Tag Archives: 3D printing

Strategic Plan in Action: 3D printing

3D printing, or additive manufacturing, has grown from a small scale novelty of engineers to a ubiquitous technology approaching affordability for anyone. You may see 3D printed objects included in arts and crafts, used to repair appliances and other household hardware, and even as parts of the car you drive.

3D printing can involve plastic, metal, or even living cells. The “additive” part of additive manufacturing means layers of material are slowly deposited on top of each other until a 3D object is produced.  These are “printed” from a 3D computer model, which can be created from simple shapes or a complex CAD drawing. Penn State graduates use 3D printing in their jobs
from Boeing aircraft to local manufacturing to high-tech startup companies.

Students are learning both the software and hardware skills in courses offered by the Colleges of Engineering, Liberal Arts, and many more.  In the past only architecture and engineering students had access to 3D printing for specific courses, but thanks to a partnership between the Libraries and ITS, it is available to all students, staff, and faculty.

The Maker Commons, located at University Park in Pattee Library’s Knowledge Commons, has been offering free 3D printing since the Spring of 2016. It serves all Penn State campuses through an online submission form and delivery throughout the state through our lending services.

The Strategic Planning Action Team of Joe Fennewald, Ryan Wetzel, Trace Brown, and John
Meier have tracked the successes and challenges of the Maker Commons and other makerspaces across the University Libraries.

Since its launch just over a year ago, the Maker Commons has produced over 2,000 objects per semester from the 32 MakerBot printers on site. The success rate of these prints has improved from 70% to 90%, through changes including a weight limit for non-class projects. Almost half of the printouts each semester are for class-specific assignments from the Colleges of IST, Engineering, Arts and Architecture, and EMS. There were also a number of classes from Commonwealth Campuses using the Maker Commons for student projects.

Indeed, 3D printing and scanning technology have a large and growing presence throughout the Libraries.  In the Spring of 2017, the Harrell Health Sciences Library in Hershey dedicated its renovated Research and Learning Commons with twin 3D printers, virtual reality headsets, and other new technology.

Penn State Wilkes-Barre has offered free 3D printing to their local campus community since 2015.  Penn State Hazleton Library has offered 3D printing and makerspace programs since 2014 in conjunction with course curricula and campus activities.  Penn State Mont Alto Library also has a 3D resin printer from Formlabs. Penn State Schuylkill Library has a 3D printer (MakerBot 5th generation replicator) as well as a NextEngine 3D scanner. The Engineering
Library at University Park has a portable 3D scanner to create models of real
world objects.

Other Commonwealth Campuses and University Park branch libraries are exploring possible makerspaces tailored to their unique user needs.  The Maker Commons is also constantly improving their procedures for faster output and more efficient use of material. We are “making” the future at Penn State in the University Libraries.

– submitted by John Meier

Hazleton Library acquires a new 3D printer from FormLabs

new FormLabs 3D printer at Hazleton Campus Library

After much research and discussion with vendors, the Hazleton Campus Library decided to purchase an advanced high-resolution desktop 3D printer from FormLabs at the end of the fall 2016 semester. Erik Angel, Penn State Hazleton Library Staff member, initiated this collaborative partnership between University Libraries and the Hazleton Campus. The FormLabs 3D printer is unique at Penn State University as it utilizes stereolithography printing (resin-based) instead of using the more traditional plastic filament (PLA/ABS). Stereolithography converts a liquid resin material into a solid permanent state by exposing it to laser light over a period of time. The advantages of using a resin-based 3D printer include flexibility of materials (e.g. castable resin, clear resin for optics, and higher print quality), less support structure, a lower print failure rate, and an immediate print failure notification.

FormLabs was a startup company created in 2011 by a group of individuals from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With the help of the KickStarter crowdsourcing platform the Form1 3D printer was made a reality with the goal of creating an affordable desktop 3D printer using stereolithography. In September 2015, the company announced the new Form2 3D printer which offered many new features and abilities (e.g. wifi/Bluetooth, touchscreen, larger build volume, and a new resin cartridge design).

The Hazleton Library began discussing cost-sharing possibilities with campus faculty members Dr. Joseph Ranalli, engineering, and Dr. David Starling, physics. With the use of a Hazleton Campus Butler Grant and University Libraries funds, the new printer was ordered before the start of the spring 2017 semester and immediately put into service.

Currently the printer is being used by students, faculty and staff for many projects. Some examples of these projects are pictured in the gallery above and new projects are listed on the Hazleton Library Facebook page.

More information about the Form2 3D printer can be found at Formlabs.com.

– submitted by Erik Angel, Hazleton Library