Their work is part of the curriculum at the school's technology department, which recently received statewide recognition for teaching the students college-level design skills. Five students from
The students took examples of their 3-D printing projects and computer animation to show other educators in the commonwealth the potential for teaching professional-level skills to high school students. Although their display was low-tech -- the original models placed side-by-side with their reproductions, plus some pictures on poster board and a laptop showing the drafting files -- the students drew a crowd of educators excited by the possibilities for their own classwork.
"A lot of people were blown away at what we were doing," Nocella said.
The increased availability of 3-D printing -- and decreasing cost of the machines needed to carry it out -- has made the nearly 30-year-old technology a hot trend in manufacturing. Using complex computer programs, a 3-D printer can lay 0.01-inch thick layers of a wide range of materials together to create a working part, prototype or model in a matter of hours. Producing a similar result with traditional machining methods would take longer and cost more money, Nocella said.
The 3-D printer in Nocella's classroom uses a special kind of plastic that becomes pliable at high temperatures, but other machines can use metal alloys, plaster or ceramic powders.
The plastic reproductions Nocella's students took to
The students all started with basic geometric shapes in
The software and process being used in class are the same ones being used in colleges and companies across America, giving
For Murphy, who signed up for his first drafting class last fall and was trying to fill a hole in his schedule after dropping a photography elective, having these skills is helping him narrow his college choice.
"I was brand new to using this equipment," he said.
"I'm still looking at an engineering field, but this has definitely broadened my possibilities."
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