The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday January 20th

Pit Talk

The future is here: Free 3-D printing services for UNC students

Imagine having the power to create anything you desire. The world is yours, as long as that world is within a 12 x 12 x 12 in. dimension and isn’t technically a weapon.

That’s the catch for when you want to take advantage of the free access to 3-D printing services at the Makerspace Research Hub in the Kenan Science Library. UNC Libraries was endowed by two grants last year providing students this opportunity and is continuing to fund the program for the 2015-2016 academic year. The future is here! 

Source: The Daily Crate

Other resources include 3-D design software for the professional and the curious beginner alike, editing and repair software like the MeshLab to create minuscule triangular “Band-Aids,” and even a 3-D scanner for both physical objects and 2-D photos so you can, in theory, make your best friend into a miniature action figure. 

Want to know what else is up? Biology majors, you can print your favorite protein at Makerspace in just four easy steps.

First-year Mark Burnett, a biomedical engineering prospect, said he hasn’t used the printers because you can’t just send the file and pick it up. In other words, it's inconvenient. 

This resource isn’t just limited to academic-oriented ambitions. As long as a student is willing to endure a consultation meeting with faculty to prepare for your design and to get help on research and development options, any student can jump right into the process with any goals in mind. 

“If I could, it might be cool to print a 3-D Tar Heel logo, since it’s representative of the school” said first-year Tyler Hunt. “But I have never actually used or seen (the printers).” 

Lydia Shiel, a first-year as well, said she would rather make an emu sculpture for her dorm’s desk to liven the place up. 

Junior Seth Cox said he is interested in making an umbrella because he's tired of getting wet all the time. 

Not a lot of students, however, know of this opportunity.

“No one told me about it and I don’t know if it’s free or not,” senior Sam Rains said. After he discovered the no-cost availability of the 3-D printers, Rains said he could make everything that he needs in real life. 

The limitations of the machines are really self-imposed because of the time commitment to consultation and designing for each product.

Students wanting to take advantage of the Makerspace Research Hub’s resources shouldn’t wait, because a) creativity is fleeting and b) once the endowment allotted for this academic year runs short, UNC Libraries will start charging for the process. 

Basically, if I want to make my own Ryan Switzer bobble head in honor of that beautiful 89-yard flea flicker that ignited UNC to silence Dook last Saturday, I should get moving.


To discover more, get in touch with your friendly neighborhood librarian at Kenan Science, or visit UNC Libraries’ online hub for 3D printing along with information on designing on your own computer. Lastly, all pizza lovers (i.e. college kids) should check this out!

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