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