Return to Headlines

Students Venture into the 3D World

February 2nd, 2016

Students in Jim Grant’s 3D Research and Development class go through a range of emotions.

First they feel excited, then challenged, then slightly overwhelmed, then determined, then accomplished, with the last emotion the one that sticks.

“In 3DRD, I hope to set the students loose creatively,” Grant said.

Grant’s class was established last year as a way to get the students’ minds wrapped around the idea of the full effort it takes to create a product or idea, from beginning to end. Once students are introduced to the 3D printing machine in the classroom, they are given a design challenge to create, invent or recreate a product or item that would be used in one of the world’s many industries, and see the process through from an idea to design and finally through production.

“I give them the project and then turn them loose,” Grant said. “They have many questions, especially through the design process, and I guide them through that process by asking questions and critiquing their design just as any firm would.”

According to Grant, the toughest and most overwhelming part for students is coming up with and designing an idea or concept. Students are set free to let their minds go where they want, and that is both a challenging and rewarding process.

Once the design process is finished, students must build the item or product using the Tinkercad software that is compatible with Dremel 3D Printers. Student designs included a Dunk and Munch, made to properly dunk an Oreo cookie in milk without getting fingers wet, a gear prosthetic, a Water Chip Filter, designed to filter water easily for countries without regular access to clean water, and a Pringles Pusher, made to dispense all Pringles out of their can in one attempt, leaving them looking much like a popsicle.

The students were then scheduled to present their inventions to the public and their parents at the Arlington Heights Library.

“Why not build something that I would usually collect,” Thomas student, Alex Cho said during his presentation of WWII Model Tanks. “I figured it was much easier and cheaper to print something than buying different models at the store.”

Cho had an idea for a company that would print models such as his WWII tanks and sell them at much cheaper prices than competitors.

The entire experience of the class can be summed up by one student, who walked up to Grant as the presentations were finished, and said, “Mr. Grant, I just wanted to thank you for this class.”

That student created a mold of his own teeth using 3D printing, something that can be used in the dentistry field to make retainers in a more cost effective manner down the road.

Adam Harris