BAR HARBOR — The career and technical education department at Mount Desert Island High School has a new computer-controlled machine that quickly and precisely cuts metal for all sorts of uses.
Called a “plasma cutter,” it produces a narrowly focused flame that is forced by compressed air onto the material to be cut. The path of the flame is directed by a computer that can be programmed to achieve the desired result.
Technology teacher Chip Taylor said the new machine was installed in the metal-working shop in December.
“We try to update our shop areas each year with something that will help our kids with their advancement once they leave here,” he said. “We wanted to get into some things that led into the CNC (computer numeral control) planning field, laying something out on a computer and then seeing the result when it cuts.
“We have a lot of kids here who look at getting into engineering fields, and the more exposure we can give them to things they are going to see down the road the better.
“This plasma cutter makes everything more precise for kids who are doing projects, and they can do more in less time,” Taylor said. “As the kids are watching it cut, I can see the wheels in their head turning, thinking of projects they could do.”
The high school’s new plasma cutting machine cost just under $9,000 including shipping.
“We don’t normally make purchases of this magnitude,” Taylor said. “This piece was to bring us more up to date with technology in the working environment.”
He said he is grateful to the high school board and the community for supporting funding that allows the department to provide good quality, relevant equipment for students.