Printing in 3D: Coming to Paradise Canyon Near You

Frank and Camille Paton with Computer Lab Specialist Dennis Carreon and Director of Technology Jamie Lewsadder

The PCY computer lab is home to a brand new 3D printer, thanks to the Paton Group, a local company that specializes in distributing cutting edge technology tools to educational organizations.

Company owner Frank Paton along came to PCY during the fall semester to talk to students about 3D printers and all the ways they can be used. He and Gary Culper, a Makerbot specialist, shared examples of how doctors, artists, engineers, and even scientists at nearby JPL are using 3D printers to develop their work. His presentation made a lasting impression on PCY fifth graders who later wrote him individual thank you notes, full of questions about 3D printing technology, ideas for its use, wishes to have one at PCY, and hopes that he could return to talk about it more.

Frank decided it was high time that PCY had access to one of these amazing machines.

This spring, Paton Group donated a Makerbot Mini, an excellent choice since, as Frank explained, this particular model was designed by a teacher. Frank Paton and his sister Camille Paton, Director of Marketing and Social Media, returned to PCY to celebrate with students and show just a few examples of what different 3D printers can do.

First, he passed around a 3D printed kidney. The outside was clear, allowing students to see the different parts inside including a stone. He explained that doctors are now able to scan organs with intricate problems, print them, and hold them in their hands to perform a better examination. “The doctors at UC Irvine bought a printer from us, and after you take a MRI of the kidney, you can print it out and see the stone inside. That’s just one idea of how to use these in medicine. They use them at JPL, as well. It all starts here.” He also passed around a prosthetic plastic arm, a replica of coral reef, and a miniature model of a castle, which is similar to pieces animators use while making movies or designers use to make toys.

Giving this gift to PCY was a proud moment for both Frank and Camille; after all, they grew up in La Canada too! Camille went to PCY, LCE and later, LCHS, while Frank went to to LCE, Foothill Intermediate School, and LCHS. Their father started the family business over thirty years ago, and now, they run it, along with Frank’s partner Chris Miller. “Primarily, we’ve been working at high schools and universities like UCLA and USC, but the bar is being raised to get the technology to the middle schools and elementary schools,” explained Frank, “Why leave them out? Now we create Fab Labs and Maker Stations.”

Now, PCY students can use this innovative technology to print tangible models of designs they create using their computer skills as well as traditional concepts learned in the classroom.

As described by Camille, “I think it touches every aspect of life, medicine, art, design, and science, and it’s reaching the younger grades, which is exciting. It’s not theoretical anymore, it’s an actual design.”

Mr. Carreon, PCY’s computer lab specialist, can’t help but be excited. “It opens up more possibilities for students to use what they’re learning in the classroom. They can learn about volume and height, and at the same time, use something fun. It’s real world solutions being solved. This has brought 21st century tools into the classroom.

In order to incorporate 3D printing technology into his lessons, he’s designed a plan to prepare the students to use such a special piece of equipment. “I have to build up their skills first. They have to learn to use the software, and I have to make sure they have the basic math skills that are required to use this. Once I’m confident that everyone understands how to navigate it, then we’ll design some home items.”

Congratulations, PCY, on receiving such an innovative piece of technology, and thank you to the Paton Group, for this very generous donation that will no doubt be printing some amazing designs by students very soon!

Paradise Canyon Elementary School, 471 Knight Way, La Cañada, (818) 952-8340 or visit





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