3D printing expands capabilities in Sewickley Academy, Quaker Valley classrooms
From iPhone cases to robotic prosthetics, 3D printer users are letting their imaginations run wild.
While the technology first started taking shape in the 1980s, 3D printing has become more popular over the last few years as prices of its equipment have dropped, users say.
From research firms to college campuses, the technology has made its way to area middle and high school classrooms, including those at Sewickley Academy and Quaker Valley.
“It's unbelievable,” Quaker Valley Middle School pre-engineering technology teacher Joe Prosdocimo said. “We used to make our drawings and imagine what they are. Now, the students can see what their work can become.”
Prosdocimo said seventh- and eighth-grade students have used the technology since last school year in technology education classes.
Students in Cristy McCloskey's Interactive Design and Development class successfully created their first 3D project — a working whistle — just a few weeks after the school received its 3D printer, she said.
“We've been trying to make some small things with the different design software and seeing what we can accomplish,” McCloskey said, adding that much of the past few weeks has been trial and error with projects.
Computer software is used to create sketches of objects, which then can be printed using special plastic loaded into the machine.
Print time depends on the scope of the project.
The whistle took about 50 minutes to print. Some items, so far, have taken up to two hours to print at Sewickley Academy, McCloskey said.
Senior Billy Sullivan said he considers the technology revolutionary.
“You can make something that is virtual and then have it become a tangible object,” he said.
Sullivan said he envisions the technology being a game-changer in everyday situations as it becomes available to more users.
“It's also interesting that you can make parts that you can buy,” he said.
“If you need a specific part, then you could just design it around your other components and print it.
“That's the big difference between just being able to buy something versus making something.
“If you think about how online shopping was a huge revolution, this is kind of the same thing because not only are you buying something and having it sent to you, you can buy something and actually print it or modify it so it works for your needs.”
Isreal Williams said he's hopeful to create a 3D Batman logo.
“I got really big into the ‘Dark Knight' series over the summer and I needed something to try to print to learn the concept of the software, so I decided to pick a bat logo,” he said.
Williams first created a 2D sketch, and hopes to print it soon.
“Mrs. McCloskey, what are the chances of us actually printing this?” he asked his teacher during an interview.
“I'll give it a 50 percent (chance),” she told him.
Junior Janelle Sands is in the process of creating a toy top.
She managed to get the bottom portion to print, but was having difficulty with a top piece.
Still, Sands said, she enjoys the technology.
“It's kind of cool to have your ideas come to life,” she said.
“It's 2D on the screen or on paper, but then it comes out (of the printer) and you can hold it and play with it and actually use it.”
Quaker Valley's Prosdocimo said he is fascinated by the ability to create replacement items.
“If you want to make gears or parts that are broken, you could draw it on the computer and replace it,” he said.
Sewickley Academy senior Danny McCormick said the technology could lessen the need for individually handcrafted items.
“If you're creating a model for a new invention, it's a lot easier to print out 100 models than handcraft 100 models to send,” he said.
McCloskey said more Sewickley Academy students will use the technology in an upcoming trimester at the school.
But McCloskey, like her students, is excited to see sketches become objects in her classroom.
“We printed a chalk holder that's in use,” she said. “That's amazing.”
Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Bobby Cherry to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Party hosts, singer enhance Fourth of July celebrations for Sewickley-area residents
- Quaker Valley board renews church’s lease of Osborne school
- Quaker Valley Families await word of kindergarten location
- Cyclists’ safety at heart of Sewickley discussion
- Sewickley native taps talents, lands lead role in horror flick
- Edgeworth woman believes oak trees cause her danger