Printing Tomorrow: Timber Creek’s New Tech Tool

Timber Creek's 3D printer creates two iPhone cases. (Photo by The Creek Yearbook photographer Nancy Davis.)
Timber Creek’s 3D printer creates two iPhone cases. (Photo by The Creek Yearbook photographer Nancy Davis.)

Timber Creek’s student engineers now have a machine that can fabricate almost anything imaginable with only a little time on the computer. The engineering team has recently acquired a three-dimensional printer and is working towards using it efficiently.

Students design the individual 3D pieces using the Autodesk Inventor software, then send the designs to Cube Pro, which sends the 3D design to the printer. After they are printed out they can be re-assembled and put to use. In the right hands, this technology can be used for amazing things.

However, mastering the software and learning how to create different pieces takes a lot of time and isn’t easy. When creating 3D pieces, it is very important to have everything correct so that time and materials aren’t wasted. The 3D printer uses a material called Polylactic acid, or PLA.  The material is basically a plastic filament that the printer can use to form a certain shape that is needed. The printer takes about four hours to create something as big as a phone case, but if something is wrong and the pieces don’t fit together for the final product, students might have to re-print the piece.

Only two students here at Timber Creek, Tim McCormack and Blake Anglin, have fully mastered the software used with the printer.

“Having the three dimensional printer is very useful because it gives us direct access to parts we need so we don’t have to order custom made parts which saves us time and money and virtually cuts out the middle man,” McCormack said.

Currently only the engineering class uses the 3D printer because it is so hard to learn and understand the way it is used. Being the sole class to have the printer at their disposal, the student engineers are using it to make the class more fun and to make their designs faster and better.

Using this printer, the students have a chance at not only making things to help around the school but also help with things around the globe. As the students use the printer to its full potential, they could make some pretty incredible new designs.

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