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Oak Hill Begins Digital Inclusion Week with 3D Printing

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The Oak Hill Collaborative kicked off Digital Inclusion Week with a class on 3D printing Tuesday morning to show adults they can learn new technology.

The small group of attendees watched as instructor Amy Zell explained how web-based software programs can be used to create an object like a cookie cutter. Once it is created and sliced to cut using tools in the software, it is saved on a photo card or jump drive that is inserted into a 3D printer. The image passes into a roll of plastic filament that feeds into an extruder and creates the item one layer at a time on a build plate.

“It’s like Cheese Whiz coming out of a can that makes layers,” Zell said. 

Christmas ornaments, key chains, chocolate molds, cookie cutters or figurines are possible, Zell told said to the class. 

An unexpected plumbing issue delayed the start of the class, but participants looked over items that already had been created, like a blue full-sized guitar.

“Connecting people to digital technology, getting them involved is directly connected to economic development,” said Oak Hill Collaborative executive director Pat Kerrigan.

This is the second year for the digital divide education outreach event. A $20,000 from The Youngstown Foundation for the Collaborative’s Digital Advantage program paid for equipment, classes and workshops throughout the year to improve computer knowledge and internet skills. 

Oak Hill Collaborative is a nonprofit organization on Youngstown’s south side that provides small business incubation services, a makerspace with tools and resources to grow ideas into viable inventions, market products and/or goods, resources to help bridge the digital divide and a meeting space for community organizations and revitalization efforts.

The Collaborative’s goal is to provide better access to broadband, expand coverage and supply more economical hardware and software. 

“Technology is for everyone. Technology is not just for those going to school right now,” Zell said. “Everyone can explore new technologies.”

Computers, printers, meeting space and three 3D printers made by InventorCloud, located in the Youngstown Business Incubator, are open to the public. Every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. a makerspace session is held at no cost. A makerspace is physical location where people gather to share resources and knowledge, work on projects, network, and build. 

Bob Davenport is regular visitor at the makerspace, using the printers to make a device he invented called Add A Trap. 

“I’ve done a couple thousand pieces using the 3D printers here,” he said. The device is PVC pipe that connects to plumbing and has a plastic strainer that stays in place due to the grooves made by the 3D printers. 

“If something falls down a drain, there’s no more searching through pipes,” he said. “You just open the trap and pull out the basket and there it is.”

Davenport said his devices are now being sold at area Home Depot stores. 

“How much does it cost to come in and use this space and printers,” asked Katrina Love, one of the attendees.

“We have no mechanism for charging,” Kerrigan said. “This is a community space and we want people to use it.”

Love asked Zell how to make a logo into a 3D object. Zell gave her several options. “I love being able to help take an idea that someone has in their head and potentially hold it in their hand,” Zell said.

Zell encourages adults to not be deterred from learning about technology.

“They forget that they learned something a long time ago that we can’t do now,” she said. “I’ll have adults who can knit – I can’t knit. They didn’t pick up knitting needles and knit the first day. I just like to remind them you’re starting with something new just like you learned the skill you already have that you’re so good at you’re going to be good at this to, you just need to keep working at it.”

This week the makerspace is open every day. Kerrigan hopes more adults will come in the learn about technology and have questions about all things digital answered. 

Digital Inclusion Week continues Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to noon. On Thursday, Understanding, Selecting and Using Bible Apps is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to noon, and Making Music with Sonic Pi and Audacity will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Pictured: 3D printing instructor Amy Zell, center, shows Natalie Bancroft an object from a 3D printer as Katrina Love looks on.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.