Cawley says another benefit the college saw with investing in the paper-based 3D printer is the green opportunities it provides, including reducing and recycling unused material.
“It’s certainly the greenest of all the 3D printers out there,” he says. “I think everyone who sees it asks, what do you do with all that paper that is left over? It goes right to recycle. They think, wow that’s really green. We can take the paper that’s around the models and just throw them in the paper recycle bin and away it goes.”
Reece says the Mcor printer model at the Art Center College of Design is the only printer type in the world that uses regular, 8.5 x 11 paper for printing.
She says using this paper boosts eco-friendliness in the school’s workspaces, especially since it is nontoxic and biodegradable.
“Our technology uses ordinary copy paper, just like the kind they have in their supply cabinets already, to build material,” Reece says. “It’s ordinary copy paper and (the printer uses) water-based adhesives that are very much like Kraft glue, and water-based ink. All of the materials are completely bio-degradable and nontoxic, including the 3D-printed models themselves. They can be fully recycled and tossed in the recycle bin.”
Reece also says the printer itself does not emit harmful chemicals into the atmosphere while students are working.
“There have been a lot of studies recently that (say) glass printers and powder printers emit toxic particles into the air and paper doesn’t do that,” she says. “There are no toxic chemical emissions or odors or any of that, so you can have it sitting right in the classroom with the students.”
Paper is the new “wow” factor
Aside from saving money and the environment, Cawley says the paper-based 3D printer has been a tremendous “wow” factor on campus.
He says the printer has opened new doors to his students’ creativity, and that he is always eager to see what they create with it.
“People get excited easily about it,” he says. “People are looking at the paper machine and we’ve actually had students look at the machine, look at the output and come back with ideas (for a project). I think students are still looking at it and still coming up with ideas for it.”
Reece says she thinks 3D printing will catch on with other colleges like it did with Art Center College of Design, and become more accessible to students in the future.
“I think certainly the applications will expand, but I think it’s going to become much more accessible to students and pervasive in schools,” she says. “I think so many kinds of industries now are using 3D printing. It’s almost become as necessary to use and understand as a computer, whereas maybe as of a few years ago, engineers and product designers only used a 3D printer.”