3-D Printing Goes to the Next Level

Posted by on September 16, 2013 in Campus Life, Students | 0 comments

I am a nerd at heart. Or is it a geek? I fall somewhere on the spectrum according to this graphic, but in any case…

When I was given the opportunity to be one of the first people to see The Learning Factory’s newest 3-D printer, the Stratasys Objet 260 Connex, I jumped at the chance.

I was not disappointed. Bill Genet, Learning Factory Supervisor, gave me an overview of the machine that was nothing short of WOW!

We all know that 3-D printing is cool and cutting edge. I’m here to tell you that printing with the Objet 260 Connex is even cooler because it brings together different compounds – some rigid and some flexible – to create intricate prototypes, which engineering students can use when working on class projects. When I was an undergraduate student here, I was happy when we switched from 5 ¼” floppy disks to 3 ½” floppies so to see that Penn State students have access to leading edge technology such as this 3-D printer (or rapid prototype machine), is pretty amazing.

Bill explained that students create the pieces they need in a typical computer-aided design program and then the rendering is translated, so to speak, by the printer’s software to take the needed part from concept to reality.

He showed me some things that he and his staff have created with the new machine, including this very cool piece with intricate gears that move seamlessly (check out the video of this piece made by the Stratasys Object 260 Connex) and a hinged sample that integrates all types of motion, materials and flexibility, which was built, layer by layer, as one piece with the new printer.

It’s the first printer of its kind at Penn State University Park. The purchase of this 3-D printer was made possible through the Richard and Marion Leonhard Endowment to Support Entrepreneurship and Manufacturing, with contributions from the Naren and Judith Gursahaney Excellence Fund in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, the industrial and manufacturing engineering department and the Applied Research Laboratory.

To see a really cool video of the Objet 260 Connex in use, check out this YouTube video.



Dana Marsh, director of marketing and communications for the College of Engineering, freely admits that she’s not an engineer but is fascinated by how the work of engineers impacts every aspect of a human’s day-to-day existence: from the houses we live in and the roads we drive on, to the smartphones and computers we rely upon. She’s now made it her mission to educate non-engineers about the real-world applications of leading-edge engineering initiatives. 

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