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Local businesses get boost from LSU's 3D printer

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BATON ROUGE - A new 3D printer may give an edge to budding businesses on LSU's south campus.

The Louisiana Business and Technology Center in LSU's Innovation Park serves as an incubator for entrepreneurs and small businesses. If you can dream it up and build it on a computer program, the 3D printer can make your dream a reality. Innovation Park Executive Director Charles D'Agostino says it's another useful tool.

"It's magic to see something that's drawn up on a computer screen that can be made into a 3D object. It's just pretty phenomenal," he said.

The 3D printer helps out lab technicians like Blaize Vansickle of St. James Technologies. Vansickle designs and manufactures electronics.

"It would just take so much more time to get our prototypes out," he said. "We worked for a long time without a 3D printer, and it took so much longer for products to go out that now that we have it we can get products out weeks, months, where it used to be three to six months sometimes."

While saving entrepreneurs time, the 3D printer allows the 34 businesses on-site to build and display working prototypes to potential investors.

"We help with the business plans, we help them with marketing, we help them raise capital and now we're helping them on actually the development of the prototype to commercialize their technologies," said D'Agostino.

St. James Technologies has already used the printer to put out a housing for a motorcycle fuel sensor with great results.

"It gives us the capability of getting our products in and out very quickly where other companies have mass production we can do something similar to that here," said Vansickle. "It was one of the bigger successes we've had off the 3D printer. Once it came off the 3D printer and it just worked we were able to give it right to the customer without having to wait it was excellent. It was even more excellent for the way the customer reacted to how quickly we got it to them."

The business and technology center plans to add a laser cutter and a 3D scanner to the "Protostripes Lab" in the next few months.



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