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The cutting edge

Inventor Lowell Schultz projects 3-D printer to be the next big thing

Created date

November 3rd, 2016
In the second bedroom/workshop of his Fallston-style apartment home at Ann’s Choice, Lowell Schultz displays his pride and joy, a 3-D printer.

In the second bedroom/workshop of his Fallston-style apartment home at Ann’s Choice, Lowell Schultz displays his pride and joy, a 3-D printer.

The 2,000-plus residents at Ann’s Choice, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Bucks County, Pa., are an active bunch. With more than 150 clubs and special interest groups, the community’s three clubhouses brim with activities and friendly neighbors.

Lowell Schultz is a resident who chases the future. 

When he and his wife Doris moved to Ann’s Choice four years ago from nearby Maple Glen, Lowell joined the campus woodshop. He also joined the Silent Flyers group of technology-savvy remote-control plane enthusiasts, many of whom fly drones.

Lowell was a neophyte pilot, but club members took him under their wings. Now he flies planes at least 30” long. 

Aeronautics represents just one of Lowell’s interests. From his workshop, the second bedroom of the Schultzes’ Fallston-style apartment home, he explores the worlds of imagination and twenty-first-century design, often through his 3-D printer.

Thinking in 3-D

A former Minnesota farm boy, Lowell grew up taking things apart and putting them back together.

He designed and fabricated much of the farm’s machinery. “I can look at something and grasp it,” he says. “I can understand how it was put together and how it works. And I can think in three dimensions.”

Lowell served in Germany with the Army Security Agency as a radio repairman. Then, using the GI Bill, he earned an electrical engineering degree. He worked as an electronics systems designer with Honeywell and was ultimately transferred to Pennsylvania.

In retirement, he returned to his Army work, repairing tube radios, 12 of which the Schultzes display in their home.

Lowell’s pride and joy is that 3-D printer. He’s amassed quite a collection of printed miniatures. 

“I’ve kept my brain busy all my life,” he says. “I bought the printer because it will be the thing in the near future, and I like to be on the cutting edge.” 

Starting with simple patterns downloaded from the Internet, Lowell quickly grasped how to design his own. He stores them on SD cards.

When he inserts a card into the printer, the printer begins layering one ultra-thin slice of plastic after another to turn pattern into reality.

Lowell is especially impressed by the intricacy of a scissor-jack pattern he downloaded and printed. A workable miniature-size car jack, Lowell considers it an engineering marvel. 

On his own, he designed and printed a tiny tool to replace the movement in a woman’s wristwatch.

Then he designed a pattern for a workable miniature air compressor complete with cylinder, piston, crankshaft, connecting rod, intake and exhaust valves. 

“I wanted to design something that would turn or crank,” says Lowell. “Mainly I wanted to see if I could do it.” 

Still, “There’s always more to learn,” he adds. And Ann’s Choice gives him freedom and opportunities to do that.

He and Doris attend on-campus lectures by university professors and other experts at Ann’s Choice Lifelong Learning Academy programs. They belong to the computer club and take day trips with the travel club.

“I’ve never had a boring day,” says Lowell.