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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M Aggies guard Tyrece Radford (23) blocks Arkansas Razorbacks guard Tramon Mark (12) during Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, at Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)
Free falling
February 20, 2024
Jace LaViolette (17) an Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle celebrating a home run during Texas A&Ms game against UIW on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
GALLERY: Baseball vs. UIW
February 20, 2024
Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) catches a pop fly during Texas A&M’s game against McNeese on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024 at Blue Bell Park. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Four for four
February 20, 2024
Texas A&M Aggies guard Tyrece Radford (23) blocks Arkansas Razorbacks guard Tramon Mark (12) during Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, at Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)
Free falling
February 20, 2024
Jace LaViolette (17) an Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle celebrating a home run during Texas A&Ms game against UIW on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
GALLERY: Baseball vs. UIW
February 20, 2024
Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) catches a pop fly during Texas A&M’s game against McNeese on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024 at Blue Bell Park. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Four for four
February 20, 2024

Graduate student launches 3-D printer website

 
 

Amid the pens, flash-drives and packs of gum on Michael Mehlman’s desk, rests a 3D printer, the small machine with which he formed his entrepreneurial enterprise.
In February, the applied physics graduate student launched grain3d, a Web site where customers can browse and download designs to a flash drive and print them using a home 3-D printer.
Mehlman said he initially learned about 3-D printing technology by watching YouTube videos. He then spent last October to January considering the potential the apparatus had in a consumer market.
“I asked myself, ‘How do you make it available to the whole population?'” Mehlman said. “The technology has existed for a long time in industry, but not for consumers. This is going to be a real game changing technology.”
Mehlman’s envisions his website will parallel an app store for electronic devices.
“The idea is to become the premier catalog of 3-D design,” Mehlam said. “People will have this one place they can come and find reliable products.”
Mehlman worked with Computer Aided Design (CAD) in his time as a graduate student. This program, along with several others, provided him with the knowledge needed to create 3-D models.
Once the design is downloaded from grain3d, it transforms into a tangible product by “stereolithography,” a process Mehlman described as a “hot glue gun like.” Plastic is dispersed through the nozzle attached to the printer, and the solid product is formed in layers by the resin-like liquid and lasers. The results are common objects seen everyday such as phone cases, phone stands or money clips.
Mehlman’s research advisor, assistant professor of physics and astronomy Dan Melconian described Mehlman as “creative” and “focused” in his work.
“I think he’s always had a business sense about him,” Melconian said.
While Mehlman was confident in the technicalities of design, he was still unsure of his business skills and turned to Startup Aggieland, a student led business accelerator for student entrepreneurs, during March of this past year for assistance.
“I met with our Student Leader Council and said, ‘We’ve got to get this guy in to interview,'” said Shelly Brenckman, one of the marketing wranglers assigned to Mehlman. “We think he has a fast entry into the market. He was fairly [far] along when he came to us. He skipped the early stages,” she said.
Since the advent of the 3-D printer, the printers have evolved to become much smaller and increasingly user-friendly. Mehlman is using this change to target the everyday consumer. 3-D printing has also been considered for manufacturing food products and more controversial innovations such as firearms.
Mehlman said using 3-D printing to develop food could be cost efficient, because of the waste produced when manufacturing food products.
“Wherever materials are scarce, 3-D printing will make a huge impact,” he said.
Mehlman said the creation of firearms is a “real possibility” and a topic that will have to be addressed.
“I can see the legal side playing out,” he said. “It will be interesting to see how the government and judicial system deals with this.”

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