On-campus Makerspace Brings Ideas to Life
Makerspace, a 3D-printing lab housed in the Drake Memorial Library, inspires creation and innovation among the campus community.
From measuring cups to cameras, from chess pieces to prosthetic legs, the Makerspace in the Drake Memorial Library at The College at Brockport asks the campus community, "What can you bring from an idea to a physical reality?"
Systems and Assessment Librarian Ken Wierzbowski manages the Makerspace, which holds three 3D printers, a 3D scanner, a laser-cutter engraver, and several other 3D creation process tools.
"If it's a product of creation and imagination, the Makerspace is the place to get access to the tools and equipment to produce it," said Wierzbowski.
Makerspace is available to anyone on campus for free use. Since the space was introduced to the College in summer 2013, students, faculty, and staff have collectively 3D-printed more than 400 items — some fun and many educational. Users can design their own 3D models to be produced in the Makerspace using free software such as Tinkercad, Autodesk123D, and SketchUp. Thousands of free, existing designs are also available online for instant download.
"Academic libraries are no longer just a place where we house information, but where people come and actually create new information," said Senior Assistant Librarian Laura Dumuhosky. "The Makerspace gives people the opportunity to create something new out of the information they already have, which is what scholarship really is."
Last year, Dumuhosky and Wierzbowski collaborated with Associate Professor of English Megan Norcia to guide an assignment for her Children's Literature class in which students were prompted to analyze an object from a novel using library technology. Dumuhosky helped the students research the historical and cultural context of their objects, while Wierzbowski helped 3D-print them.
"The project not only represented a chance for strategic, inter-professional collaboration — using talents from across campus — but it also provided a high-impact learning experience for students and gave them a tangible product to demonstrate their intellectual labors," said Norcia. "Often, the work of the humanities is invisible because there are no smoking beakers or glowing lasers. This was a fun and engaging way to display their research and close-reading skills as well as introduce them to 3D technology."
Senior English major Ashley Farley printed a pocketwatch on a chain to represent a "significant object" in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Other objects printed included a teacup from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the silver shoes from The Wizard of Oz, the rat named "Scabbers" from Harry Potter, and the broomstick from The Magic Bed-Knob.
The Makerspace also has been utilized to create 3D replicas of art students' designs in alternate sizes and materials. Wierzbowski has been brainstorming with professors about potential applications in physics and chemistry classrooms and labs. He also hopes to introduce a sewing machine to the space that can be used for prop and costume design for the Department of Theatre and Music Studies.
Clayton Goodridge, a senior studying software development, is a student employee in the Makerspace, currently utilizing the 3D printer to create a 3' x 2.5' LED arch that can be used to evenly illuminate workspaces. The finished product will be made from approximately 15 parts — pieced together with hot glue and arranged to hold a light strip — and will require at least 75 hours of printing.
Goodridge plans to use the Makerspace to eventually 3D-print pieces needed to assemble a prosthetic leg for someone in need.
"Prosthetics are fairly expensive, but printing one piece by piece in the Makerspace may only cost between $50 and $100," said Goodridge.
Campus photographer and photography major Matthew Yeoman was one of the first individuals to utilize the Makerspace. He 3D-printed the shell of a camera, pictured above, that operates using a pinhole and 4" x 5" film holder.
I, too, had a chance to utilize the Makerspace to create an object useful for my work. As a writer for the College, I am frequently running around with a notebook and pen — and often losing track of the latter. Using the 3D printer, I created a notebook clip customized to fit my favorite style of pen. Below, see the time lapse of the creation process, which took just under an hour.
Interested in bringing an idea to life? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with details about your project to set up an appointment. While all ideas are welcome, first priority is given to scholarly usage. What will you make?