Somerset Community College Gets NSF Grant to Expand Reach of 3-D Printing Program

Jul 31, 2016

In the 3-D printing lab at Somerset Community College, Heather Beebe holds a 3-D printed model of a section of her own spine and skull. The model was generated from an MRI she had after a car accident.
Credit Somerset Community College

Somerset Community College has received a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to expand the reach of its 3-D printing program.

The main focus of the grant is to advance biomedical applications for 3-D printing in the region.

Eric Wooldridge is associate professor of 3-D printing at Somerset Community College.  He says the technique is already playing a big role in biomedical field.

“We actually can take full body MRIs and select sections that we want to print off. It can be the actual organs. It can be the bone structure. Whatever a surgeon or physician may need to better prepare for surgery or plan diagnostically what they’re going to do.” 

He says the process uses different types of materials to create physical forms.

“We actually have several body parts from some of our folks who’ve brought in their CT scans that we’ve actually taken and produced right in the lab. So I have lots of little heads and necks and spines and hips and things like that around.”

Wooldridge says one goal of the grant is to increase awareness of the wide range of uses for 3-D printing. It can also be used for manufacturing replacement parts for machines, architectural models and accessories like cases for smartphones.

Somerset Community College has developed a certificate program for 3-D printing. The first graduates will earn that certificate at the end of the fall semester.