By SARA GIBONEY
KEARNEY – A new fabrication lab in the Interior Design Department at the University of Nebraska at Kearney allows students to get hands-on experience creating interior design models.
The College of Business and Technology, Center for Rural Research and Development and interior design program partnered to create the new lab.
The lab, which opened in August, includes three 3-D printers, two laser cutters, a vinyl cutter and two routers, which are all used to design and manufacture interior design prototypes.
A 3-D printer allows interior designers, artists and others to print three-dimensional models of two-dimensional digital files. The printer prints layers of plastic following the file’s direction. Students use design programs to create the digital files.
In the lab, students learn foundational skills of design, said Jeff Nordhues, assistant professor of family studies and interior design.
Students use the technology to create architectural and product models, create furniture prototypes and solve interior design problems. Beginning Technology, Intermediate Technology and Advanced Technology are the courses that use the lab.
“The hope is that this will not only be used for our students, but it will be used to help entrepreneurs in the community and around Nebraska,” said Sylvia Asay, chair of the Family Studies and Interior Design Department. “They will be able to come in and use the equipment to develop products and to offer classes or workshops to help people understand what they could do with this technology.”
Students will be trained to assist community members who use the lab.
The lab will eventually be used by students in other departments such as information technology, biology and physics.
3-D lab already saving UNK money
The new fabrication lab in the interior design department at the University of Nebraska at Kearney solves problems beyond the classroom.
Duane Wirkus, a campus electrician, was working to fix light fixture covers in the Nebraskan Student Union.
Small plastic clips, located on each side of the light fixtures, were cracking. The manufacturer no longer made the fixture, nor did it sell replacement clips. An alternative clip was found, but the cost was $20 each. Each light fixture required four clips, and 80 fixtures needed replacement clips.
Wirkus, who completed the electrical work in the new fabrication lab, asked Jeff Nordhues, assistant professor of family studies and interior design, if he could help.
Nordhues designed and printed clips using the lab’s 3-D printers. The total cost was about $50, giving UNK a savings of more than $6,000.
“Any kind of design problem can be solved by using this equipment,” said Sylvia Asay, chair of the family students and interior design department.
Source: Jeff Nordhues, 308.865.8226, firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer: Sara Giboney, 308.865.8529, email@example.com