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TFDL installs 3D printer in Digital Media Commons

By Babur Ilchi, September 25 2014 —

The Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL) has a new 3D printer in the Digital Media Commons (DMC) on the third floor.

The printer, the MakerBot Replicator 2, was purchased in May. The Replicator was funded through a $2,000 Quality Money grant, funding from administration divvied up by the Students’ Union.

Since it was installed, DMC staff have familiarized themselves with the printer in time for the new semester.

“Anybody can have something printed,” said DMC manager Dylan Tetrault. “People can submit print job requests from the [library’s] webpage and then we will print it for them for a small fee.”

Printing costs $0.15 per gram of material plus a $1 setup fee per item. The average size of objects runs around 10–20 grams. The maximum size that can be printed is 284x154x152 millimetres, which is a little larger than an iPad.

The material used in the printer is known as polylactic acid, a biodegradable plastic from vegetables.

There are restrictions on what you can print, including copyrighted items and weapons.

Tetrault said he hopes average students without access to the U of C’s other 3D printers use the one in the DMC.

“There are many 3D printers on campus in different labs and faculties in use for their research or teaching purposes,” Tetrault said. “The library is really the great equalizer. Our whole mandate is to give access to everybody.”

The DMC plans to introduce a new 3D scanner, which can analyze an object, get its dimensions, then replicate it.


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