BOAZ, Ala. (WHNT) -- A big project for Boaz schools this summer is replacing their computer network, but the mounts that came with the switches don't fit flush with the wall.
"We started looking at ways to get these switches mounted and I talked to a machine shop and told them basically what i needed, and they said it would be five to eight dollars a piece," director of technologies Wayne Caudle said.
He needed 364, for about $2,000. Instead, he spent $2,000 on a Makerbot Replicator 2.
"I started researching 3-D printers, and I figured out i could print them on a 3D printer and print them for about a nickel apiece. So it paid for itself just doing this one job," he said.
Caudle also made some other small devices, like a ginger press, a juicer for oranges or lemons, a bracket for a pontoon boat, and--with 18 hours of printing time--an engine block.
"For the students at our agricultural shop, to show them what the actual inside of an engine looks like, with all the water sleeves and oil sleeves and everything else," he said.
The 3D printer will allow students who take drafting classes at marshall technical school to design parts for cars or other things involvied in manufacturing, and then print them.
"I'm absolutely blown away," superintendent Mark Isley said.
"With not only what it can do right now, but the kinds of things it can do at our middle school to get our students motivated in technology, and motivated in a higher-level of technology of what this thing can produce."
School officials are so impressed with the technology and the opportunities it can provide, they plan to purchase a couple more of the Makerbot Replicators for classroom use.