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Public-private partnership pushes '3-D printing'
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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A New York college and business leaders said Thursday that they are creating a program to train people to operate in the burgeoning field of three-dimensional printing.

The so-called 3-D printing program was announced at the State University of New York at New Paltz.

It would lead to the first certificate program in the state in the high-technology field in which medical devices, machinery, toys and other products can be manufactured quickly. The process turns digital models on computer screens into three-dimensional solid objects using plastics and other materials.

The growing field is credited with recently saving a baby's life by allowing the speedy manufacturing of medical devices to keep his air passages open, and NASA is exploring ways of using 3-D printing to provide food to astronauts. It's also used for customized toys, medical implants on demand, and lightweight aircraft parts.

A total of $1 million is being devoted to the public-private partnership. Ulster County businessman Sean Eldridge, who is considering a run for Congress in 2014, announced he is donating $250,000, his Hudson River Ventures is investing $500,000, and the New York Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. will give $250,000 for the program that will provide instruction and equipment for students at SUNY New Paltz.

The state-of-the-art facility will be called the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center at SUNY New Paltz and community colleges will also benefit from the training and equipment.

"We will have the equipment, the training, and the investment needed to lead the charge on 3-D printing," Eldridge said.

Area businesses will be able to rent the equipment.

Donald P. Christian, president of SUNY New Paltz, said "3-D printing provides a great opportunity for SUNY New Paltz to build on our strengths in the arts and in engineering and technology." He said 3-D printing "shows so much promise for our students and for economic development in the Hudson Valley and New York."

The project was announced at the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation's "Next Big Thing" breakfast series at the university.

"These educational and business initiatives in a growing technological field will enhance manufacturing opportunity both locally and throughout the Hudson Valley," said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein.

The commercial enterprise linked to a college or university is the type of operation Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to encourage with his proposed tax-free zones. Cuomo wants to offer start-up companies associated with higher education programs the ability to operate tax free for 10 years if they create new jobs.

The proposal is being negotiated with legislative leaders.