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Students Create 3-D Objects in the Classroom (Image 1)

A student creates a 3-D object with a classroom 3-D printer

A middle-school student at the Next Generation School in Champaign, Ill., creates a 3-D object with a classroom 3-D printer. Students in grades K-12 can "print" 3-D objects from computer-generated sources right in the classroom! The rapid prototyping or 3-D lithography process. The process is based on a research project that was headed by Nicholas Fang, an assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering Lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and developed at the Center for Nanoscale Chemical-Electrical-Mechanical Manufacturing Systems (NanoCEMMS) at the university. NanoCemms is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center.

The process uses UV sensitive monomer to do a form of 3-D printing called microstereo lithography. The students use a video projector with a UV output to create incredibly thin polymer layers (on the order of 400 nanometers) and build objects layer by layer. The activity demonstrates the basic challenges of nanoscale engineering and mechanical.

The 3-D printing process has already been used by hundreds of students in Illinois at all grade levels to turn mathematical models into objects that they can touch and feel.

To learn more about this technology, see the Illinois news story "Seeing" Means Understanding.

Nano-CEMMS provides a wide range of human resource development activities targeted toward increasing both the diversity of students involved with the center and educational opportunities at the K-12 and undergraduate levels, as well as providing graduate students with teaching experience in an emerging field. To learn more about the center, visit the Nano-CEMMS website Here. [Research supported by NSF grant CMMI 07-49028, awarded to John Rogers.] (Date of Image: 2008-2010) [See related image Here.]

Credit: Joe Muskin, University of Illinois

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