Student explains importance of 3D printing

by Jack Strawhorn, Staff Writer

The junior student watches as the melted plastic begins to take shape in the rectangular 3D printer. The plastic builds up slowly, a white model of a familiar face—as the machine stops, the hockey player and DECA club member plucks the Pikachu figurine, still warm from printing, and tosses it to a friend with a laugh. 

Beneath the outgoing personality is a person who has a passion for 3D printing. Kennedy first discovered 3D printers in eighth grade during his pre-engineering class. Kennedy said, “It wasn’t until I took some of my own time and really learned about 3D printing until I became fascinated by it.” 

The “magic” happens in the Pre-Engineering room. According to Kennedy, the pre-engineering room currently has two ultimakers, one makerbot, and a couple of smaller 3D printers. 

Kennedy does most of his printing after school during the week. As of now, Kennedy enjoys printing things for fun. Recently Kennedy and a couple of other students printed plastic Pokemon figurines. However, in the future Kennedy plans to print things that will impact the lives of others, such as prosthetic limbs.

Kennedy is currently in the process of founding the Enable club. With this club, Kennedy hopes to print objects such as prosthetic hands and provide them to those in need. Kennedy hopes to have the club up and running by the end of October, if all goes according to plan. 

The work put into making these creations is quite the opposite of easy. Kennedy said, “When I draw and edit the picture it takes around two hours. Then to print it, depending on the size, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to six hours.” 

Although hours of effort are needed to create an object the size of one’s hand, Kennedy said that he enjoys the whole process of creating something that can impact the lives of others.  

With all 3D printing can do, many problems occur. Kennedy explained that 3D printing is still in its juvenile stages and some of the little things are still getting worked out. However, with this said, Kennedy could not emphasize enough the potential that 3D printers have. Kennedy believes that 3D printers are going to be a machine in every household in our future. 

“If someone were to need a screw, instead of going to the store they would just use their 3D printer to create one,” he said.

Kennedy hopes to become a mechanical engineer.  He said that 3D printing technology can help mechanical engineers to create prototypes and products.

This past summer, Kennedy went on a two-week trip to Northeastern University where he studied mechanical engineering with other high school students from around the country.