Printing more than essays

The phrase “I printed a prosthetic leg for my dog,” isn’t something one hears on a daily basis.

Unless, that is, you’re Maynard Siev. Siev, a junior civil engineering major, used the power of 3D printing to create a new limb for a dog. Siev is currently the secretary for WSU’s new 3D printing club, The Printing Commonwealth.

The club began this semester when junior material science engineering major Charles Carver came up with the idea. Carver is currently the president of the group and said the organization is a project-based club that utilizes 3D printers and makes portfolios of projects.

A 3D printer works in different ways. Using modeling software, the printer translates the information into a familiar language and creates the object layer by layer or in a mold, Carver said.

“It’s a lot more involved than just 3D printing,” said club vice president Matthew Fagnan, a junior bioengineering major. “We started out just printing but turned into a lot more than that.”

Along with projects, club members learn how to use printers and even build them, Fagnan said. The hands-on learning experience is a major part of the club.

Freshman John Zender, who is studying mechanical engineering, said the organization is an opportunity to do research, working with other engineers in the department and the material sciences.

“Learning that much more research is a good experience … for undergrads especially,” Zender said.

Projects range based on members’ interests and what they have previously discussed. Some of the ideas include creating prosthetics for amputees, such as Siev’s goal in getting the club involved with the medical students.

Zender’s background is in making the printers. He said his goal is to improve printers for better resolution quality and use new types of materials for creating printer products.

“The strength of the materials aren’t practical for too many applications,” Siev said. “It’s a similar material to Legos.”

The Printing Commonwealth is open to all majors. Currently, the members include engineering majors and those working in design, Carver said. One of the requirements for membership is a willingness to learn the modeling program for the printers.

“The club might sound kind of a geeky, nerdy thing,” Siev said. “What’s interesting is that the possibilities of 3D printers has become infinite.”

The objects 3D printers are able to create aren’t just engineering based, Fagnan said. Everyone can give input on what they want to create.

 “You can make anything from this foot-by-foot box, and you get whatever you want out of it as long as you can think your way with it and design it,” Zender said.

The regular meeting schedule will be developed over the summer, and for more information, students can visit the club’s Facebook page Printing Commonwealth or email [email protected]