The Community Corps, NPower’s skills-based volunteering program recently partnered with 3D Heights, a digital print shop located in Manhattan’s Washington Heights to give New York City public high school students real-world experience with 3D printing and its countless applications. Using digital technology to create three dimensional solid objects from a digital model, 3D printing is poised to transform manufacturing as we know it today because of its lower costs, lower risks and greater efficiency than traditional manufacturing.
This technology is already being utilized in a variety of fields and industries including industrial design, architecture, engineering and construction (AEC), agriculture, aerospace, dentistry and medicine but the true potential of 3D printing is still being uncovered. Medical facilities around the world have already adopted 3D printing in the creation of prosthetic limbs and disability equipment for patients while experimentation has begun on synthesizing functional replacement organs for transplanting.
Students from the Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction, the Bronx Academy of Software Engineering and the NYC Lab High School for Collaborative Studies spent several hours at 3D Heights getting hands-on practice using the different printing equipment. The students were divided into small teams allowing each to experience a web based interface with Tynker CAD. They spent pleasurable moments using a handheld 3D scanner to create digital self- portraits for subsequent 3D printing. The students became enthralled by the wonders of seeing solid objects like a key chain and toy alien printed in real time.
Founder and proprietor of 3D Heights, New York native Jerry Castanos captivated the students’ attention as he described his journey from military service to being an entrepreneur. During his interaction with the students, Jerry spoke of the various business ventures in which he engaged while overseas, some of which were not successful. Rather than cautioning the students to be careful about taking business risks, Jerry encouraged them not to be afraid of failure, but to use the vast information and technology available to them to explore innovative ideas. At the end of the talk, the students commented that they were very grateful for the information they obtained from Jerry and that it made them feel good that he did not undermine their intellectual capacity by “talking down” to them, but related to them respectfully throughout the entire interaction.