The Road to a 3D Printer: Part II
The term "life sciences" covers a lot of ground, and KGI students have very diverse interests within the sector-regulatory, medical devices, marketing. The list goes on. But one thing most seem to agree is that 3D printing is on the brink of revolutionizing the biotech industry (and many others, in fact).
"It's hard to imagine the almost limitless potential of 3D printing technology when it comes to affecting the way things will be made in the future," says second-year MBS student Thomas Luu. "Organovo (a San Diego startup) has already built models of human kidneys and lung tissue using 3D printing. The ability to make anything you want, from iPhone cases to car parts to medical devices, makes this the consumer commodity of the future."
So focused is their interest that several months ago KGI students formed a 3D printing club with the immediate goal of raising money to purchase a 3D printer accessible to the entire student body. While KGI has another printer, it is used primarily by the research staff and is not readily accessible to students.
Ultimately the club's goal is to establish a thriving 3D printing lab and open community for 3D printing here on campus. The club has about a dozen members, with KGI faculty members Joel West and Anna Hickerson acting as advisors. Dr. West is researching consumer adoption of 3D printing, while Dr. Hickerson teaches a section on SolidWorks-a 3D mechanical design program-as part of a medical diagnostics course that all first-year Master of Bioscience (MBS) and Postbaccalaureate Premedical Certificate (PPC) students take.
The newly formed club's mission to acquire KGI's first 3D printer got an enormous and completely unexpected boost thanks to the generosity of a La Habra Heights woman named Wilma Kellough, and a timely story in City of Industry News, the monthly newsletter of the Industry Manufacturers Council and the City of Industry.
A family friend shared the IMC article with Kellough, who at the time had 3D printer sitting unused in her garage. The printer belonged to Kellough's son Jeff, who died last December at age 47. Kellough says her son, an aerospace engineer who was always a bit of ahead of his time, had purchased the early model 3D printer in 2000 to start his own business.
"He used it to make specially designed shipping containers for sculptures and other works of art," Kellough said. "He also did some things for a doctor that had do with neurosurgery. But I remember at the time he had a hard time explaining the concept of 3D printing to people. They just couldn't envision what it could do."
When Kellough read about KGI students' excitement about the potential of 3D printing, she says she knew that donating the printer would be a "wonderful opportunity" to honor her son's memory.
"Jeff was always very interested in education and in teaching people new things," Kellough says. "Donating the printer to a school so young people can develop their skills and use their imaginations really represents everything he stood for."
Plans are already underway to put Kellough's donation to great use, says 3D printing club organizer Andrew Barajas.
"Mrs. Kellough's donation will allow students to do research into tissue printing similar to what many of the top research centers are capable of doing," Barajas says. "We also hope the printer will be used to help students become more interactive in the medical device and diagnostics major here at KGI, as they will be able to print designs that they came up with during their courses and see their visions of new medical device technology come to life. We're very grateful to Mrs. Kellough for helping to make this possible in a much shorter time span than we had anticipated."