Students at Missouri University of Science and Technology now have access to two new 3-D printers at the school’s Curtis Laws Wilson Library. The Missouri S&T information technology department purchased the Stratasys uPrint SE and SE Plus printer systems to make the technology affordable and available for all students.
“We do have a number of 3-D printers in labs on campus, but these are the first to be available for any student to use,” says Greg Smith, chief information officer at Missouri S&T. “We’re looking to break even on materials costs and absorb other costs.”
The printers can create complex 3-D shapes using layers of plastic filament. Specifications come from modeling software or from the scan of an existing object. The printers can produce models of up to 8-by-8-by-6 inches in nine colors.
Using another 3-D printer on campus, a student recently created a smartphone cover with the Missouri S&T logo by altering a free design from the website Thingiverse.com.
“Something like that smartphone cover would print for less than $5,” says Cathy Allison, project manager for the effort. “It takes less than two hours to print and you can get very creative with it. And the final product is very durable.”
David Esping, manager of customer technical support and a member of Allison’s team, says he looks forward to seeing what designs students come up with. “I can’t wait to see their creativity,” he says. “It will be fun to see them go beyond their class or lab — to see some of our students’ brilliance shine.”
The IT department is partnering with the Wilson Library to create a remodeled design area next to the library’s Starbucks coffee shop.
“We are revamping all the technology with high-powered computers and all the software and tools students will need,” says Allison.
“Students will literally be able to sit down, design something, print it and have coffee while they wait,” adds Esping.