3-D printing a ‘revolution:’ STEM Outreach

By Brennan Schneider

A 14-year-old boy at a science fair used 3-D printing to make a prosthetic limb for a girl after he learned her parents had paid $80,000 for one.

Federico Sciammarella, an associate professor of mechanical engineering speaking at Tuesday’s 3-D Printing Revolution event, said the boy had an idea and used his knowledge of 3-D printing to make it happen. The event was also held to increase STEM literacy in the community.

3-D printing is a process in which a device will print off a 3-D object that comes from a digital file. The computer cuts the file into 2-D slices and scans and fuses the slices until it creates a finished product in 3-D.

Sciammarella said 3-D printing is part of a “revolution.”

“It is just a new way of doing things,” Sciammarella said. “You can add a lot of new features that would be practically impossible to make in a traditional way. It is just exciting to find a new way to help people.”

During Sciammarella’s presentation, he said 3-D printing is being used in cellphones, orbit printing, implants, prosthetics and dental implants that allows the skin to grow over them. The printing method is “something that could potentially liberate us all,” he said.

STEM Outreach associate Judith Dymond hosted the event and said it is exciting to know 3-D printing is being looked into by many disciplines.

“Young people today are more willing to share information,” Dymond said. “I think that is going to be so important for the future because we are going to learn things so much faster. That was why the young boy was able to see the young girl and put something together because of the information that was shared with him.”

Sciammarella said he enjoys 3-D printing because it is challenging because it isn’t easy compared to metal printing and trying to makeg it easy for everyone is exciting for him.

STEM Outreach associate Pettee Guerrero showed off a 3-D printer from the Society of Women Engineers during the event. She showed figures that were made by the printer.

“3-D printing lets you use your creativity,” Guerrero said. “You can open your mind and design anything. You could print yourself.”