MakerBot Innovation Lab grand opening Oct. 22
Collaboration between the College of Communication and Fine Arts and the College of Education and Human Services will bring a 3D printing lab to Wightman Hall this semester.
The provost's office and deans from colleges contributed to the project, which was budgeted at $350,000. The MakerBot Center of Innovation will include 35 MakerBot 3D printers networked together in Wightman Hall Room 143. It will be the first lab of its kind at a public university in the Midwest, hosting a grand opening from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 22 with speakers at 1:15 p.m.
ART 397: Creation in 3D will be offered next spring, teaching students to utilize the lab to create 3D sculptures. An apparel and merchandising course, as well as an introductory graphic design course, will also utilize the printers.
“It is open to anybody,” said Art and Design Chairperson Larry Burditt. “If it becomes crowded we will have to do priority of the people who are CCFA and EHS students. But if there are engineering students who have files they want to print for class, I think that would be great.”
Students will be charged to use the 3D printers by the weight of their piece. Files are submitted in a different lab in Wightman that are connected to the MakerBot Lab, and must be in stl format. Burditt said there are some free programs available online that allows 3D design and stl file output like Tinkercad and Autodesk 123D.
“I think a lab of this size is kind of unique,” Burditt said. “I’m sure it’s going to be a little while before we have many classes where it’s used a lot, but I expect a few classes to have one project where they will use the lab.”
Hudsonville interior design major Marissa Martinie said somebody came into one of her classes to talk to them about the new 3D printing lab.
“(Interior design majors) could use the lab for some of our models if we’re educated on how to apply it and how to use the lab,” Martinie said.
She said in her program they make a lot of models of buildings and usually find cheap materials like cardboard and foam.
“With flexible materials you can take a wall off and manipulate and change the model,” the interior design major said. “I don’t know how it would work with the honeycomb plastic material used with 3D printers, but that might be an option for final models.”
College of Communication and Fine Arts Dean Janet Hethorn said technology is important to embrace in an academic setting.
“(Technology provides) important tools and they’re going to change quickly,” Hethorn said. “Who knows what we’re going to be replacing those with in a few years, there is always something, but the possibilities and exploring technology as it applies to its functions is huge. I’m a fan.”