UNI hosts 3D printing camp for kids

The University of Northern Iowa’s Additive Manufacturing Center, located at TechWorks (Waterloo, Iowa) hosted a three-day camp for Cedar Valley students interested in STEM.

Focusing on a “Jurassic Park” dinosaur theme, Panther Park 3D was one of many camps offered by the STEM program at UNI and granted students the opportunity to broaden and develop their STEM interests and skills with an immersive 3D printing and design experience involving dinosaurs.

After receiving a tour and gaining a basic understanding of the center’s main 3D printers, kids at the camp engaged in activities throughout the metalcasting process. With help from staff members, students began by customizing and designing their own dinosaur fossil molds using 3D design computer software. Once finished, designs were saved and each was sent to a sand printer, where the students watched their virtual creations come to life. When printing was complete, the kids were shown how to properly excavate the printer to extract their 3D molds.

In a news release, UNI said “students began to notice similarities between excavating the printer and actual fossil excavation as they dug up and cleaned their parts with brushes.”

Concluding the process, campers poured metal into their printed molds to take home when finished.

Students also received firsthand experience with several other 3D printers and equipment in the AMC and were able to compare and contrast each of them. Students gained knowledge in robotic sand milling, fused filament fabrication, digital light processing and wax printing. In addition, they were exposed to virtual reality applications and scanning objects with a Romer absolute arm laser scanner.      

To end the week, students prepared PowerPoint presentations to show their parents their favorite parts of the camp and what they had learned.