In an effort to spread the word about Columbia’s new 3-D printer, Columbia University Libraries will award prizes to five contestants who submit original designs to CUL’s 3-D printing website.
The 3-D printer arrived at the Science and Engineering Library in the spring of last year. Columbia already has other 3-D printers, but this is the first one that is open to everyone at the University. Designs that will be used for research, teaching, class work, or other learning activities will be favored.
Printing a 3-D model can take anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours, depending on the surface area and density of the object.
“The 3-D printer came about as part of an effort to get more people to use the software that we have on these computers, and we provide a lot of high-end software for research activities and teaching,” said Jeffrey Lancaster, GSAS ’11 and emerging technologies coordinator of CUL.
William Falk-Wallace, CC ’14, submitted a “Ball-in-Cage” design that was inspired by an ancient puzzle featuring a ball trapped inside a rectangular prism.
He had already designed a wood carving of the model and printed two in 3-D elsewhere, but he said he wanted to print another using the new 3-D printer.
“I have plans for other projects. I am into electronics and I want to make some prototypes of some hardware designs I have, like cases and enclosures,” Falk-Wallace said. “Printing that enclosure and being able to print it really cheap, really fast, and really easily is why it’s so cool.”
Mikhail Bayder, a systems engineer at the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning, submitted a bust sculpture of a warrior for the contest. He teaches a class in educational game design at Teachers College.
“Let’s say you are doing game characters, so as part of the process you need to print it and take a look at it in three-dimensional. You can look at it on the screen, but it’s not the same as a three-dimensional print,” Bayder said.
Students do not have to win the contest to get their designs printed. Any Columbia affiliate can submit designs, even those that are not original, to be printed for free. The submission begins with a discussion about the design so that students can learn more about 3-D printing.
“I think that the 3-D printer can definitely be helpful. We used 3-D printing in Airplane Club a couple of years ago to make a water tank for our plane. I typically use the one in the MechE lab,” Rosie Murray, SEAS ’15, said. “It’ll be a good thing too for students who aren’t engineers to have access to, especially for those into art because it can help you visualize things in a different way when you are able to prototype it quickly.”
Winners will be selected at random and can receive an Arduino Starter Kit, a single-board microcontroller; a quadcopter, a microcopter that has four propellers to fly it; or a Raspberry Pi, a single-board computer the size of a credit card. The contest won’t judge the quality of designs, and the contest will be open to all students, faculty, and staff.
“There are a number of libraries across the country that are looking into Makerspaces and getting things like 3-D printers, 3-D scanners, laser cutters, and other such technologies in the libraries to actually make and do things,” Lancaster said. “For us, the 3-D printer fits into the new role of what the library can be and will be moving to the future.”