By: Jess Larkin ~Copy Editor~
Xavier joins a growing number of colleges in the United States as the first Midwestern and private university to include 3D printers on campus.
The Makerbot Innovation Center, working with the new Center for Innovation, now includes 31 Makerbot Replicator 3D Printers, including three Makerbot Z18 printers, three Makerbot Mini printers and three Makerbot Digitizers.
These readily available printers allow students to encounter a new technology that has been increasingly implemented in the workplace as a means for constructing prototypes and products in a more cost-efficient way. The convenience of these printers also allows students the chance to work closely with researchers and entrepreneurs to innovate and create.
Specific courses offered at Xavier already employ the printers in the syllabus. The Introduction to Making course, taught by Dr. Gary Lewandowski, cooperates with a marketing class to promote products developed by the printer.
“Having 3D printers on campus will help our students be ready for a future in which creating will be a daily part of their work and in which they will be creating their own products and their own jobs,” Lewandowski said in an email.
Students will also use printers in STEM enrichment activities that are conducted by the Noyce Teacher Scholarship program, a five-year program focusing on service-centered implementation of science, math and technology. STEM activities will work in conjunction with Breakthrough Cincinnati, which expands educational opportunities for middle school students.
The printers will be beneficial for students across a diverse number of disciplines, including physics, Montessori education and theater.
Senior Alana Yurczyk had the opportunity to put this technology to the test and printed her set designs using the 3D printer. Yurczyk and Dave Zlatic, the technical director of the Gallagher Student Center Theatre, worked with the technology for almost 20 hours over two days, learning how to use the MakerBot system and the printers.
“Now that I know the technology pretty well and understand the process, I anticipate it not taking that long again,” Yurczyk said. “This is a huge contrast to the way I have done scale models for set designs in the past. I made these out of foam poster board and cardstock paper and they would take about 25 hours of labor. Since I couldn’t do anything else during the time I was making these, the prospect of being able to simply print out these items is really amazing.”
With more innovative studies on campus, these printers will give students the chance to apply their creativity and ready them for innovating in the workplace.
The printers will also be available to outside businesses and community members.
“We hope (the printers) will become a resource for our university community and the communities in which we participate,” Lewandowski said. “We would like to be good partners with our neighbors, helping translate ideas into reality.