TROY offering new 3D printing classes starting this fall

The large-format 3D printers will be housed at the IDEA Bank in downtown Troy.

The large-format 3D printers will be housed at the IDEA Bank in downtown Troy.

A new series of classes aims to give Troy University students the tools necessary to enter the growing world of 3D printing.

3D Printing for Art and Industry, a series of classes being offered as a University minor starting this fall, helps students build the knowledge and skills required to digitally design objects for 3D printing and manufacture.

These courses, the first two of which are available as general studies electives this fall, represent a high-tech creative and industrial fabrication program focused on sustainable materials, innovative thinking and problem solving.

The courses are overseen by Frank Marquette, Professor of Practice in the Department of Theatre and Dance, who has spent more than 25 years working as a designer, innovative manufacturer and creative project manager in the motion picture, television, museum, amusement park and industrial material handling industries.

“The fourth Industrial Revolution is here, and 3D printing is center stage,” Marquette said. “The growth in this area is gigantic. This program will give students the skills to utilize sustainable materials in large-format printing. This is not only desktop-scale printing. We’re printing in cubic yards, not cubic inches.”

TROY has partnered with the World’s Advanced Saving Project (WASP), an Italian company considered the worldwide leader in large-format printing of recyclable materials, which will supply much of the technology used in the program.

“They decided, based on the scope and vision of this program, that they wanted us to be their university hub for the state of Alabama,” Marquette said. “In fact, we’re the first WASP hub in America. We’ll be collaborating internationally.”

The courses will be offered both online and in person, and the skills learned can be applied to a variety of disciplines.

“Students will be working toward the end goal of them graduating with a strong understanding of how they can apply this to all different areas, and a portfolio showing they’ve actually done these things,” Marquette said. “Every professor in every department I talk to says, ‘Wow, we could use that.’ People in archaeology are excited, people in health and human services, those who deal with theater props — it really is a technology and skill set that can be applied to anything. You don’t have to be really strong in arts or sciences to pick this up, just willing to learn new ways of designing, inventing and creating solutions. “

Marquette said working with local businesses such as plastics recycler KW Plastics will allow the program to have value in the community as well, including internships with local businesses and enterprises.

The Large Format 3D Printing Lab will be located at the IDEA Bank in downtown Troy.

“What I’m excited about is we’re going to be leading the way nationally in terms of finding innovative solutions to using recyclable plastics,” he said. “We will be the only university in America that is offering this emphasis in additive manufacturing or 3D printing. We’re not following a trend, we’re starting one.”