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3D Printer at UM Library Lets Students Get Creative

Ole Miss students can now print 3D objects up to the size of a basketball with a special printer at the J.D. Williams Library on campus. With a 3D scanner on the way, the plan is to eventually open use of the printer and scanner to the public. 

Sean O’Hara, program coordinator at the library, is in charge of testing the new technology and getting it ready for use. 
“Our point is for people to come in with an idea and leave with something in their hands,” O’Hara said. “You mess with technology in an experimental setting, and you figure out how to take the next step.”
The scanner comes on an iPad that students will be able to check out, so they can scan objects outside of the library. But as of now, all scanning must be done through the same Wi-Fi the printer is connected to.
The printer uses a material called polylactic acid, or PLA, to create the 3D objects. It is a plant-based, biodegradable thermoplastic.
The printer itself is stationed in the new unnamed lab/meeting area on the first floor of the library. As for cost, the most expensive printing job will be around $13, with the average cost being between $1 and $5.

Sean O’Hara, coordinator of the J.D. Williams Library

Students are already excited about the role the printer will play in their curriculum.
“There’s so much stuff I’ll be able to use it for,” said senior Elizabeth Thompson, a forensic chemistry major with a double minor in biology and anthropology. “I’m really excited about the possibility of being able to recreate bones of skeletons from across the world. With this technology, I’ll be able to do things people before me at Ole Miss couldn’t accomplish.”
So far, the printer has successfully created several detailed items to scale, including the library itself and the Millennium Falcon from “Star Wars.”
Danny Howell, who serves in the Army ROTC program at Ole Miss, believes the printer will be a huge help.
“We use models to explain many of the concepts we implement in the lab and in the field,” Howell said. “Having access to a 3D printer would allow me to create specific models to better explain these vital concepts.”
People can use the printer for things unrelated to class as well. Students are encouraged to think of creative, innovative new ideas to bring to the lab and try out.
“The lab will be a great meeting space for start-up companies to come together and brainstorm,” O’Hara said. “Really, anyone with an idea can come in and try it out. You don’t need to have experience. That’s what’s so great about it. It’s just an opportunity to play with a 3D printer.”

By Carly Owen, an intern for HottyToddy.com.
For questions or comments, email hottytoddynews@gmail.com.

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