New Castle News

September 19, 2013

Speakers: 3-D printing evolves in manufacturing

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The manufacturing world is going 3-D.

To demonstrate this, party favors were distributed at the Lawrence County Economic Development Corp.’s annual dinner, manufactured on site from 3-D printers for attendees to see, then take home on their key chains.

Technicians sat at 3-dimensional computers and, using polymer wire that melted into computer-formed moldings, processed about 100 personalized key rings with initials of those attending the event at the New Castle Country Club.

The evening’s message — delivered by two keynote speakers — was that the world is changing and do-it-yourself manufacturing, from design to finished product, can be done in much smaller spaces, even at home or in a garage.

The world now needs to become educated about this new technology, which — according to Penn State University professor Dr. Irene J. Petrick — is here now.

The key rings were products that demonstrated how quickly something can be designed and produced.

John Scott, president of Applied Systems and Technology Transfer, held up a prototype he had made of a plastic coffee cup holder that fits in his car. His personal cup fits into the holder, and he designed it using 3-D imaging on a computer screen, then created it with a 3-D printer.

Scott emphasized the importance of people, even at grade-school age, learning the technology.

“Our education system hasn’t changed much through the years but we live in a technology world.”

His company is contracting schools to get 3-D technology called InventorCloud into the classrooms, he said. So far its pilot program has reached into 15 schools in Ohio.

“Classrooms today are still about knowledge transfer and not skills transfer,” he said. “We have to change that.”

He cited an example of teaching a student about the heart by creating a 3-D model, so he or she can see all the parts and components.

“Compare that to how we would have taught about that before.”

Responding to a question about affordability of his company’s classroom lessons, Scott commented it costs school districts only $7,500 a year.

“If they don’t have it, they just don’t have that as a priority,” he commented, adding, “If a football team needed new helmets, I’ll bet you there would be $7,500 to buy them.”

Petrick’s message was that 3-D printing is available now.

“There will be competition from directions you don’t expect,” she said, and it eventually will make large-scale manufacturing obsolete.

Petrick is managing director of TrendScape Innovation Group and is actively involved with Fortune 100 companies, the military and smaller enterprises in their innovation and technology strategies. She has a background in technology planning, management and product development.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)