One of the printers in Jim Roscoe's tech classroom goes far beyond serving up tests and handouts.
The Coffman High School teacher, with the help of students, built a 3D printer last spring and is now turning out plastic items that can be used in a number of scenarios.
Roscoe takes an understated approach when discussing the building of the machine that melts plastic from a spool to make 3D items.
"All the information for this is open source," he said. "The parts for the machine were made on a machine just like this. Now we can make another one."
The electronics and machines for the printer had to be purchased, but Roscoe said about $600 went into the machine that usually sells starting at $1,500.
The printer took about a month to put together, then some time to calibrate the machine, Roscoe said.
"It got much better quickly," he said.
The machine has been used to make parts for the Dublin FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team that Roscoe coaches, but has other applications around the school, he said.
"We're going to partner with the school store to make things," Roscoe said, showing off small Coffman Rocks plastic figurines. "I have a product design class that will work on that."
Not many people around Coffman High School know about the new 3D printer, Roscoe said, because it was calibrated near the end of the school year. But now that students are finding out, they're thinking up many uses.
"How to implement it has been part of class for students," he said. "The more they use it, the more students see potential in it. We print something every day."
Senior Joe Cassidy said the machine could be used to print a part for a broken dishwasher. All that's needed is a 3D rendering of the part for the printer.
"We can make any custom part," he said.
Plastic for the machine isn't too expensive, so the printer is economical, Roscoe said.
"This will have applications in math, science and physics," he said. "There are shapes you can make with it that you really can't make in another way. You'd have to make it with two pieces. You can make very complicated shapes."
Along with applications around Coffman High School, the 3D printer can also help other schools in the district, he said.
"Now we have the capability to print parts on this," Roscoe said. "We can use this to spread (3D printing) to other schools. This technology is used by the highest-end engineering."