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Southern Tech unveils new innovation lab

Drew Butler
drew.butler@ardmoreite.com
The innovation lab at Southern Tech offers numerous 3D printers of various sizes to help bring ideas into the real world. It is open to both students and members of the public for a small membership fee.

Southern Tech has recently unveiled its innovation lab where students and members of the public can build and create their visions. The lab contains numerous 3D printers of various sizes, a composite printer, a laser engraver, and two virtual reality computers that allow users to look at parts in 3D as well as create their designs.

Innovation Lab Lead Anthony Bilyeu said the purpose of the lab is for members of the public, as well as the student body, to have access to cutting edge technology to bring their designs into the real world.

“If people have an idea of what they want to create, we can help them create it,” Bilyeu said. “If they have a 3D model, then we can help them print it. If they haven’t got that far yet, we have the CAD (Computer Aided Design) software to create that 3D model that we can then print from.”

He said the engraving works the same way. If members or students have a design in mind, innovation lab workers can help them use the software to engrave their designs onto metal or wood.

Bilyeu said the lab has 14 smaller 3D printers, two 3D printers that can print taller pieces, and one large format printer that can print large pieces or several small pieces at once. The composite printer can print stronger pieces. For example, right now it is set up to print in plastic mixed with Kevlar.

He said the lab started coming together during the 2018-2019 school year and then opened up to the public on October 1.

“We started getting the equipment starting last fall,” he said. “First, we slowly started getting the 3D printers in, then we got the engraver, the VR computers, and the large format printer.

He said Southern Tech students have already been enjoying the lab.

“We have several sculptures here on campus, and my class has designed all those sculptures,” Bilyeu said. “So for the last one we did, we 3D-printed it out first to look at it before we made the full sized one.”

For more information about the innovation lab visit www.sotech.edu/innovation-lab/. Memberships are open to the public for $20 a month and can be purchased by contacting Southern Tech at (580) 223-2070.