Students and staff take 3D printing to a new level

Western Carolina University’s Technology Commons in the Hunter Library started a new technological era with 3D printing in Oct. 2015. Since then the students and staff have been very creative.

Staff member Daniel Huss printed pieces to make a metal/wood engraver. Photo by Meghan O'Sullivan

Staff member Daniel Huss printed pieces to make a metal/wood engraver. Photo by Meghan O’Sullivan.

According to Mark Stoffan, head of Digital Access and Technology Services, students have been printing some interesting things and a number of faculty have used the printers for instruction.

“The 3D printing itself has been extremely popular, being used for both class assignments as well as student independent work and interests,” Stoffan said.

The printing is cheap – only 10 cents a gram, with all of the money made going back to the printers for equipment and filaments. The printers are available for everyone to use. Both students and faculty have created many original ideas and gone above and beyond a simple figurine or key-chains.

Stoffan says the purpose for having these 3D printers in the library is to gain and influence digital literacy for students and faculty on campus, by using the printers for classes and teaching.

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

Since the beginning of the printing era, around 190 prints have been completed by students and faculty at WCU.

IT support technician, Ryan Cameron, says the investment to get the 3D printers on WCUs campus was definitely worth it.

“This (3D printing) is the direction we see things moving in the future with technology, preparing students with digital literacy and preparing them to use future technology is worth the investment,” said Cameron.


See how two students, Jacob Lambert and Justin Aponte, as well as WCU staff member, Daniel Huss use the 3D printer.