New 3D printer helping NKU students studying art, engineering - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

NKU testing new 3D printer

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HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, KY (FOX19) -

Northern Kentucky University has a new piece of technology that will help students studying art as well as engineering. A new 3D printer is revolutionizing the way objects are created.

NKU's Tech Bar manager Wayde Shanks says the printer's applications are only limited by the users imagination.

"If you can design it. It can print it," said Shanks.

He says the 3D printer can help students in a variety of fields.

"Hopefully it will allow students to create some interesting art work. Any student that's in our Pre-Engineering program can use it to test their designs, and biology students or chemistry students can use it to investigate body organs, parts, things like that... Molecules for chemistry," he explained.

Shanks says designs are created using a special software, and the printer makes the object using a plastic filament that looks a lot like the filament on a weed eater.

"The filament is pulled up through the back of the machine and heated through these extruders, and as the filament melts it just gradually builds on itself."

Small objects like a nut and bolt take about 30 minutes, while larger objects like a life-sized fist take about six hours. The 3D printer can make the process of designing objects a lot more efficient.

"With 3D printing on a much, much cheaper scale, you're able to create a particular design and determine whether or not it will be functional or would suit your needs without a major investment."

The printer is now in its testing phase, but it's hoped that by the fall, they'll have a good idea of what works and what doesn't.

A 3D printer was used recently to create an artificial foot for a duck in Arlington, Tennessee named 'Buttercup', whose real foot had to be amputated.

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