The Road to a 3-D Printer: Part One
Fly fishing, car repair, maybe some pickup basketball? Those may be some of the things that come to mind when you think of father-son activities, but KGI student Andrew Barajas, MBS'14, and his dad Victor like to spend their father-son bonding time refining their knowledge and skill of 3-D printing. Victor, an electrical engineer, has always done projects at home involving robotics, electronics, you name it. So when he had the opportunity to purchase a hobbyist 3-D printer, he couldn't refuse.
"Using the software to design a model of what you want to print is actually the 'easier' part. It takes a while to get the hang of the actual printing, to learn what materials to use to get the end product you're looking for," Andrew explains. "It's still a fairly new frontier and there's a lot of trial and error involved."
In fact, Andrew learned to use the software SolidWorks for 3-D printing in Dr. Angelika Niemz's Medical Diagnostics course. The class, which includes a section on SolidWorks taught by Dr. Anna Hickerson, provides an overview of the in vitro diagnostics industry. Students in the class design their own medical device, and amongst KGI students the interest in 3-D printing for this purpose and just in general is "huge," Andrew notes. This interest led to dad Victor bringing his 3-D printer to KGI for a campus-wide demonstration.
"People were very excited," Andrew says. "There is a lot of talk about how 3-D printing can be used in classes here at KGI, and how we could create an open community for 3-D printing. There are so many potential uses in the medical device sector and in biotech in general that it's very relevant to what's going on at KGI."
In fact, the Barajas's current father-son 3-D project is cell printing, which could ultimately be used to print tissue and even organs. "It's not a reality yet but it's probably closer than you think," says Andrew, who has a B.S. in engineering and biology from Cal Poly Pomona and whose ultimate goal is to start an engineering consulting firm that helps companies or individual entrepreneurs take their biotech products to market.