Vint Hill Donation Paves Way For Middle School 3D Printing Program

Fauquier County middle school students will soon have access to the most advanced manufacturing and three-dimensional modeling technology available, thanks in part to an initiative from Vint Hill to donate more than $26,000 in hardware and materials needed to create dedicated 3D printing workstations at all five county middle schools.

The Dremel Idea Builder 3D402 printers, selected by Fauquier County Schools following extensive evaluation and consultation with other school systems, will be the centerpiece of new career and technical education collaborative workstations (C2W) being set up at Auburn, Cedar Lee, Marshall, Taylor, and Warrenton middle schools.

Each school will receive one new 3D printer as well as a dedicated computer, workstation furniture, and a year’s supply of materials used to “print” objects. The C2W 3D printing workstations will allow students to turn their two-dimensional designs created using special software into three-dimensional objects made by the printers.

“Providing everyday access to the latest technology is an essential part of helping prepare students for success, both in school and beyond,” said David Jeck, superintendent of Fauquier County Public Schools. “The 3D printing workstations will enhance our middle-school technology program and provide a solid foundation for students to capitalize on our strong high school programs.”

“The donation of 3D printers to our middle-school technology education programs will allow a vast number of students to utilize this emerging technology,” said Sarah Frye, Fauquier County Public Schools career & technical education supervisor. “With this technology, students can express their creativity and innovation in three dimensions. Their imagination can be brought to life as prototypes can be created, tested and improved in a short period of time.”

The workstations are similar to the ones used in Fauquier County high school CTE programs. By exposing middle school students to the tools and concepts delivered in the high school program, a pipeline of interest and potential future engineers would be developed.

“Exposing students to cutting-edge technology is an important part of an advanced, well-rounded educational experience,” said Ed Moore, president of Vint Hill Village, LLC. “When presented with the opportunity to help ensure that Fauquier’s middle-school students will get the opportunity to actively learn about 3D printing, we didn’t hesitate to support this initiative.”

3D printing, or additive manufacturing, creates objects by adding material, layer by layer, working from computer-aided design (CAD) or 3D modeling software. A 3D printer reads data from a CAD design and lays down layers of liquid, powder, sheets or other types of material, to build objects. While the Dremel Idea Builder uses PLA plastic to build objects, the procedure is similar to machines that use more advanced plastics and metal.

3D printing is used to make a variety of goods, ranging from design prototypes to ready-to-use parts found on everything from furniture to jet engines. Industries that are using it include healthcare, aerospace, automotive manufacturing, and architecture.