Grant opens access to additive manufacturing technologies

Through a grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development, the Innovative Manufacturers’ Center partnered with Pennsylvania College of Technology to increase access to additive manufacturing among both educators and industry.

Additive manufacturing uses a 3-D printer, which builds an object from a computer-aided design by “printing” thin layers of plastic or other material on top of one another. Often used in industry to quickly prototype products or parts before putting them into production, as the process is refined, it has the potential to revolutionize manufacturing.

The focus has evolved from prototyping to impacting business in other ways, creating new opportunities for the dental and medical industries, entrepreneurs, biotech, architecture, construction, automotive, aerospace, engineering and many other fields.

Some are already testing the capabilities of 3-D printing with other materials: metals, fabrics and even food.

The grant provides $257,540 in funding to Workforce Development & Continuing Education at Penn College and $70,732 to the college’s Outreach for K-12 Office.

With its funding, Penn College will purchase two 3-D printers and a portable scanner that has the capability to scan an item and build a 3-D print. The first printer, a Stratasys ObJet 30 Pro, is expected to arrive on campus in a few weeks.

“This equipment will bring new opportunities to the college, both for students and employers. Employers will have a resource for the development of projects while also providing a hands-on opportunity for students to experience the latest technology,” said Shannon M. Munro, executive director of workforce development and continuing education.

The equipment provides WDCE with the ability to provide computer aided drafting and prototyping services to area employers and entrepreneurs. The equipment will also be used for student learning in the college’s manufacturing engineering technology and engineering design technology degree clusters.

The Outreach for K-12 Office is working with two area school districts to test how including 3-D printing in their classrooms could benefit student learning.

“Its value for K-12 students is to allow for creativity and innovative thinking,” said Jeannette F. Carter, director of Outreach for K-12. “Some people think state testing has driven students away from innovative thinking, so the idea that we could incorporate that into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concepts and allow students to play with this technology in a risk-free environment is significant.”

The Outreach for K-12 Office has also provided hands-on activities for middle school and high school students who visit the college for Career Days, provided a discussion on the topic during its College and Career Readiness event for K-12 educators and plans to incorporate the technology into its SMART Girls program.

SMART Girls provides hands-on activities on the Penn College campus to encourage girls to keep challenging themselves in math and science.

For more about Penn College, which is celebrating its centennial throughout 2014, visit www.pct.edu, email admissions@pct.edu or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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Last Updated May 08, 2014