Hands-on university embraces Mcor’s affordable, green 3D printing technology
“We haven’t come across anything it can’t do. Companies evaluating a machine on a material-cost-per-printed-part basis will see the Matrix is very cost-effective, just as we did. Add in the green factor and it’s a no-brainer.”
– Tom Danielsen, Vincennes University
When Vincennes University faculty walked into a recent manufacturing conference, they were fully intending to buy their industrial technology students an expensive 3D printer that produces plastic models. Before they wrote the check, however, they spotted something unusual: a 3D printer using a radically different material than most 3D printers do – ordinary sheets of paper.
It wasn’t creating origami; these were solid, durable physical models. “When we saw that, we said, ‘Wow, we have to have it,’” recalls Tom Danielsen, interim coordinator of the product design and production processes program. “The affordability drove us right to the Mcor Matrix.”
The university realized it needed an industrial-class 3D printer that was affordable enough to operate that students could use it every day. The Mcor Matrix is now a prominent member of Vincennes tool kit of 3D printers.
Reducing costs, working greener
“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,” explains Danielsen. “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.”
In every case, Vincennes University students find ways to slash the cost of part prototypes. A pulley system, for example, costs $35 in materials from a plastics-based 3D printer but only one-seventh the cost – or $5 – with the Mcor Matrix, according to Danielsen. Finding cost savings of this magnitude is something employers deeply appreciate.
Another benefit is sustainability. “The Mcor Matrix produces models that, when their useful life is over, are as recyclable as paper,” says Danielsen. “That’s because they are paper. Since the sheets are bound together, however, these recyclable models are as tough as wood. Students understand and appreciate the sustainability advantage. It’s important to them.”
The wow factor supports recruiting
To make a model, the Mcor Matrix lays down a sheet of paper and selectively deposits water-based adhesive. A tungsten carbide tip cuts the sheet, using data from 3D CAD software to trace the edges of the part. Another sheet of paper (the next microlayer of the model) is placed atop the previous one. The Mcor Matrix applies pressure and heat to bond the sheets together, and the cycle continues, layer by layer until the 3D printed model is complete.
This process takes place constantly in the Vincennes University fabrication lab, presenting a fascinating and impressive sight to prospective students who visit the school. “Students want to know they’ll be learning exciting new technology here that will make them more competitive when applying for jobs or additional educational programs after graduation,” says Danielsen. Vincennes is a pipeline to some of the biggest employers in manufacturing and technology.
And though the technology is sophisticated, it’s not difficult: “The Mcor Matrix has been very easy to use, and we’ve had no issues at all,” he says. In addition to fabricating parts, the Mcor Matrix also makes patterns for casting.
“We haven’t come across anything it can’t do,” says Danielsen. “Companies evaluating a machine on a material-cost-per-printed-part basis will see the Matrix is very cost-effective, just as we did. Add in the green factor and it’s a no-brainer.”