Roland DGA, a global manufacturer of wide-format inkjet printers and 3D devices, announces its support for the Blue Ridge/University of Arizona 4-H FAB LAB, which opened earlier this year in Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona.
The company says it has made it easier for local youth groups to gain hands-on experience with advanced technologies, due to its donation of Roland digital printers and 3D milling devices. Recently, the Fab Lab played host to students from the White Mountain Apache Tribe as well as leaders from 4-H chapters in Pima, Coconino, Apache, Maricopa and Navajo counties, allowing these groups to use its state-of-the-art equipment.
“By giving young people the opportunity to make everything from digitally-printed banners to 3D-milled prototypes, we’re helping to create the next generation of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professionals,” says Kevin Woolridge, co-director of the lab. “The simple operation and impressive capabilities of the devices in our lab make it possible to interest and engage users of all ages.”
The Blue Ridge/UA 4-H FAB LAB provides students with free access to a wide variety of digital devices from Roland and other manufacturers. This state-of-the-art equipment includes Roland’s VersaUV LEF-12 UV flatbed printer, VersaCAMM SP-300i wide-format printer/cutter, CAMM-1 GS-24 desktop cutter, and MDX-40A milling machine.
The visiting students from the White Mountain Apache Tribe STEM Program employed the Roland printer and software to create banners that the Canyon Day Robotics team used at the recent IVEX IQ Junior High World Championships in Kentucky. In addition to designing and printing the banners, the students used the lab’s 3D devices to make the supplies needed for three different STEM projects they completed at the event.
“The students used our Roland VersaUV LEF-12 UV flatbed printer to produce VEX Robots name tags that incorporated their very own graphic designs,” says co-director Steve Gouker, who represents the University of Arizona’s 4-H program in the Fab Lab. “Seeing the light in the kids’ eyes when they got to hold their finished projects was amazing-it was like they were opening presents on Christmas Day,” Gouker added.
Vincent McGurk, a 4-H alumnus, Pima County 4-H Americorps member and one of the individuals that toured the facility, used the lab’s Roland wide-format inkjet to print out several new banners designed by a 4-H member with future career aspirations in graphic design. “This was the best day at work ever!” says McGurk. “I can see how we can get kids excited about using this kind of cutting-edge technology.”