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3-D printer brings advanced technology to BOCES

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Sackets Harbor Central School senior Christian T. Haynes spends most mornings at the Charles H. Bohlen Technical Center in front of a computer, drafting parts to be converted into a track vehicle.

Rather than create the prototype with metal or wood, as would have been done in the past, he is able to use a 3-D printer that builds the model for him with plastic, a quarter of a millimeter per hour, in his computer-aided drafting and design class.

“I’m mostly interested in mechanical things,” he said. “I like putting things together and watching it work.”

While waiting for a cleat for the tracking vehicle — which looks similar to a military tank — to finish printing, he drafted an Adirondack chair built by another Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services class.

To create a model, Mr. Haynes drafts it on the computer, then switches it to a program that puts the drawing into a language that the printer can understand. Depending on the size of the piece he is making, it can take all day for the printer to build the plastic prototype.

If the piece does not fit the other parts, Mr. Haynes keeps tweaking his drawing until it does.

“It’s really eye-opening to see how much it takes to make a simple project,” he said.

His teacher, Walter J. Berwick Jr., said the new equipment makes the drafting class even more interesting for students hoping to go into architecture or engineering. The technology the students are learning to work with will be necessary whether they pursue local jobs or head elsewhere after college.

“I push them to use it to create what they are interested in,” Mr. Berwick said. “They can go into a lot of different types of engineering from here.”

The class, which Mr. Haynes started last year, gave him insight into something he is passionate about.

“I was interested in civil engineering, but I really found my niche in mechanical drafting,” he said.

He started working on the track vehicle toward the end of last school year, but predicts he will not be finished with it by the time he graduates. He plans to attend Jefferson Community College to save money before transferring to a bigger, four-year school.

“I won’t be able to finish it by the end of the year, but I definitely want to visit next year’s class,” he said. “I don’t ever want to leave.”

Students interested in enrolling in the program can contact their guidance counselor.

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