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Johnson & Johnson Enlists UNF Students For 3-D Printing Research, Development

Peyton Hopson is an Engineering fellow with Johnson & Johnson. On Friday he held up a pink and yellow plastic wrench, printed at the University of North Florida.

“So this is basically a simple wrench with an actuating part in it that sort of opens and closes,” Hopson said. “[It] was generated with no assembly whatsoever.“


The tool — printed as one piece, with movable parts — is one of the technologies Johnson & Johnson wants UNF students to use to develop new processes with new materials for the company.

Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News
Peyton Hopson, an Engineering fellow with Johnson & Johnson. Showed a yellow and pink plastic wrench, printed as one piece, with movable parts.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony at UNF, Friday marked the grand opening of a new 3-D printing lab fitted with seven state-of-the-art printers, for the students to work with.

Chris Barker is a Mechanical Engineering student at UNF.

“We’re working with materials that can be utilized in the biomedical industry and being able to print those on 3-D Printers, it makes it a lot easier to make them,” Barker said. “Certain shapes you couldn’t manufacture in other ways. So it’s really a very integrated system.”

Mark Tumeo, Dean of UNF's College of Computing, Engineering and Construction, says while most people think of 3-D printers spewing out plastic toys and tools,  UNF is working on medical devices and implants.

“What we’re researching here is the use of novel materials,” Tumeo said.

He said an example would be a knee replacement.

Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News
Engineering College Dean Mark says students are working toward creating pieces like implantable knee caps. He says UNF is leading Florida with this research.

“They’ll take an MRI of your knee, feed that data into the computer and while you’re getting ready for surgery it will print an actual replacement knee that is perfectly specified for you,” Tumeo said. So that’s the goal, the long-term goal.”

He says UNF is leading Florida with this research.

“It is a major selling point,” Tumeo said. “This is one cutting-edge areas of advanced manufacturing, and we’re a leader in the state. And with Johnson & Johnson we can be a leader in the nation and the world.”

The hope is for students will develop sought after skill sets and stay in Jacksonville.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.