Printing in the Third Dimension

You can now print in 3D at the Olin Library.

The new Ultimaker 3D printer transforms digital designs into physical objects. (Video by Scott Cook and Jennifer DeWitt)

Anyone in the Rollins community can now transform digital designs into physical objects, thanks to a new 3D printer.

Last Thursday, for example, during an event showcasing the new Ultimaker 3D printer in action, a miniature Cylon Raider spaceship from the sci-fi show Battlestar Galactica was created.

Chief Information Officer Pat Schoknecht says many other colleges have 3D printers, but they tend to be kept in places where few people have access to them. “What makes us different is that we are going to put it out there in a public location and encourage people to use it,” she says.

Technical Support Specialist and 3D printer guru Joe Tsotsos says the Ultimaker is one of the larger, faster, and more detailed printers on the market. And because it’s compatible with Macs, PCs, and Linux operating systems, there are thousands of free, downloadable designs hosted on sites like available to anyone who has an interest in using the device. Users can also create their own digital designs with free tools like Google Sketchup.

“Having a 3D printer for anyone to use is an experiment to see how faculty and students use the technology,” Tsotsos says.

Have an interest in bringing your designs into the physical realm? Check out the 3D printer in Olin Library’s Center for Creativity.