3D Printing is Coming to Snell Library!

This fall, the Digital Media Commons at Snell Library will be home to a new studio with 3D printers, 3D scanners, and more. 3D printing, or “additive manufacturing,” is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital model. The technology involves using additive processes where objects are created from adding layers of materials and is being used to make all kinds of products in different fields, from medicine to engineering to retail. The new 3D studio will be accessible to everyone across campus, too, so you’ll be able to learn about 3D printing and try it out for yourself. More information on how you’ll be able to do that is coming soon. While Northeastern has already been active in the 3D printing world, bringing this technology into Snell Library now will make this cutting-edge technology available to the whole community. In recent years, several colleges and departments have added in 3D printers and faculty, staff, and students have been working on 3D projects. Just today, for example, the news @ Northeastern has a 3Qs with Constantinos Mavroidis, a professor in engineering, talking about his work in bringing 3D printing to biomedical research.

ANA figure

An ANA print-out. 
Another Northeastern 3D project, called ANA, is particularly interesting. ANA prints physical 3D objects that store information via alphanumeric text. You can type text into ANA’s website and the text is coded into the printed object, making the object a storage tool for information. The result of a capstone project, ANA was created by visiting professor Janos Stone who partnered with Sia Mohammadalipoor, a mathematics PhD candidate; Michael Godlewski, an undergraduate senior in Digital Art and Interactive Media; Stephen J Elliott, an undergraduate senior in Programming and Computer Science; and Hooman Javaheri, a PhD candidate in Computer Science. As you might be able to tell from the varying backgrounds of the ANA creators, an important part of 3D printing at Northeastern is the emphasis on interdisciplinary applications. At the new Snell Library 3D studio, 3D printing, as well as other new technologies, will be woven not only into engineering and the sciences, but design and the arts as well. This is one of the reasons the facility at Snell Library will be unique–it will be a resource for everyone on campus and not be restricted to a particular major or grade level.
Looking beyond Northeastern, universities around the world have started to use 3D printing to do a number of cool things. Computer scientists at Harvard are conducting research on how to make 3D printing useful for artists and animators, and in one case, developing software for printing 3D action figures from digital animation files. They’re basically creating a software tool that translates 3D animations into fully articulated action figures(!).
Case Western Reserve University has opened a space for the new technology called Think[box] where 3D printers, laser cutters, and other tools are available for students’ use, and Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand also opened a 3D Model Workshop equipped with metalwork and woodwork machines.

Over the course of the summer and into the fall semester we’ll have more information up about what will be available in the 3D studio at Snell and how you can get involved, but the first step is to think up ideas for what you want to 3D print—what will you create?

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