Students’ imagination run free with new 3D printers in Hunter Library

3D printer for student use in 3DU section of the library.

3D printer for student use in 3DU section of the library.

Nicholas Black produced the multimedia segment in the story. 

WCU kicked off a new technological era, 3D printing in the Technology Commons of the Hunter Library in the fall semester and the students took notice.

Having a 3D printer at WCU is a big development for the university, with 3D printing being at the peak of new technology excitement globally.

According to Mark Stoffan, Head, Digital, Access, and Technology Services, 3D printing on campus started as a way to gain digital literacy for students, teaching students new technology and how to use it, just as students were taught programs such as Microsoft.

Through a grant called Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Grant for $48,000, WCU’s four 3D printers, as well as five monitors, a document scanner, a flat bed scanner, and a touch screen kiosk were all brought to campus.

According to the Technology Commons’ website, 3D printing is the process of making three-dimensional objects from a digital file, students can use this printer for classes, projects, homework, or what ever else they would like.

See the video story.

The Technology Commons has a strict policy where the workers can decide what is and what is not appropriate for students to print, objects such as guns will get denied printing.
The material the printers make the objects with are called filaments, WCU’s printers have two main filaments that are used to print called High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) and Polylactic Acid (PLA).
The two filaments have different purposes, HIPS being more for structure and practical use, and PLA being more for details.

3D printer in IT office works to print an object for student.

3D printer in IT office works to print an object for student.

The printers print in many different colors such as purple, blue, orange, yellow, green, and even a glow in the dark option that prints a white-silver color but glows green in the dark.
The fee varies on what the students print, bigger objects that weigh more cost more money, but the price is 10 cents a gram.
All proceeds and money that is made through 3D printing, goes back to buying new filaments to print with, new future printers, and paying to fix the printers if one breaks or malfunctions.

WCU students are excited about the new development on campus, saying they want to print things such as a phone case, jewelry, mugs, and even presents off their Christmas lists.

So far the most popular object that have been printed on campus have been Starwars and Pokémon related, such as the characters from Pokémon as figurines, as well as the characters and space shuttles from Star Wars.

A lot of students use the printer for projects in their classes as well as for their own personal enjoyment.
Professors also utilize the printers, with one Anthropology professor printing off samples of bones for a class.

The printing has been nonstop since the beginning according to Technology Support Technician, Ryan Cameron.
“We have been printing 24/7, as of today (Monday Nov. 30) we have 19 things waiting to be printed and three currently being printed,” Cameron added.

The printing process is first come first serve, the students who enter their prints first have it done first, as well as what color is currently being used in the printer.

Stoffan hopes that this is not the end of new technology on campus, stating that plans are beginning to be made to expand technology, making recommendations to the senate on campus.