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James Clemens students create with 3D carver

At James Clemens High School, the three-dimensional carver uses a standard router and a computer to create 3D designs. CONTRIBUTED
At James Clemens High School, the three-dimensional carver uses a standard router and a computer to create 3D designs. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – A James Clemens High School teacher has secured cutting-edge (literally) technology for his students.

With his successful grant, engineering teacher Greg Ennis has purchased a three-dimensional (3D) carver. The device is a small Computer Numerical Control (CNC) router and similar to an industrial milling machine, he said.

“We won this (machine) as part of the ‘Inventables 50 States 3D Carver Contest,” Ennis said.

John Bean, a former student’s parent, alerted Ennis to the contest.

“This machine extends the ability of students to create,” Ennis said, “and complements our 3D printer. 3D printing is an additive manufacturing technique; this machine uses a subtractive manufacturing technique.”

Located in Chicago, Inventables manufactured the X-Carve 1000.

“A CNC mill is something that engineering students are very likely to encounter in their careers,” Ennis said. “I want them to have a head start understanding the processes involved.”

The contest had three required rounds: a teacher essay, lesson plan and video, which students produced with their pleas for the machine.

The 3D carver uses a standard router and a computer to create 3D designs. “It can be programmed using standard CNC code, or through an online program called Easel. It can carve just about any shape in wood, plastic or soft metals, such as aluminum,” Ennis said.

The carver allows students to create a design that they imagine. “Teachers, too,” Ennis said. “I’ve already had a couple of teachers who have shown interest and are making plans to use it. It is open to any student.”

Some time limitations do exist. James Clemens’ lunch hour or Refuel “is perfect for students to come in and create. They can create their designs in Easel outside the classroom, then log in and use the X-carve,” he said.

Students must supply their own materials. “We’re currently working to limit noise and dust so that (work) can run during regular class times,” Ennis said.

Students familiar with Easel software don’t need training. “The software is very intuitive for them. With a little instruction from me about milling machines and how to get it started, they can easily use the machine on their own,” Ennis said.

For more information, visit inventables.com/50states2015.

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