It’s not every day one sees something astounding, something you didn’t know was possible.
But that’s what happened to me last week when I saw a 3-D printer in action. It was up at the McDonough Museum, part of an exhibition on three-dimensional printing that will open Friday.
The small printer, suitable mainly for demonstrations, was a plexiglass cube with an open top, maybe the size of a bread box. In the center was a bare platform and perched above it a printer stylus, hooked up to wires and a tube that feeds it liquified plastic.
A few commands from a nearby computer made it spring to life. And when it stopped, a small five-link chain was sitting on the platform.
First there was nothing. Then there was something.
First an idea, then a physical representation of that idea, in a flash.
Simple, but mind-blowing.
A 3-D printer is remarkably similar to a common household computer printer. Except it doesn’t just print in one dimension, i.e., ink on a flat piece of paper. It prints with three dimensions: length, height and width.
It can use plastic, ceramic or metal as a medium — anything that can be melted, shaped, and then hardened as it cools.
This amazing technology, still in its infancy but growing rapidly, will change life on many levels, from manufacturing to household use. At this point, we can’t even estimate how many uses it will have.
As an invention, it’s on a par with radio, microwave ovens, cell phones and the Internet. You may one day say, “I remember what it was like before 3-D printers.”
The technology has been around since the ’80s. But its advancement — and the subsequent grasping of its value — didn’t reach the public consciousness until 2010.
So 3-D printing is new to most people, and at first it can seem like science fiction. But you can get familiar with it by checking out the exhibition at the McDonough Museum, 525 Wick Ave., Youngstown.
It’s believed to be the first exhibition of its kind in the world, and it should draw crowds until it closes Aug. 2.
The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute — the organization tasked with spreading 3-D printing technology to the world — was founded in Youngstown last year, and that is what inspired museum director Leslie Brothers to assemble the exhibition.
Brothers said public curiosity is running high ever since an article on the exhibition appeared in Monday’s Vindicator.
Go to mcdonoughmuseum.ysu.edu for information.
YOUNGSTOWN WILL AGAIN HAVE AN IRISH FESTIVAL
The Mahoning Valley hasn’t had an Irish festival ever since the Gathering of the Irish Clans fizzled out. The last one was in 2010.
That hole in the summer ethnic festival calendar will be filled this summer.
The first Greater Youngstown Celtic Fest will be July 14, from 12:30 p.m. to about 10 p.m., on the grounds of St. Luke Catholic church, 5235 South Ave., Boardman.
It will feature live music all day, with The Shaffer Brothers, Dulahan, County Mayo and Seven Nations, performances by the Burke School of Irish Dance, food, beer and merchandise vendors.
Admission will be $5.
It’s an outdoor event, and because there is no seating, festivalgoers can bring lawn chairs or blankets.
St. Luke’s used to hold an annual parish festival, but stopped a couple of years ago.
The Celtic Fest will replace the traditional festival and also fill a need in the Valley, said chairman Bob Kelty.
HOWLAND NATIVE BEAGLE MAKES NEW YORK STAGE DEBUT
Howland native Nathan Beagle made his New York stage debut May 24 in a production of “Hamlet” produced by What Dreams May Co. at the 133rd Street Art Center.
Beagle, a graduate of Youngstown State University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, now lives in Astoria, Queens. He portrayed Osric and the Player King.
Beagle wasn’t the only Valley native on the stage. The title role was played by Jonathan Emerson, a Youngstown native and a theater professional in New York.
In addition to co-producing “Hamlet,” Emerson also serves as the artistic director of both the Queens Players, which is the resident acting company of the Secret Theater in Long Island City; and Queens Shakespeare, based in Queens and Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
MARSHALL SEWELL DIES; MEMBER OF THE EDSELS
Marshall Sewell, a member of the doo-wop group The Edsels which scored a big hit in 1961 with “Rama Lama Ding Dong,” died June 5 in Cleveland at age 75.
Sewell grew up in Campbell, where the Edsels were formed, and sang bass.
He later became a Cleveland police officer, a job he had for 32 years.
The former basketball player for Campbell Memorial High School was tall and slim, and his stature and presence were never diminished.
The Edsels never sustained the fame that came with their sole hit and broke up a few years later, but they did reunite a few times over the years.
The other members of the Edsels were George “Wydell” Jones, who died in 2008, Larry Green, Harry Green and James Reynolds, who still occasionally performs with his sons.
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH when it comes to live theater?
It’s mid-June, but theater season refuses to end. There are no fewer than eight plays and musicals being presented this weekend by area theater companies. That would be a lot in September.
There is “George Washington Slept Here” at the Youngstown Playhouse; “Boeing-Boeing” at New Castle Playhouse; “Honky Tonk Angels” at Trumbull New Theatre; “The Rainmaker” at The Victorian Players; “Godspell” at Stage Left Players; “The King and I” by Crown Productions at Main Street Theater in Columbiana; “Boy in a Kage” at Rust Belt; and “Les Miserables” by Spotlight Players at Salem Masonic Temple.
That’s a lot of slices for a small pie.