Demonstration of 3-D printer technology amazes attendees

Last updated: August 07. 2013 9:18AM - 2376 Views
By Ralph Davis

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PIKEVILLE — About two dozen people caught a glimpse of the future Monday night, during an i2b Forum on 3-D printing at the University of Pikeville Community Technology Center in the Pikeville Public Library.

The printing method — which is actually a method of fabricating objects out of plastics, metals and other materials, based on computer designs — is being hailed as a revolutionary technology that has the potential to overhaul many aspects of manufacturing and the economy.

Twyman Clements, a space systems engineer out of the Lexington-based Kentucky Space LLC, lectured those in attendance about the technology. He noted that applications of the technology have ranged from the mundane, such as crafting iPhone cases and action figures, to the surreal, such as beaming pizza into space or combining the technology with 3-D scanning to “print” human tissue to exact specification to aid in the treatment of soldiers injured on the battlefield.

The event was coordinated by Morehead State University’s Innovation and Commercialization Center and the Young Professionals of East Kentucky. Johnathan Gay, who serves as director of both groups, said Monday’s presentation was a good way for local business professionals to see and imagine the possibilities offered by 3-D printing.

“We think it’s important for more people to see what is possible in terms of technology,” Gay said. “Only by seeing it and touching it can you really understand it — and it’s pretty awesome.”

Those in attendance appeared suitably impressed. Following Clements half-hour lecture, he fielded about an hour’s worth of questions.

During the presentation, the printer busily whizzed and whirred its way to creating bolts, gears and fasteners, which could later be assembled. After the presentation, the audience swarmed the machine to get a closer look at to take pictures and videos of it at work.

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