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3-D printer helps LSU Shreveport's animation and digital effects program

Kate Archer Kent

There are a handful of 3-D printers in the Shreveport/Bossier area, and all are being put to different uses, according to the head of LSU Shreveport's animation and digital effects program. John Miralles purchased one several years ago through a grant. He said it’s enhancing the skill set of his students. The printer uses heated plastic in a layering process to turn his students’ computer designs into real objects.

"We’re doing creative projects with an engineering-grade technology," Miralles said, as he peered into the printer's viewing window that resembles a convection oven.

Miralles fields a steady stream of local requests to use the printer for various projects. Right now, he’s printing a dog for a client, and he can’t divulge more than that. It’ll take 39 hours to print the plastic model. Miralles said the printer is a good recruiting tool.

"The 3-D printer has always been an attraction technology for us. In other words, it’s there to get people interested in learning how to do this stuff," Miralles said. "But the primary goal for the students who come through our programs is how to make visual content that goes on a screen somehow.”

Miralles thinks the 3-D printer will transform our lives down the road. He compares it to the light bulb.

“Almost anything you can think of that has physicality can be made on a 3-D printer, if the cost is effective," Miralles said. "What’s happening is the cost is coming down, down, down."

Entire movie sets have been made using special 3-D printers. On Miralles' printer, a typical project will cost between $10 and $100 for materials. That dog should be finished printing sometime on Feb. 26.