Salisbury University's 3D Innovation Lab is a place where your imagination can take physical form and become a reality.
Whether it be for a business prototype or for your own personal amusement, the 3D lab allows you to bring any number of ideas to fruition.
Any SU student, faculty or staff member may use the 3D printers for free once they have completed a short training session.
Once they have completed the session, students and staff are required to fill out a form consisting of a brief description of their vision. Following the completion of the form, one is then sent email updates on the estimated time of production and the project's progress.
All you really need is an idea, and SU workers like the 3D Lab Lead Innovation Consultant Bradley Kunzman and Entrepreneurship Consultant Graduate Assistant Jenna Drewer are tasked with making your vision a reality.
Kunzman, an SU senior with previous experience working for a 3D printing company, has done prototypes for SpaceX and GE Autos. Kunzman described the company as having up to 20 industrial-quality printers costing up to half a million per printer.
Drewer is a graduate student who previously partnered with a student from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and competed in SU's annual Entrepreneurship Student Competition. Their idea was photo-electric safety cones that would alert someone within a certain radius with sensors attached to the cone, being beneficial to demolition and salvage crews and for chemical spills.
This idea advanced them to the second round and placed them in the top fifteen in the competition. Drewer plans to compete in an upcoming competition this year with another new and innovative idea.
Professor and Director of Innovation Lab Gene Hahn insisted on students using the free service for any business ideas or creative projects.
"Workers like Brad and other consultants are here to help people realize their ideas and make them tangible," Hahn said.
After being shown the 3D printers in the innovation lab, I got to witness the construction of some doorstops for the classrooms upstairs.
In describing the process at hand, Kunzman said, “It is like a hot glue gun that is used to melt and mold plastics into specific parts of a piece.”
The printers use plastic, synthetic wood-plastic hybrids and a metal-plastic material for demonstrations or prototypes. Anyone can use the innovation lab with unlimited uses.
In the spirit of Halloween and the new "Joker" film, one of my prints consisted of a zombie Joker mask.
After processing the order through the lead innovation consultant, there turned out to be five total pieces. One piece took 21 hours to print and the other took 15 hours, and that is only two of the five pieces.
It took about a week to fully print and glue together the pieces of the mask. For a free mask, the product was what I expected it to look like from the picture, but not the feeling of it. The mask’s material is very thick and robust, giving it a sturdy feeling.
The indents in the face of the mask were made with a great amount of detail and would provide a painter with the perfect zombie canvas for the mind to explore. The process has been known to take long periods of time while printing with very precise detail, measuring to the tenth of a degree per measurement to construct a perfect virtualization of your product, as seen with the Joker mask and the Master Chief desk toy.
Many entrepreneurs in the Perdue School of Business have used the 3D printers for their prototypes and pitches. SU Graduate of 2019 Collin Moshedi used the printer to his advantage for his product the Fog Farmer.
Fog farming consists of dangling the roots of a plant using aeroponics technology to create plants using 90% less water, decreasing time span of growth and increasing yields.
Moshedi felt the Innovation Lab was extremely beneficial in aiding to his success.
“The ability to transform my digital designs into physical parts so quickly and cheaply proved invaluable to the development of my product," Moshedi said. "The Innovation Lab has the potential to make a national impact on our economy, and SU would be wise to invest further into the project.”
Another SU student, Imani Hassel, used the printers to pitch his new kind of toilet bowl cleaner called The Loo.
If you are interested in learning more about the precise ins and outs of the 3D printing world, sign up for the Info 333 class.
Drewer said that “students start by making business card holders and ended with printing their own 3D products for their business idea.”
If you have any interest in using the many resources of the innovation lab, stop by Perdue Hall Room 132 for a free 3D-printed souvenir courtesy of the innovation lab.
By JACK FIECHTNER
Featured photos by Jack Fiechtner Images and Brendan Link Images.