3D printers a push towards innovation


Haljit BasueljevicReporter

Malleable filament. Complex, sculpted figurines. The library re-imagined.

Buley’s 3D printers exposes the various creative possibilities students can gain in a competitive world.

Professor of sculpture Jeff Slomba figures for teaching art, emerging technology has become a necessity. He finds that the printers provide a useful model for students to understand the structure and design of their work, allowing them to build ideas off of them.

However, this does not mean the machine will do everything for them.

“Once students have a couple of projects under their belt…then we introduce the AutoCAD tools,” said Slomba who compared the use of software tools to digital photography. This means the principles of designs are still mainly about, but not limited to, traditional ceramic sculpting.

Watching a plastic sculpture emerge from the hot, tiny slices can take up over an hour. Add this to the fact that many of the MakerBot’s, a type of 3D printer, can only print in what is considered prototypical projects, ones lacking in detailed resolution.

Slomba said because of these limitations, he likes to keep the prints relatively moderate in size.

Systems Librarian Parker Fruehan operates a research guide and submission form through a website titled Thingiverse, which allows students to have their designs printed. He said students can choose from designs ranging from pre-made to custom built. Since it may take a while based off the number of submissions, students are asked to wait a few days.

Students can attend a workshop hosted by Fruehan and other faculty members to learn more. There, he will showcase the nuances and guide them through a tour of how 3D software works.

Director of Buley Library Clara Ogbaa said she wants to continue pushing the university to be more interested in cutting-edge technology like 3D printers.

“My goal as the new director is to enhance that area. People are doing what they call now AR, VR, and MR [Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality]”, said Ogbaa.

Her reformation of what a library looks like is based on the idea that creative exploration should flourish upon campus. Libraries are not just columns of books nor mere rows of computers, she stated.

Her belief is that for any student to receive the best education, they must be prepared to compete with other schools who will graduate with 3D software and other various abilities under their belt.

Although funding is always an obstacle, Ogbaa stated she is open to more suggestions on how to make the library more focused on giving students the best resources.

Photo Credit: Haljit Basuljevic

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