As technology has advanced and the times have changed, colleges across the nation have continued to upgrade and expand the availability of technologies for students; St. Kate’s is no different. Recently, the Art and Art History department purchased a 3D printer for students and faculty members to use; the printer was ordered online for just over $2,000. The Art department decided that this purchase would be a beneficial investment for St. Kate’s because they believe that all Katies should have the same opportunities as other colleges.
Kim Roth, a technician for the Art and Art History department, said, “There are a number of other schools in the area that have 3D printers, and we just felt in order to give our students the same opportunity that MCAD [Minneapolis College of Art and Design] does and the University of Minnesota does, we needed a 3D printer.”
In the same way paper printers lay ink across a page to print an image, 3D printers layer plastic across more plastic to form three-dimensional shapes. This is a little difficult to imagine, but basically, a long roll of plastic is fed into the printer and the piece that spits out the plastic heats it up to over 200 degrees Celsius. This melted plastic is then placed layer after layer to form the shape of the object that was designed on the computer program; the program St. Kate’s uses is called Rhinoceros. After one has finished creating a design, they upload the design into MakerBot where they can then size their object and export it to be printed. However, if you are interested in 3D printing something of your own, make sure to bring something to keep yourself occupied because, depending on the complexity of the object’s design, it could take several hours to be printed.
In the short time it has lived at St. Kate’s, the 3D printer has not been used much, and some of the objects have had hiccups in their construction. However, Roth believes that with more use and practice, these issues can be resolved.
“There hasn’t been that many people that have been designing something and printing it; I think we’re having a few issues with resolution on how to print stuff and since we haven’t had a lot of people making things, I haven’t had a lot of practice doing it,” said Roth.
Only time will tell what masterpieces students and faculty create using this incredible 3D printing machine, but with the amazingly creative people here at St. Kate’s, there are sure to be some great ones.
The 3D printer is available for all students to use; it is located on the second floor of the Catherine G. Murphy building in the print studio. However, if students would like to use the printer, they have to ask the front desk for the key that unlocks the gate it is behind. If you would like more information or a tutorial on how to use the printer, email Kim Roth at firstname.lastname@example.org.