Alamance County students learning to use 3D printers

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ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. -- When Terry Drummond's advanced automotive class meets, they get to see and touch almost every part and system that makes up a car. But Drummond says one critical system is missing.

"The anti-lock brake system of the car. We wanted to incorporate the design. But in order to do that, we had to duplicate what the car is doing and to duplicate that we need wheels turning."

Buying an anti-lock brake system simulator would have broken the bank. Instead, the advanced automotive class at the Alamance Burlington Career and Technical Education Center built their own. Then they asked the advanced engineering students to build something to simulate the wheels. High school senior Faith Meacham got to work.

"I took measurements off of a hollow gear piece and I had to draw the insert into it so they could use a specific machine to turn the gear piece," Meacham said.

Once Meacham came up with her design, she used a 3D printer to make the wheel.

"It was exciting to see something that I have done would have actual purpose in class and some other uses too," Meacham said.

Drummond says the student-built anti-lock brake system is giving his automotive students hands on experience.

"We can break a circuit, put too much resistance in a circuit and test it and allow the kids to increase their understanding about anti-lock brakes and how to diagnose it," Drummond said.

Building the anti-lock brake system encourage team work between the automotive and engineering group. Plus the project re-enforced Meacham's belief that she can make it in a male dominated field.

"I think it’s mainly exciting to enter a world where you may be the only female in your class,” Meacham said.

A 3D printer that uses carbon fiber is the next step for the students. Automotive and engineering students say making carbon fiber parts will make their designs stronger.

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