OIT gains 3D printing technology for campus

Story by Sarah LeBlanc

Photo by Larissa Wurm

DSC_0017Drake University has a new asset on campus: the three-dimensional printer.

Two 3D printers are confirmed on Drake’s campus.

These machines have the capacity to take a digital file of “a three-dimensional product and render it using physical materials,” said educational technologist Jerel Krueger.

While Krueger notes that these advanced printers on campus print objects made of extruded plastic, currently, other machines have the ability to print from bronze, steel and even organic materials.

The 3D printer has created a category of its own.

“3D printing has the potential to be the next defining technology” in society, allowing us to “do the same thing with objects that the Internet lets us do with data,” Krueger said.

Jerome Hilshcer, learning technology specialist in the Office of Information and Technology department (OIT), explains the printer as device with the ability to take “something that’s theoretical and making it practical, something you can touch and hold.”

According to Krueger, 3D printing is just entering a golden age of applications within education and even potentially domestic uses in the home.

The 3D printer has become a device of the Maker Movement, Hilshcer says, in which education encourages learning through building.

Rather than printing an object in its entirety, the device prints pieces of a plastic model with assembly still required.

Whether this invention is used for educational purposes in universities across the country, or in homes to create tools or other household utilities, 3D printers reflect the advancements of technology in and out of the classroom.

While we are just starting to understand the reach of 3D printing, Krueger sees it  becoming a mainstream device within the next five to ten years.

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