3-D Printing Comes to Colgate

Hannah Fuchs

As result of a collaborative effort between the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Information Technology Services (ITS) department, the school has purchased a 3-D printer, The Makerbot Replicator 2.

A 3-D printer is a device that is used to create rapid prototype designs by overlaying multiple layers of very thin sheets of plastic.

Though currently factories and manufacturers primarily use these printers to prototype potential products, 3-D printers are expanding to other contexts, including college campuses.

“We reached out to a number of groups on campus, including Arts Initiative, Physics Club, Aviation Club and Entrepreneurship Club, all of which were very enthusiastic about the acquisition of the printer,” SGA ITS Policy Coordinator Viktor Mak said. 

Mak explained the printer would be especially valuable for entrepreneurs on campus, who could build prototypes of their products, as well as for arts and architecture students who could build various models.

Senior Daniel Swiecki, former president of the Finance Club, president of the Computer Science Club and member of the Budget Allocations Committee (BAC) was involved with bringing the printer to campus, and helped to pitch the idea to a wide range of people across campus.

“The printer gives all students the ability to think of an idea and turn it into a physical reality, and I think it’s extremely important for Colgate to provide students with the capability to realize their ideas,” Swiecki said.  “It is entirely feasible that students can prototype something on the printer and have it mass-produced in an industrial facility once the product is finalized.”

The printer has far-reaching applications. Russell Colgate Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy and Anthropology and Native American Studies Anthony Aveni has already used the device to create a model of an Aztec temple for his Astronomy and Culture class. The Colgate printer has also produced a topographical map of Hawaii, an iPhone case, the Colgate seal, a three-dimensional representation of a hypercube and elastic plastic bracelets.

“The 3-D printer will be very beneficial to any student who is interested in design because most design firms now use 3-D printing,” senior Jackie Ansell said. “Personally, I am interested in architecture, so it will be exciting to use the technology in model-making. A new course offered by Professor Shi in the Spring, ‘Digital Studio: Modeling/Gaming’, will focus on learning how to use the 3-D printer.”

“The idea is that the 3-D printer will be something that anyone can use if they are interested,” Mak said. “There is an easy software a person uses that walks you through the creation of a 3-D model, and there is even an iPhone app you can use.”

This printer, which currently sits in the ITS Lounge on the east side of the fourth floor of Case Library and Geyer Center for Information Technology, will move in roughly a month to its own designated room, likely on the fourth floor of the library. The printer will be accessible to all students who desire to use it, though students must participate in a brief training session to obtain ‘Gate Card access to the room.

Contact Hannah Fuchs at [email protected].