Tanja Hernandez, operations manager of the Geek Bus, brought the bus to Portland for the first time Friday to teach visitors about 3-D printing technology. Hernandez used a Maker Bot Replicator—a desktop 3-D printer—to make plastic trinkets for visitors. The Maker Bot can create numerous plastic objects, including bracelets, key chains, “Minecraft” creepers and TARDISes, Hernandez said. TARDISes are fictional time machines featured in the “Doctor Who” TV show.
Hernandez said 3-D printing technology is used by NASA, representatives in the health and food industries and engineers in numerous fields.
“We want to show children that engineering is really cool,” Hernandez said. “There’s a shortage of engineers in the world, and we want to help that.”
Hernandez—a member of SASTEMIC, a nonprofit organization in San Antonio—said 3-D printing technology has been used to make prosthetic limbs for children in Sudan.
“There are several programs that do 3-D prosthetic projects in San Antonio,” Hernandez said. “There are a lot of careers that use this around Texas. Plumbing companies use it to make fittings.”
The Geek Bus’ Maker Bot heats plastic at 400 degrees, and cost $2,000, although Hernandez said those interested can create their own for much less.
“You can build your own 3-D printer for a fraction of the cost,” she said. “You can get a kit for $400.”
The Geek Bus visits summer camps in San Antonio and various schools, Hernandez said.
“We’ve taught our programs to 3,000 students in the last six months,” she added.
To learn more about the Geek Bus and its programs, visit www.geekbus.com.