Students can now use a $200,000 printer to create projects in stainless steel.
The first and only 3D metal printer in Florida opened for use Monday in the UF Infinity Fab Lab in Infinity Hall, the lab director Juan Griego said. The printer, made by Markforged, a 3D printing company, uses medical-grade stainless steel to create everything from medical tools to jewelry.
UF bought the printer using an award from a UF student inventors program. It costs $15 to $30 for students to print smaller items, and can be up to more than $100 for larger items, Griego said.
There are only a couple hundred of these devices available worldwide, Griego said. UF is one of the first institutions to have access to this type of printer, offers the lowest cost nationwide, and wants to further decrease the cost.
“It’s really leading edge, anyone that comes to visit will be one of the first folks to have a metal-printed part,” Griego said.
The first time Jenny McCloskey, a 22-year-old UF art junior, used a 3D printer was to create a plastic model of a brain ventricle, a cavity within the brain, for a health class. Printing creations in stainless steel would give a new edge to her future projects.
“I was very skeptical of 3D printers since I was used to traditional methods of sculpture,” she said. “After I took a class on it, it definitely changed my mind.”