One local student has been using his 3D printing skills to create hundreds of plastic holders for plexiglass, which will be used in all the schools across the entire Owensboro Public Schools district when students return to class.
Brenden King, 18, said he’s created 200 plexiglass holders so far, with plans to print between 800 and 1,000 within the next month.
In the beginning, there was uncertainty surrounding the 3D printer’s ability to create what was needed to hold the plexiglass — which will be used to separate students from each other in OPS cafeterias — in place. King, 18, was asked by OIA Engineering Facilitator Stephanie Gray to come in and see if the school’s 3D printer was capable of printing holders for plexiglass.
“Whenever Ms. Gray asked me, I came in and modeled a printed holder. We were testing to see if we could actually do this,” King said.
As it turned out, OIA’s 3D printer was indeed capable of printing plexiglass holders made of filament, a type of plastic that’s often used to print objects from 3D printers. The holders contain two pieces — a T-shaped piece on top, and a cube-shaped piece on the bottom, King said.
“Because of COVID, we have to socially distance. Whenever students come back in, we can’t just sit down and eat lunch next to each other because there’s not enough space between us,” King said. “There will be plexiglass between us and the holders will be on most tables. They’ll be shaped like a T to hold three sections of plexiglass.”
King works anywhere between five and nine hours a day printing plexiglass holders. He predicted that it’ll take another month to print the needed amount — simply because they ran out of filament for the 3D printer and had to wait for more to be shipped in.
The process for creating the holders is fairly simple, King said. After he creates the object through the modeling software, he transfers that model to a separate software connected to the 3D printer. After the object is translated into a code the printer can read, the code is sent to the printer and starts printing.
The top piece takes about three-and-a-half hours to make and the bottom piece takes about four hours, King said.
King will graduate from both OIA and Daviess County High School this May, and he will also receive his associate’s degree in engineering from Brescia University. Before he was hired by OPS to print around a thousand plexiglass holders, he said he was always the 3D printer person at OIA.
3D printing is just a hobby for King, though he plans to expand his engineering experience in college, with plans to attend the University of Chicago for molecular engineering. He said he’ll likely go for his doctorate afterward.
“I’m willing to help out anytime and getting to create these for the whole district has been interesting,” King said. “It’s fun. It’s something I enjoy.”