history lesson #1

From: Elaine Hunt (ehunt@ces.clemson.edu)
Date: Fri Jul 23 1999 - 04:00:27 EEST

many of you have sent me some real great stories but I realize many of you may
hesitate to contribute your stories. I am send you my story so you can see what
people are sending. It is these personal histories that tell the true story of
the technology... I plan to keep adding to mine just was a method of keeping
Clemson's milestones alive.

             I had worked for nine years as computer software and hardware
support person for the College of Engineering when I decided I needed a
change. When word got out that I was interviewing, I was summoned to Dr. Larry
Dooley’s office and the door closed. Since Dr. Dooley was chair of the college
computer committee I fully expected to get a pep talk about remaining in my
job. Instead, he handed me a plastic object and asked me to tell him how it
was made. I explained the possibilities and with each explanation his smile
grew larger until he told me it was first a liquid and that a laser has
solidified it. Then he asked me if I would like to be trained to run the
machine and come to work for him. This new job would be only a contract for
two years. Ten years ago I left a secure job to take a two-year contract to
run a machine with less than 75 existing in the world. When I went to 3D
Systems new facilities in Valencia for training my classmates included Owen
Baumgardner (TI-Rayethon), Paul Blake (Stratasys), Rose Hummel (Cascade
Engineering), and Madu Raman (Clemson University). Our training class was
taught by Joe Mooring. Madu clad in a Mickey Mouse shirt became something of a
legend at the 1989 Orlando User meeting for providing a solution to 3D for a
computational error in their software.
        One of the fun things we did early on was solve the problem of ‘used
resin’ disposal. Since we used alcohol to clean the acrylate resins off the
models, the easiest method of disposal was evaporation. When all the alcohol
was gone, one to two inches of goo was left in the bottom of the container.
Some people sat this goo in the post cure oven, some sat it in the sun, but I
decided to use it to make something. I bought some old glass molds used back
in the 60s to make cast resin grapes and poured the contaminated resin into
them, put them in the oven and let them cure for several weeks as other models
were finished. Then I would break off the outer glass, sand down the stem
area, and used them as balls. I called them “Toxic Toys” and they provided
many hours of entertainment for our students. This was the era of SLA models
that broke with a touch yet these balls not not break but bounced when dropped.
Therefore, the challenge became what would break them and soon they were taken
to rooftops and dropped as well as thrown at concrete walls. Discussions were
held on the possible usage of these ‘Toxic Toys” and many inventive ideas were
generated. I have not tried to make any of these toys with the epoxy resins
but may make a few just for comparison and laughs.

Opinions, suggestions, and other controversial matter VOID where prohibited.
Elaine T. Hunt, Director
Clemson University Laboratory to Advance Industrial Prototyping
206 Fluor Daniel Bldg. Clemson, SC 29643-0925
864-656-0321 (voice) 864-656-4435 (fax)

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