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Libraries Event Showcases 3D Work Across Campus

Three-dimensional information was the topic of conversation at 3D at Drexel: Imaging, Designing, and Printing, an event hosted by Drexel University Libraries on Wednesday, June 5, 2013. Over 50 students, faculty and staff attended the lunch-time session.

“The Libraries recently acquired a Makerbot 3D printer,” said dean of libraries, Danuta A. Nitecki, “thinking that we could add it to the copiers and scanners available for students and faculty use. However, we quickly realized that although it may soon be a common device, there are many individuals who are not familiar enough with the technology to use it effectively. Working with a committee of faculty, the Libraries conceived and launched an event series to demystify 3D printing and make it more available for students in disciplines that wouldn’t normally have access to this type of technology. For example, let’s see how it might stimulate thinking in three dimensions for those studying literature, chemistry or sociology.”

Three Drexel faculty members presented research at the event, showcasing different ways that they have utilized three-dimensional information in their teaching and research. Together they illustrated just a few of the numerous issues to be considered in preparing a three dimensional “print.”

Kenneth Lacovara, an associate professor in the department of biodiversity, earth and environmental science, began the presentation with a discussion about the opportunities that 3D printing provides to produce small-scale models of large and cumbersome fossils. Reduced scale 3D printing allows him to bring objects to the classroom to explore movement and anatomy of long extinct creatures. Lacovara has helped students use 3D scanning to create digital replications of fossils and develop animations of creatures to see how they might have looked and moved.

Nicole Koltick, an assistant professor in the department of architecture and interiors, followed, providing unique applications for 3D printing in the realm of architecture and interiors with focus on materials used. Koltick described how her students have used 3D printers to build custom pieces for creative and unique projects and designs. Her students also utilize 3D printing to create miniature models of larger scale products to test for potential installation problems. The medium they use to print is environmentally friendly and can breakdown in as little as six months.

The final presentation was from Genevive Dion, the director of the Shima Seiki Haute Technology Laboratory at Drexel. Dion works with sewing machines that stich three-dimensional objects. Recently, she helped to build a protective padded cloth cover for the Hubo robots, and she is currently working with researchers to develop a maternity band that will monitor fetal activity.

The event showcased a wide breadth of Drexel three-dimensional research and projects. Future events will continue the conversation of how three-dimensional information and tools to create three-dimensional objects may be used in higher education.

For more information about the Libraries 3D printer, please contact John Wiggins at jww27@drexel.edu. To join the mailing list to receive information about future 3D at Drexel events and initiatives, please contact libraries@drexel.edu.

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