TTU 3-D Printers Aiding in Research, Development

There's a new big trend in technology 3-D printing from architecture to art. Texas Tech is using that technology in departments all over campus.
By Michaela MacDonald

LUBBOCK, TX -- One of the biggest trends in technology right now is 3-D printing. Texas Tech is using that technology in departments all over campus.

"Students can use 3-D printing early on in the design process so they have an idea, they have a concept they can build as a model it can be a house, it can be a complex structure," said Christian Pongratz, Professor of Architecture at Texas Tech.

Pongratz says their department uses their three 3-D printers to give students a taste of real world architecture.

"Later on when our students go into practice, the technology by then will be so ubiquitous that the client will probably ask can you 3-D print me quickly a model what it looks like so I can understand what you want to do. So its kind of introducing students to those processes and latest technologies," he said.

Pongratz says this model will be built as an apartment complex in Lubbock. These are some 3-D projects made by students.

"The idea was lets do architectural components with small models that we can print fairly quickly but they are also resistant they are durable they are strong," said Pongratz.

The college of architecture's 3-D printers are not the only ones on campus. The art department has some and so does the library.

"Here in the library it was a curiosity we like we were saying this is a research lab,  if people want to experiment with it and see what they can do we want to provide that for them, but we didn't want to get a whole lot of them without first testing," said 3D Lab Administrator Kevin Jones.

Jones says they are testing out this consumer grade printer by making chess pieces. This printer retails for about $1200. *The printer at the library is strictly for private research.

"There's a lot of interest in 3-D printing right now so we got just a low end one just to see what they could do really," said Jones.

Pongratz says the next step for 3-D printers in the architecture industry is mobile robotic arms that can "print homes" on construction sites.

"That is something that I think right now is maybe in emerging stages, but can be certainly future. 3-D printing can revolutionize completely how we build houses and how we construct in architecture," said Pongratz.
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