The SUNY New Paltz 3D printing initiative recently received an $850,000 state grant to expand its ever-growing presence on campus. This funding, allocated by New York State Sen. John Bonacic on Sept. 4, is planned to cover the cost of construction for a new 3D printing laboratory, according to SUNY New Paltz Community & Government Relations Associate Richard Winters.
“Our advocacy and the strong support of Sen. Bonacic resulted in funding to support critical infrastructure and facilities upgrades at New Paltz,” Winters said. “The [funding] provides a much-needed upgrade as our 3D printing initiative continues to grow with great student and faculty interest, and regional business and industry involvement.”
This new expansion to the program will provide space for the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center and the MakerBot Innovation Center to collaborate on campus, Dan Freedman, the dean of school of science and engineering and director of the manufacturing center, said.
“Both operations have grown very fast and are currently sharing a small amount of space that was already being used for other purposes,” he said. “We will be able to build out space that will be designed for 3D design, printing and fabrication [and] operate much more efficiently because we will combine our different printers in one area, in addition to the design and post-processing tools.”
Freedman said he hopes to have the new space ready sometime next year.
The Manufacturing Center on campus offers a variety of technologies that can manufacture plastic, three-dimensional objects, layer-by-layer using computer-aided design software, according to its website. In turn, this can be used to create a virtually endless plethora of printed items such as toys, medical implants and prosthetics, all of which have proved to make palpable impact on the Hudson Valley.
This July, the college’s 3D printing laboratory was credited to the creation of a prosthetic “robo-hand” for six-year-old Joseph Gilbert of Chester, New York, who was born without fingers on his left hand. The overall cost of materials for the project was only $15, and with the flex of his wrist, Gillbert was at the helm of a fully functioning hand.
Earlier this summer, another prosthetic appendage was created at the Manufacturing Center, but for an animal counterpart. Felix, a rescue sheep who now resides in Woodstock, New York, was in need of a prosthetic leg, which was produced for him at the center as well. According to a press release about the project, Felix will now be able to live a long, healthy life without spine complications due to equally balanced weight on all four legs instead of just three.
When he announced the funding for the program, Bonacic credited New Paltz as the perfect location to expand on the 3D printing industry.
“I am especially pleased to have been able to secure this state funding for SUNY New Paltz,” Bonacic said. “The college has earned national recognition for its return on investment [and I] cannot think of any other educational institution in the Hudson Valley better positioned for this high-tech initiative.”
Looking forward, SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian considers this addition to the 3D printing program as one step closer to better serving both the college’s educational platform and the Hudson Valley’s entrepreneurial market.
“[The] printing initiative positions the College as the premier regional hub in the Hudson Valley for manufacturing and educational use of this burgeoning technology,” he said. “The initiative of projects we undertake and the inquiries from regional business and industry grow virtually daily. We are grateful for Senator Bonacic’s strong advocacy in helping to secure [funding] for much-needed space for this initiative.”