Accessible 3D Printing Resources for Student Exploration, Discovery, and Inventorship
To remain globally competitive and encourage action based learning, students are not only expected to understand concepts but apply them to real-world scenarios and improve upon them. Often this requires the “making” of objects for the purpose of prototyping function, improving communication of complex concepts, or serving as the end product. The advancement of computer-based design technologies has made the development of complex designs easier for students and educators, but the skills needed to realize it in physical form would be a tremendous distraction from the design process effectively limiting the number of revisions made and even whether certain concepts are considered. 3D Printing (3DP), a low cost form of Additive Manufacturing, works towards reducing the disconnect between digital design and the building of physical prototypes by allowing the student to “print” their 3D object.
Leveraging existing spaces and expertise within the Library, namely the UM3D Lab, we propose to purchase several low-cost 3D printers and offer them to the U-M community as an extension of existing services focusing primarily on an open access, hands-on model targeted at student users. The proposed “3DPrint Pods” will be located in multiple highly visible and accessible areas with an additional printer configured for checkout and live classroom demonstrations. Through our efforts we aim to develop a sustainable ubiquitous 3D Printing service model suitable for classrooms and public spaces that not only facilitates but encourages exploration, innovation, and the creation of new knowledge.
Shawn O’Grady, Res. Specialist, 3D Lab, MLibrary; Eric Maslowski, Lab Manager, 3D Lab, Mlibrary; Michael Umbriac, Lecturer 3, Mechanical Engineering