3D Printing Expo Showcases New Technology Available For Use by Students, Faculty, and Staff

Center for Educational Technology Sees Many Academic Applications for 3D Printing at Trinity

​Hartford, Connecticut, April 6, 2016 – Trinity College’s Center for Educational Technology recently hosted a 3D Printing Expo to showcase the new technology and highlight its potential uses on a liberal arts campus. The March 8 Expo featured demonstrations of the MakerBot 3D printers and a 3D scanner which are currently available for use by the Trinity community free of charge for small jobs. The equipment was donated by Trinity Parent Directors the Graham family. Three printers are operating in a temporary location at the Center for Educational Technology, located in room 105 of the Raether Library and Information Technology Center.

Educational Technology is inviting professors from a wide range of departments to create projects and assignments that can make use of 3D printing. Members of a Classical Studies class on Greek and Roman history have already used a 3D printer to create a model of the Temple of Apollo, which is housed in a display case near the library’s circulation desk. Additionally, three mechanical engineering students printed a 3D model of the Trinity College Chapel by first inputting detailed information from the building’s blueprints.

Instructional Technologist David Tatem said that the MakerBot 3D printers use polylactic acid as their printing medium. The soy-based plastic is more environmentally-friendly than other printing plastics, Tatem said, and does not produce harmful fumes. The total print time varies based on the size and complexity of the object being created. For example, a small section of chain link takes about 20 minutes, while the model of the Chapel took more than 20 hours.

Students also have used the 3D printers to create small figurines and robotic parts. Users can select pre-digitized objects to print from MakerBot’s online “Thingiverse,” create digital designs for 3D objects from scratch, or scan an object to be digitized and printed.

According to Professor of Engineering Joseph Palladino, the Engineering Department has been using 3D printers for rapid prototyping for about five years, and has owned a 3D printer for about three years. Palladino said the 3D printer allows designs to be tested before being machined in metal or other materials. “The thing that’s exciting is, if you can draw it, you can make it,” he said. Bioengineering students have used the 3D printer to build mechanical prosthetic hands, and Palladino anticipates many more uses for this technology in the future.

For more information about 3D printing at Trinity, visit the Center for Educational Technology’s website, or visit the Center and meet with a Student Technology Assistant.

Written by Bhumika Choudhary ’18 and Andrew J. Concatelli