January 12, 2015

To Young Inventors: “Don’t Give Up!”

Over 115 students, parents, and teachers gathered at UT Dallas last night to listen to Damon Printz talk about 3D printing and multicopters. Damon, who is a freshman at Texas A&M – College Station, likened 3D printers to a “fancy hot glue gun hooked to 3 motors.” He built his own 3D printer from a kickstart kit, and told students it took many hours of using it to work out the kinks.

Damon said that 3D printers are versatile and efficient because they can use a huge selection of materials, including plastics, nylon, metals, and even human cells. “And with 3D printing, there’s no waste,” he said. “You’re only using what is needed.”

063 (2)After giving students a brief history of 3D printing, Damon went on to compare 3D printing methods to traditional machining. For example, whereas machining is a subtractive process with a lot of waste, 3D printing is additive—you only add what you need. He also discussed some of its current uses, including medical (prosthetics, implants), manufacturing (housing–China is already doing it), and prototyping (idea to part in just a few hours).

Damon told students that 3D printers have become much more affordable than they were 10 years ago.  They used to sell for around $10,000 ten years ago; now you can buy one for just $1,000.

Damon concluded by expressing his belief that the 3D printing industry is poised for growth due to its efficient use of materials and wide material range

074 (2)Next, Damon gave a brief overview of multicopters and their use. Multicopters are currently used by the military, universities, film makers, and many other industries. He went on to say that multicopters have a wide variety of possibilities for the future, including transportation, sports, racing, photography, exploration, and recreation. Damon built his own quadcopter using his 3D printer.

When asked how he would advise students who are interested in being a “maker” like him, he replied, “Don’t give up. It took me many days, months, and years to fine tune my knowledge and expertise in using my 3D printer. Don’t give up!

Note: Here are the links to two of the websites Damon mentioned:

www.thingiverse.com

www.3dsystems.com

www.kickstarter.com