REDDING, Calif. - Printers have come a long way from the dot matrix printers of the 80s. And Shasta High School has one of the most advanced printers you can buy.
It's a 3D printer and can print almost anything you can imagine and design.
Industrial and technology teacher Chris Scheide is excited to have the printer.
"It is really cool," said Scheide. "It's really interesting to be able to have it and have students be able to draw something, print it out and have a 3D model of their drawing."
The printer works by melting a strand of plastic and extruding it through a nozzle onto an aluminum plate. The nozzle works back and forth and layer by layer builds up enough plastic to make whatever you designed.
But it's more complicated than just drawing something and clicking print. There are engineering properties that have to go into the plans. The printer can't print at any more than a 45 degree angle without support and the molten plastic won't support itself.
That means that break-away supports have to be built into the original designs in order to make some of the more complex shapes.
There are also complications like thermal expansion and contraction of the plastic that has to be accounted for.
Right now Shasta High students are focusing on getting the design perfect for an iPhone cover. Right now they're on their seventh iteration of the design.
"The actual filament shrinks two percent," said Scheide. "So you have to take that into account or you have a case you can't get off your phone."
"We had to cut one off," said student Logan Taylor. "It's just the sizing we're trying to scale it up and down all in the pursuit of the perfect fit."
They've even branched out from iPhone cases. Just last week the class experimented with printing a few Hershey Kiss cases for Valentine's Day.
The most important thing the printers have done is unlocked some enthusiasm in the Shasta High School students.
"I look forward to [the class] throughout the day," said Taylor. "It's cool because I'll be looking online and go that's cool, I could probably build that."
Shasta High students hope to sell some of their creations once they perfect their designs. Once that happens they can make about 200 iPhone cases per one kilogram spool of plastic filament.