Students at Bemidji High School are bringing their designs to life by printing them in 3-D.

They are printing their designs with a printer that builds 3-D plastic models layer by layer from the bottom up.

The uPrint 3-D printer arrived at the high school March 16 on loan from First Technologies. It is being used in three of David Gooch's classes: Computer Aided Drafting and Project Lead the Way's Introduction to Engineering Design and Principles of Engineering.

Students in the CAD class have designed small race cars and wheels on a computer, and then sent the images of the wheels to the 3-D printer.

The printer builds models and their support material on a removable modeling base. Once the models are built and removed from the base, they are placed in a hot water bath to dissolve the support material attached to it. Then, the models are ready to be used.

Besides printing their wheels on the 3-D printer, the students are using their race car designs to build carbon dioxide-powered race cars from wood. Then, they will attach the wheels to their race cars, which they will race in class Friday.

Along with her wheels, one student, senior Serena Glass, also printed her race car on the 3-D printer. She will race her car - complete with the wheels - at Tech Challenge April 9 at Bemidji State University.

Gooch said having the 3-D printer in his classroom has provided a whole new level of learning for students.

One of the benefits, he said, is that building models with the 3-D printer allows the students to see any defects in their design and improve on those.

Junior Sonny Knox made wheels for his race car and printed them on the 3-D printer in the CAD class.

"It's cool because I designed them myself and they came out perfect," he said.

Before the students had access to a 3-D printer, they could only view their designs in 3-D form on the computer.

"But now with this we can actually make the stuff we make on the computer and actually put it to use," freshman Craig Lindseth said.

"It's cool how it builds it," junior Stiina Stocker said.

One day, she said, the wheel she was designing was simply a drawing. The next day, she said, she could hold it in her hand.

"It was pretty cool just to see it come to life," she said.