3D Printing Continues to Capture Creativity

Photo by Lizzie Nimetz.

SUNY New Paltz’s new 3D printing technology continues to capture the attention of local business owners, entrepreneurs and designers alike.

According to Dean of the Science and Engineering department Dan Freedman, the advanced manufacturing center has attracted a “whole range of interesting clientele.” Freedman said the center has worked with about 50 different clients so far. He also said that the new machines allow students and faculty to work with higher-end materials, which opens up new doors for projects that previously would have been impossible.

Freedman detailed some of the interesting projects that students and faculty have undertaken using 3D printing and digital design. He cited a recent project that he and Katherine Wilson, a graduate student and assistant at MakerBot Innovation Center, completed over the winter vacation.

“We did some work for Progressive Insurance, 3D printing a bumper for an RV,” Freedman said. “It wasn’t that old an RV, and I was wondering why they couldn’t get parts, and [the company] said that a lot of RV manufacturers went out of business after 2008. It was a 2004 model, but it got hit in the right front quarter panel that you can’t find parts for it. So Kat Wilson modeled the bumper based on the one from the other side, and we 3D printed a replica of it. They’re going to use that as a mold to fiberglass over for the RV.”

Freedman said that the faculty involves science, engineering and design students as much as possible with these professional projects. He also described the program’s six current interns, who provide diverse perspectives and skill sets to these complex projects.

“Both on design and production, we have students involved,” Freedman said. “We have undergrads and graduate students. We have six interns right now; one graduate MFA student, three engineering students, one business student who does all of the business side of these operations and one student who is floating back and forth between art and biology and is now doing a contract major in digital design and fabrication. It’s a really wonderful group of interns.”

Freedman also described some of the new courses available in the second semester of the Digital Design and Fabrication program at New Paltz.

“There’s Crafting and Virtual Space II, which Kat Wilson is teaching, and then Intro to Mechatronics, which is being taught by an adjunct in the engineering department, Ken Bird,” Freedman said. “It’s going to be really neat.”

Most importantly, Freedman said, is the department’s goal with these new courses, new technologies and new programs.

“The program is beyond 3D design and printing,” Freedman said. “We’re trying to show how you can bring all of these disciplines together.”