By Tanner Mondok
In the last decade, 3-D printing has become more popular and many universities have been purchasing the technology. Because of that, it has become a unique method for education and research across the country.
At Youngstown State University, there are several 3-D printers located in Bliss Hall, Moser Hall and Williamson Hall.
The most accessible 3-D printing lab on campus is the Launch Lab located in the Williamson College of Business Administration. Any student or faculty member can stop by the lab and get ideas they have printed, for free, thanks to the help of the students who work there.
John Bordell, graduate assistant and Launch Lab coordinator, said that Launch Lab is a great resource that all students should utilize.
“We can help you design your part as well as do aesthetic work on it,” he said. “If you need any counseling on design or how the design looks … we can print multiple prototypes for you.”
Bordell said they are willing to work with any ideas that the students have for things they wish to create.
“It doesn’t have to necessarily be a viable business idea. It can be just something they’re playing around with,” Bordell said. “For example if you want to put your head on Batman’s body, we can scan someone’s head and make a 3-D model of it and a 3-D model of Batman and stick their head on it.”
In regards to what other universities are doing in other parts of the country, Bordell said that at Launch Lab they’re doing something new and there isn’t a specific model that they can attempt to duplicate.
“There’s 3-D printing labs in every university in the country but the difference with Launch Lab is that it’s geared towards business students,” he said. “I think there’s only one other 3-D printing lab that functions as a part of a business college that I know of in the states and it’s in Illinois.”
Robert Twomey, assistant professor of Digital Media, works with the 3-D printers in the Launch Lab and Bliss Hall and said that 3-D printing is highly accessible at YSU. He also said that the university offers plenty of opportunities for students.
Twomey added that he is doing a series of workshops this spring on 3-D printing which are open to students, faculty and staff.
“It’s been a way for people who aren’t in our program in the art department to start to learn about the techniques and have access to the equipment,” he said.
Cory Brozina, director of the First Year Engineering program, said that he just received four 3-D printers for the purpose of educating first year engineering students on 3-D printing.
“They are exclusively for first year engineering students and we just got them recently. It’s pretty exciting. This semester, students are working on a design project with OH WOW!” he said. “What they’re doing is they’re trying to design new exhibits to showcase an engineering principle. As part of the project they have to 3-D print something.”
Other than those four 3-D printers in Moser, there is another printing lab located in a different area of the building as well. Bordell said that the Center for Innovation in Additive Manufacturing is used for staff and faculty research.
“What they’re doing is researching different materials and different engineering techniques. So they might print something out of ABS, just a thin strip of it, and do testing on it to figure out the strength and integrity of the materials just to try and figure out what applications it can be used for,” he said. “This is a new field and we are all the tip of the spear in creating new and innovative ways to do this.”