3D Printing Assessment

completed August 2011

Did you know that 3D printing technology is available on campus?

You might be asking, "What is 3D printing?" 3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing technology. In this case, a three dimensional object is created from a digital model by laying down successive layers of material, such as plastic, metal, and even cupcake icing. Product engineers use this technology to create prototypes of parts with different mechanical and physical properties in a single build process. 3D printers are located at the Product Realization Lab (PRL). The PRL is a teaching facility located in the Huang Engineering Center and is associated with Mechanical Engineering department. The PRL is available for student use only; it’s a place where students freely try out new ideas and concepts and bring them to life using the 3D printer.

The Emerging Technologies Team (ETT) recently explored this technology and its usefulness in SULAIR. 3dPrinter.jpg We found many potential uses in different areas of the organization, such as Engineering, Chemistry, Earth Science, Art, and Special Collections. However, after further research, the team decided not to recommend the use of 3D printing in SULAIR. The PRL has built a service model around this technology that is not easily replicable in the libraries. We do not currently have the infrastructure, staffing, or budget to recreate such an environment for students to do the same in the libraries. We are planning to work with PRL staff to see how the libraries can help support this wonderful service they have for the students.

If you would like to read more about 3D printing, use the following links to obtain more information:

About Emerging Technologies Team (ETT)
The ETT is composed of SULAIR staff from different departments in the organization whose mission is to identify, pilot, evaluate and recommend new/emerging technologies in support of research, teaching and learning in library environments. The team meets regularly to discuss the feasibility of implementing new/emerging technology. We obtain information about technology through various tech websites, periodicals, newspapers, and by word-of-mouth. We would like to hear from you. If you have any suggestions about new/emerging technology (hardware or software) that might work in SULAIR, write to us at sultechteam@lists.stanford.edu.