Some mechanical engineering students built two 3D printers - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Some mechanical engineering students built two 3D printers

Amarillo, TX -- A group of West Texas A&M students are using new technology to create 3D printers for the School of Engineering and Computer Sciences. 

The goal these students had were to build the three dimensional printers using parts from an existing 3D printer, to be user friendly and cost effective. 

Five students, in three months, built two 3D printers. 

It's a relatively new invention but it's expected to have a major impact as technology advances.

"Instead of things being presented on paper, you can print it out and show it and people can actually hold it and see if it will work and you can actually build working parts too, if your project requires something of a small scale or lightweight, some 3D printers can print out light weight, plastic and you can actually build a project from it." says Juan Ramirez, Mechanical Engineer Graduate 

The plastic that creates the models is called "polylactic acid" also known to be environmentally friendly. 

And depending on the size and scale of the model, the print could take 20 minutes or 20 hours. 

But graduating student Juan Ramirez says the printers are made to be accurate models or tools to be presented at a smaller scale. 

"Scale model of an airplane or new machine part and a working part, you can actually put moving parts together that have been 3D printed and actually show them working models, for modeling and presentation wise." says Ramirez

These 3D printers are worth a few thousand dollars and were funded internally through the engineering department. 

The department says the investment in these printers will benefit future projects.

"To the best of our knowledge it has not been done anywhere else, basically using a 3D printer to make your own. So the idea itself was very exciting and the students were very interested to being involved in a project like that and to see it come to together, to see it work and to see the potential that it has for our new and incoming and current students." says Bell Helicopter Professor Matt Jackson

Each semester students in the mechanical engineering design class are divided into groups to work on special semester long projects.

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