ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Albany Technical College announced its addition of a 3D metal printer to its Engineering Graphics program.
Edrian Mallory, the engineering graphics chair and instructor, said the addition will help students keep up with the ever-changing industry and give them the ability to work with technology that makes more precise prototypes.
“Typically we’re working with plastic and a little bit with compressed powder, so adding in the printer allows us to take some of those plastic parts that we’ve done before and reinforce them to function a little better,” explained Mallory.
Mallory said that with COVID-19 measures being taken she has only had a few students see it.
“Everybody has that initial shock effect like, ‘What? We’re working with, huh?’ So I just explain to them we have all of these other options now that we’re adding metal,” said Mallory.
She said luckily, next semester she will have more students on campus getting more hands-on opportunities.
The printing process consists of three steps.
First, you design the model on a computer and send it to the printer. Next, you put the piece in the debinder, which cleans it and prepares it for step three. Finally, you put it into something Mallory explained to be like a dutch oven, which hardens the metal piece.
“It could take one to two days depending on what we’re working on. It’s not a fast process like some of the 3D printers are, it does take time, but it still gives us a good prototype,” said Mallory.
For this reason, Mallory said this machine is more for prototype creations and not mass productions.
Mallory said the new machine allows you to actually see where you went wrong.
“It’s one thing for it to be on a computer and it’s another to actually feel it and see where you went wrong or see if you need to make changes,” said Mallory.
Mallory said she hopes this new addition to the program encourages students to tap into their potential and see what they can create.