New 3D Printer Elevates Science and Innovation Center

Thanks to a generous donation, the Cape Fear Academy Science and Innovation Center is now equipped with a Sinterit Lisa Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) Printer. The new printer added thanks to a donation from the Carlstedt Family Fund, and complements the five other 3D printers in the Science and Innovation Center that range from three different methods of printing.

The new SLS 3D printer uses powdered nylon to create objects students design using 3D modeling software. Inside the printer are two beds, a source bed for the powdered nylon and a print bed. The printer will lower the source bed so the correct amount of powder can be placed in the printer and a re-coater arm then pushes a thin layer of powder over the print bed. Once this is set up, the lid to the printer is closed and the print chamber is heated to 180 Celsius, just below the melting point of the powder. A laser then fires into the powder, fusing the powder together. The print bed is lowered, a new thin layer of powder is pushed over top of the print bed by the re-coater arm, and the process repeats itself over and over until the print is done.

Bill Kanzinger, Lower and Middle School technology teacher, said the main benefit to this type of printer is that students no longer need to worry about the effects of gravity on their designs since the unused powder supports the rest of the structure as it builds up onto itself.

The students are now free to create what they want,” Kanzinger said. “In the past students had to alter their prints to suit the printer, now we have a printer that can handle anything.

The new SLS printer will be used by both lower and middle school students, and will be open to use by upper school students and any other faculty members that want to incorporate 3D printing into their curriculum.

Having a printer of this caliber further sets the Science and Innovation Center apart with the opportunities available to CFA students.

“For students as young as fifth grade to be exposed to such an advanced printer is unique and something other students in Wilmington don’t have access to,” Kanzinger said. “When you include the other hardware and software CFA has in the Science and Innovation Center, there are very few schools that can match what are students have access to.”