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Vincennes U Promotes Sustainability, Cuts Costs With 3D Printing Technology

Vincennes University has deployed a paper-based 3D printer cut costs while providing fabrication students with unlimited access to 3D modeling technology.

The Indiana university chose the Mcor Matrix 3-D printer from Ireland-based Mcor Technologies. In contrast to more expensive plastics-based printers, the Mcor Matrix is based on Selective Deposition Lamination (SDL) technology, in which the printer renders solid photorealistic models using ordinary business-letter paper as the build material.

The printer takes standard sheets of printer paper and deposits regular polyvinyl acetate (PVA) glue in a pattern determined by the design. Another sheet of paper is added, and a tungsten carbide blade cuts away the excess paper. The models, which look similar to wood, can then be sanded, painted, and finished. Because the eco-friendly models are made of paper, they can be recycled.

In addition, because of the cost savings, students will have unlimited access to the 3-D printer in the Vincennes University fabrication lab, giving them ample opportunities to garner hands on experience on a daily basis.

"Some schools buy the most expensive 3D printer on the market, then don't let their students get their hands on it because it costs too much to print models," said Tom Danielsen, interim coordinator of the product design and production processes program at Vincennes University, in a prepared statement. "Our tradition is hands on. We want students using the machine, learning how it works and what they can do with it. Because the material, paper, is so affordable, the Mcor Matrix is most definitely a hands-on machine."

The purchase fits into a larger commitment to sustainability at Vincennes University where Green Task Force promotes a more sustainable and green campus through recycling and other efforts. Additionally, the student-run biology club has done work on the nature preserve and worked to create a rain garden center, and the Blue+Gold=Green campaign promotes recycling, and in 2009, habitat restoration project funded by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources was started on campus.

Founded in 1801 as Jefferson Academy, Vincennes University is the oldest public institution of higher learning in Indiana. Located on the banks of the Wabash River in Vincennes, IN, the 160-acre campus enrolls approximately 4,500 students.

For more information about Vincennes University, visit vinu.edu.

About the Author

Sharleen Nelson is a freelance journalist based in Springfield, Oregon. She can be reached at snelson858@comcast.net.

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