Using 3D Printer To Create Theater Props And More

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Dimensional viewing of a molecular structure, biological structures, topography, artwork, theater props… these are all things that are easier to imagine and manipulate in a three-dimensional, tangible fashion. Purchasing these items can be costly, but very useful in the classroom. Pat Immel, an associate professor in the Theater department at Northwest Missouri State University, is using 3D printer technology to help with this in his department.

Mr. Immel has always been intrigued by new technology. In October 2015, the Theater department purchased a 3D printer. While they are still exploring the vast uses of this technology, they have created some props (a replica handgun, a couple of small specialized cups, and a funny reindeer headpiece). The Advanced Drafting students will also begin working on their final projects soon, and they will use the 3D printer to print their final projects. One student has created a “Lord of the Rings” inspired table lamp.

3D printing has been around for roughly thirty years, but the cost barriers are beginning to diminish for this technology. While the price of the 3D printers varies widely, the process is rather uniform. A 3D design can be created with software packaged with the printer, or a 3D scanner can be used. Once the design is prepared, the printer “prints” with a modeling material (usually a plastic poly blend). The printing is completed by layering the material to the specifications of the design. While this process can take days to complete, it has emerged has a more efficient method than previous “prototype” methods of construction.

Mr. Pat Immel is an associate professor in the Theater department. If you are interested in learning more about how Mr. Immel uses his 3D printer to enhance his courses and productions, please feel free to contact him at pimmel@nwmissouri.edu or x-1171 or the Learning & Teaching Center powered by CITE at LTCITE@nwmissouri.edu or x-1532.