3D metal printer fuses creativity and manufacturing for high schoolers


A million dollar machine is taking high school classes to a new level.

A 3D titanium printer at Jemison and Grissom High Schools prints metal, from things like parts of a car to parts of a rocket. It’s the opportunity for students to build whatever they set their minds to.

“It just shows what you can do,” said junior Dillan Horton. “The only limit you have is the size of the plate that you’re building on. And of course the amount of material that you’ve got!”

A high-power laser inside melts powder together. The machinery has got kids thinking big and not just about what they can make.

“They’ve hired my students right out of high school,” said Matthew Basaraba, Jemison High School advanced manufacturing instructor.

It could lead them more easily into the workforce or higher education. Being trained in a cutting edge field means more options and a slight edge.

“Why aren’t more industries using metal?” asked Basaraba. “Because no one knows how to do it. So the more kids we get familiarized that are experts in it, the more that it can be introduced into industry and the bigger that it’ll grow.”

The ability to create is what’s got Horton hooked.

“It’s a very wonderful thing just to know that you can print out different parts for different pieces of machinery or anything really,” he said.

When creativity meets additive manufacturing the result could be a Rocket City labor force to take us further than the moon.

The program is through a partnership with Auburn. It’s the second year for it and last year Basaraba’s class made a bunch of mouth pieces for the band’s instruments. To buy just one of those is pretty expensive and they made close to 65.

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