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Tyler Flaagan donates to Toys for Tots

November 30, 2021

3-D printed train engines part of IC3D campaign

 Dr. Tyler Flaagan, Assistant Professor of Computer and Cyber Sciences in The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences

 Dr. Tyler Flaagan, Assistant Professor of Computer and Cyber Sciences in The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences

After being around for about 40 years, 3D printing technology has gone the way of most technology. The printers have become smaller, more affordable, and much more accessible to the general public.

IC3D Industries, a digital 3D printing company based in Ohio, took advantage of this availability for a philanthropic reason, “to help warm the hearts of children” through a 3D printed Toys for Tots campaign.

In 2018, they reached out to volunteers in the 3D printing world to produce 150 toys for Toys for Tots,  a program of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

Three years later, 128 volunteers printed 18,000 toys. This year, the campaign surpassed its goal of  50,000 3D printed toys, created by volunteer 3D “printing elves.”

Dr. Tyler Flaagan, Assistant Professor of Computer and Cyber Sciences in The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences, heard about this opportunity through the 3D printing community and decided to volunteer to make some toys on his two printers.

The company offered several toy options, providing templates and the plastic filament to create toys such as dinosaurs, horses, sharks, or train engines.

“I just thought it was a cool thing, and it’s not that hard to do, so I figured I’d try it this year and see how it went,” he said.

Flaagan chose to produce train engines. He could print three at a time; the separate wheels he could print 16 at a time. He started early in October so he could create as many as possible before the shipping deadline.

There were some supply chain issues with the filament provided by IC3D, but in late November he shipped 23 engines to the nearest Toys for Tots shipping hub. “I’m hoping to do quite a bit more next year,” he stated.

He’s also been talking with colleague Dr. Tom Halverson about getting the Computer Club involved with this project next year. While 3D printers are more affordable, there are still students without access to the technology, and “this would be a good opportunity for the students to try things out, and get some hands-on experience with printers,” Flaagan said.

But between faculty and researchers’ personal 3D printers, and those owned by the Computer Club, the students could certainly grow the donation numbers in an effort to promote the goal of Toys for Tots, “to help bring the joy of Christmas and send a message of hope to America’s less fortunate children.”

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