It's more a friendly competition than a war, but the students at LeTourneau University and the engineers at Aleph Objects (the makers of the LulzBot 3D printer) are battling it out to see who can keep the most 3D printers running at one time.
The objective? An entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. But, what seems to have gotten a bit lost in the story is this thoroughly amazing statement:
"At LeTourneau University, all freshmen engineering students are required to build their own 3D printers their first semester of college."
It's a stunning requirement and one that points to a steamroller effect on the future of additive manufacturing and 3D printing technology. It's also a step in the right direction and a harbinger of things to come.
According to Ron DeLap, the Dean of the School of Engineering and Engineering Technology at LETU, 3D printers may soon take their place in nearly every home.
"I see a big function of these printers in the future in just being able to print replacement parts," said DeLap. "You can print the back cover of your phone and personalize it with your name on it if you want to, or you can break a knob on your kitchen cabinet and print a replacement."
As of April 4, the LETU students on the tiny campus in Longview, TX, were hoping to set a Guinness World Record for the most 3D printers operating in one room when word broke that LulzBot had already exceeded the university's intended goal. But it remains mighty cool that what we're talking about here is the very idea that a group of 18 and 19-year-olds built their own 3D printers – 102 of them. This from a group of students who were in high school this time last year.
LeTourneau and LulzBot have both submitted all the required paperwork and proof to claim the record, and that's cool, but it's hard not to admire the pluck and audacity of the freshman class at Printer U.
"Forget world records and incredible technology, and let's focus for a minute on our students," said Jenna Pace, Social Media Coordinator and writer at LeTourneau. "These LETU freshmen didn't simply get to use 3D printers – they made their own. Every printer used in attempting to set the Guinness record was the product of the hands of LETU freshman engineering students as a requirement of their class. They will continue to use their printers over the course of their LETU education."
As for the record?
Aleph Objects, Inc, the LulzBot guys, say they hold the world record for most 3D printers running simultaneously as a result of their effort on April 3rd, 2014 when they say they had 109 LulzBot 3D printers running simultaneously.