PHONE: 627-4521

DATE: 08-23-04


New Dimension 3-D Printer Gives HCC Engineering and Machining

Students an Edge on Design

Haywood Community College recently installed a Dimension 3-D Printer at the Regional High Technology Center which will allow students to produce plastic prototypes of design projects. Through a process known as rapid processing, a three-dimensional part can be created in ABS plastic in as little as 1-8 hours. According to Tim Haynes, HCC Chair, Engineering and Information Technology and Industrial Outreach Director, the process allows students to rapidly bridge the gap between idea and design.

The whole process begins with a student producing a drawing for a part using 3-D software or CAD. Traditionally the drawing would then be transposed into machining code and a machinist would create the part. If modifications needed to be made to the design, the whole process would have to be repeated. Therefore getting an approved part ready for production using the old method could be a lengthy process sometimes taking months. By utilizing the 3-D printer, a person can access the part in a shorter time period, make modifications and have a completed part much quicker.

Modification is key in making rapid changes to a design. By using a composite of several parts a student can make a model of a product. The only limit is the printing area of the machine itself. The machine is capable of making complex parts that cannot be made traditionally.

This semester, students in drafting and design classes in Electronic Engineering Technology and Manufacturing Engineering Technology are using the machine. Students produced parts to hold mirrors in a student-built laser display system. This was the first student project to utilize the printer. In the near future the 3-D printer will also be available to Machining Technology students.

"Use of the 3-D printer allows freshmen students to visualize the part they are trying to make. Sometimes the hardest thing for a new student is learning how to think in 3-D. Most people visualize in 2-D. This will help students overcome this obstacle by giving them something tangible to see and hold," said Haynes. "Students will be able to evaluate designs, test functionality and most importantly, add to their design portfolios. This machine is a valuable tool that will help engineering and machining students gain a critical area of expertise and powerful, real-world experience."

HCC is one of only two community colleges in the state that has this high tech equipment available to students. Use of the Dimension 3-D printer will also be available to area businesses through a partnership with HCC.

For more information about Engineering and Machining Technology programs available at Haywood Community College, please call Student Services at 828-627-4500 or visit www.haywood.edu on the Internet.

Photo Attached:

Cutline: Tim Haynes, HCC Regional High Technology Center, holds two parts that were made using the recently acquired Dimension 3-D printer. The printer creates three-dimensional prototypes from plastic.