Third-dimension technology

By Ken Esten Cooke— Last week’s story on the use of a 3D printer by students in the Fredericksburg High School science program is further evidence that the school district continues to look ahead and prepare students for the world after graduation.

Using a 3D Machining Printer, students have crafted simple objects in red plastic, from a key ring to a trumpet mouthpiece. Exposure to this potentially world-changing technology will let students in the Fredericksburg Independent School District have the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of industry as they enter college and the workforce beyond.

Once a design is entered into a computer-aided design software program, the printer processes the information and “prints” a 3D object, layer upon layer, similar to normal printers laying down one layer of ink on printed documents. The result is a solid object made of plastic.

Some of the publicity surrounding 3D printing has been negative, focusing only on what “could be made,” by those with ill intentions, such as guns that can’t be detected by normal metal-detecting methods.

But technology has unlimited potential. Students at FHS already are working on “printing” rocket parts for its aero-science program. Other manufacturing uses already in use include making final moulds for automobiles, jewelry, toys, packaging and plastic items. Similar manufacturing techniques are using metals for custom digital manufacturing projects.

There is even biological experimentation on using this type of technology to create organs from healthy tissues. It blows the mind to think of all the potential possibilities where this technology could apply.

Kudos to the FISD for continuing to look ahead and preparing our students with the technology of the future.

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