LSU Student Gorman Builds Own 3D Printer, Looks For Ways to Continue Education

Joshua Gorman holding 3d printed piecesBATON ROUGE, LA – It started with a $20 robot…as most good stories do.

As part of an extra-credit research class, Joshua Gorman was tasked with designing and creating a robot at a budget of $20 or less. He did it successfully but wasn’t satisfied with the final product and continued to work outside of class at improving its body design.

This required a 3D printer, which the Baton Rouge native didn’t have. So he built one.

“I found out about some cheap clone kits of popular printers and other machines available,” Gorman said. “I decided to take the plunge and buy a kit for my own use. These kits are only in parts and don’t have the best instructions to show you how to build them. But the kit I purchased happened to have a large amount of users who wrote and documented extensively about not only how to build the kit, but also how to improve the design, performance, ability, and even what safety flaws were present and how to mitigate them.”

As his skills developed, Gorman was able to use his 3D printer to build other machines like a diode laser engraver/cutter, 3D scanner, and a desktop router/milling machine. He even printed parts for the printer itself to improve its performance and stability.

“The length of time it took me to initially build the machine was less than a month, with the other modifications taking about a little over a year, due to having to wait for funds to pay for parts and then waiting for parts to come in,” Gorman said. “In real time, with all parts and funds available, I believe I could make the whole machine within two to three months.”

In the future, Gorman intends to build things like a bioprinter, metal 3D printer, five-degree metal milling machine, and other portable fabrication units. He’d also like to pursue a career in the industrial engineering use of 3D-printing technology—whether that involve in-house fabrication, robotics, etc.

“Early adopters of computers were able to secure important positions when the technology matured and I plan to [place] myself in that same position with regards to personal fabrication and robotics,” Gorman said.

There is one issue standing in the way, however, and that is money. The computer science and computer engineering dual major lacks the financing to continue his classes and is uncertain when he’ll finish the final three semesters of full-time coursework he needs to graduate.

“I would like to let people know that I am looking for ways to complete my degree at LSU,” Gorman said. “I have developed a good set of skills and abilities to offer anyone looking for a research assistant, part-timer or intern. Grant projects are another [area] I have a good track record with.”

Here’s hoping that Gorman’s story has a happy ending.


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