AgCenter on cutting edge of printer technology

Published 11:12 am Thursday, August 28, 2014

Through the “magic” of three-dimensional printing technology, before you know it, an ordinary piece of plastic turns can be turned into a coffee cup or any of a variety of objects.

The LSU Ag Center/Washington Parish Extension Office on Bene Street in Franklinton recently acquired a Cube 3-D printer that has the ability to create three-dimensional objects.

“There are endless things to choose from that people can do. The 3-D printer is a type of industrial robot that tales an electronic data source, links it into the printer, which creates a three-dimensional object of almost any shape by laying down successive layers of material under a computer control,” Associate Extension Agent Lacey Keating said in a recent interview. “This is an awesome technology that many individuals have not been exposed to, but it is here in Washington Parish ready for public use.”

Extension Office student workers Allison Strahan and Kaleb Danos were at the controls of the printer printing out a teacup Monday. Strahan said the teacup took 3 1/2 hours to print.

“It’s just awesome,” Strahan said. “You sit here, and it does it layer by layer. You leave and come back in five minutes, and it’s done a centimeter or two.”

Danos said teacups, chess pieces and napkin holders are basic models on the printer’s flash drive.

“It has the ability to make anything from a phone case to models to use in a classroom, like bones” Danos said. “And it even makes little interchangeable parts.”

The technology is funded through the Connect My Louisiana Program.

The small 3-D printer is situated in a corner of the office and weighs approximately 5 pounds.

“It is very compact,” Danos said.

Strahan said it is easy to operate.

“You can also hook it wirelessly so you don’t have to be connected to a cord,” Strahan said. “It has its own WiFi. “

Strahan demonstrated how the printer worked.

“All you do is take the flat piece off, use the cube stick so the plastic doesn’t melt. When it prints, the robotic arm pushes the print pad up to meet the printer jet. The glass (print pad) raises up to meet the print jet where the plastic filament comes out. The print pad reaches up, and it reads the program off a flash drive. It’s just amazing.”