construction.

Market experts say 3D printers are becoming more affordable and the companies that manufacture them are going beyond its industrial use and targeting the everyday consumer. One major player in the growing 3D printer market is 3D Systems. The company, based out of Rock Hill South Carolina, recently announced it will be the first to sell a consumer sized 3D printer at a major retailer. The company says it will hit the shelves at Staples stores across the county in June. According to 3D System's website, the Cube 3D will start at $1,299.

Colleges and schools are catching on to the growing popularity of 3D printers. Suliban Devaes, Engineering Proofessor at Horry Georgetown Technical College (HGTC) said  he's very familiar with the new technology.

"Experts are predicting that everyone is going to have on 3D printer by 2025. It's definitely growing in popularity," Devaes said.

He uses the machine in his classroom along with the teachers who teach the Introduction to Engineering course at Conway High School. (CHS). Conway High School is the only school in the district with a 3D printer, but this week the district purchased two of them that will go to two of the district's academies.

Coastal Carolina Physics Professor Chris Moore says his department recently purchased a 3D printer to use in the research lab. Moore says it will transform and improve how they do research.

"It's very low cost material and it's also very rapid. The same part that would take a student several days to make in years past, can now be done in 15 minutes," said Moore.

These 3D printers work a lot like a computer printer one has at the home or office. Instead of printing ink on paper, with the click of a button, the machine will create a three-dimensional product.

It starts with a 3D design created using computer software. That design is then sent to the printer for production, and layer by layer the printer will replicate the 3D design. There are a variety of printers ranging from capabilities, size and printing materials.

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