STEM Senior uses 3D printer to invent time-saving device at manufacturing internship

STEM School Highlands Ranch senior Kyle Paris is not your average intern.  The 17-year-old is completing an internship at Panther Industries, a company that specializes in automated labeling.  Panther’s manufacturing warehouse, where Paris is an intern, is just up the street from STEM.

When Paris arrived at Panther Industries, he quickly took note of a particular process on the production line which he perceived as a slower than necessary workflow.   The employees were using their hands to manually secure tape onto a particular rack, and Paris knew that the process could be improved with a simple invention.  Using his 3D-printing knowledge from STEM, Paris designed a 3D-printed device that automatically applies the tape that the employees were manually securing.

“The best I can equate it to is a zipper,” Paris said.  “So, (it) takes the tape and the blue teeth, and when you pull on it, you can see it just lays them together.”

Prior to his invention, Paris says employees spent ten minutes securing the tape onto the rack.  Now, it only takes them about two minutes.  His 3D-printed device may have turned out to be more significant than he originally thought, creating a ripple effect that resulted in Panther Industries increasing sales and productivity.

“On the manufacturing side, you look at how time savings impact your business,” said Ronald Schmoker, Manufacturing Operations Manager at Panther Industries.  “Currently we’re at about 34 seconds per machine.  If we’re able to save 34 seconds a machine, we’re able to build an additional machine without adding any additional labor.  So, Kyle’s process alone got us an additional 15 machines or so.”

For the past five years, Panther has partnered with STEM as part of its internship program.  Some of the interns are now full-time employees at Panther, like Shaun Keys, who works as a Software Engineer.  Paris credits his education at STEM, which not only put him into an innovator’s mindset but a team player as well.

“Problem Based Learning (PBL) really helped teach me to collaborate with others,” Paris said.  “I think (that) was the biggest thing I gained, so a lot of what I do with design is work with the other engineers to make sure that the design is going to work and collaborate to make sure that you get the best design possible.  One idea often isn’t going to be the best one, so it really helped me with the Problem Based Learning at STEM to learn to work with others and gather input to make the best thing you possibly can.”

To see the full feature on Kyle Paris and the device he created, watch the video below.

STEM Senior Kyle Paris demonstrates the 3D-printed device he created to speed up production at Panther Industries
The device Paris created allowed for Panther Industries to purchase 15 more machines
Ronald Schmoker, Manufacturing Operations Manager at Panther says Paris is a big asset, along with the rest of the STEM students who have interned at the warehouse
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