Tag Archives: academic library makerspace

Instrumental Analysis with 3D Printers

Gravitational potential well

For the last 3 years, Professor Deanna Donohoue has included 3D printers with her instrumental analysis chemistry course. In addition to 3D printers, students use other innovative tools such as Arduinos. For the 3D printing portion, students receive training and access to the space and are instructed to print a chemistry-related object from the Journal of Chemical Educationthe NIH 3D print exchange, or a general 3D object repository like Thingiverse.

After completing a print, students answer the following questions:

  • How can we use 3D printers with other instruments or instrument development?
  • Draw a black box model of the 3D printer. Include the computer and steps involved on the computer.
  • Find an application of 3D printing that you think is interesting.
  • Find a scientific publication which uses an instrument made with a 3D printer, or has parts from a 3D printer.

The students are encouraged to think of the printers as they would any other laboratory tool or equipment. This approach as a scientific instrument gives the students beneficial insight and understanding when it comes to troubleshooting. Professor Donohoue described these printers as exciting tools to allow for citizen science as well as creating inexpensive custom tools that allow for previously cost-prohibitive field work.

Carbon nanotube

Cuvette stand

Makerspace Updates for Winter Term

Signs with QR code and shortened URL to 3D printer reservation forms and calendars were placed near each printer.

We have a few exciting updates for the makerspace for winter term.

  • Reserving 3D printers: We’ve implemented a much easier method that uses a combination of Google Forms, the add-on Data Director for Forms, and Google Calendar to reserve the 3D printers and display availability. QR codes and shortened URLs placed near each printer are helping students to quickly see what’s available and make reservations.
  • Makerspace Club updates: The student makerspace club has been paired with a child in need of a prosthetic hand through e-Nable and has begun planning the creation of the custom prosthetic.
  • GlowforgeWe’ve placed our order for a Glowforge laser cutter and hope to receive it this summer.
  • Winter term training: Open training sessions are scheduled for Mondays at 2:30 pm and Thursdays at 11 am.
  • New furniture and space reorganization: We’ve moved some stuff around to make student projects in process storage more visible- and we’re trying out stools on wheels for more flexible seating. Let us know what you think!

    Our mini soldering station with the new rolling stool. We may fill the space with these.

    Bookshelf near the makerspace entrance for student projects in process.

Innovation and Prototyping in the Makerspace

Green Plantern created by I&E students Brandon Polanco, Gus Lowry and George Mavrakis

Students from the Innovation and Entrepreneurship course, In Pursuit of Innovation have spent a lot of time in the makerspace this term creating prototypes for some excellent products.

  • We’ve had students combine 3D printing and sewing for a portable shelter,
  • sew a prototype of a more comfortable sports bra,
  • 3D print a prototype compost bin design that makes composting fun for kids
  • design and create belt packs made from new types of durable materials
  • 3D print a prototype aeroponic planter and cut out the logo with the vinyl cutter

The last project listed has even been made into a Kickstarter project! Be sure to check out the Green Plantern by AIRO. The effort and thought put into this project is very impressive. They hope to make indoor gardening more accessible through their compact aeroponics system.Their campaign runs until December 24, 2017.

Academic Library Makerspace FAQs

We get asked questions about setting up an academic makerspace by colleagues from other libraries and universities fairly often, so we thought it would be helpful to compile these into a list!

How did you fund your makerspace?

The large pieces of equipment were purchased from a grant from the ACM. Smaller pieces such as the Silhouette Cameo and sewing machine were added as money became available from the library media budget. The minor space renovation was covered by the campus administration. Our Technology Services department has been very helpful in covering upgrades for our makerspace 3D design computers.

Do you charge students for filament/3D printing?

No, we don’t pass any of the makerspace costs on to our students. We’ve been able to cover costs for consumables with funding from our grant and the library media budget. We are hoping that students who want to use the makerspace equipment for many or large non-academic projects will work with the makerspace club to pay for consumables. The club is still in its early stages of planning and budget creation.

Matt Sonnenberg from the UW Stevens Point library came up with a pricing model that bills students directly to their student accounts. He came to visit us to talk about 3D printing in libraries and talks about it in his presentation. The UWSP library does have a different printing model, however, in that they do the printing for the students.

Do you 3D print for students/faculty/staff?

Only rarely. Our major goal for the makerspace is to provide access to the whole process of making- from design to a finished object. We train anyone who is interested in 3D printing how to use the printers and offer assistance when needed.

Is the space available for non-academic use?

While the purpose of the makerspace to support students’ academic work, students are permitted to do small non-academic projects. We feel that any exposure to the equipment and software in the makerspace is educational and a great experience. We’ve also observed that many students return later to use the makerspace for a senior capstone or honors project, or when they’ve thought of a way to use the equipment for a course assignment.

Who works in your space?

The space is managed by a librarian, training and machine maintenance responsibilities are shared between the librarian and an instructional technologist. A student media assistant will provide machine maintenance and troubleshooting on occasion, but usually works with the non-makerspace equipment located in the shared space. A committee of faculty and staff meets occasionally to share new ideas related to the makerspace and coursework.

What equipment is in your space?

See our equipment and tool list and our guide for lists and information about our equipment.

How do people access your makerspace?

Students, faculty, and staff must attend a training session to gain card access to the space. Only those who have attended a training session are permitted to use the equipment. Training sessions are offered during set times during the week as well as when requested, such as during class time for professors who bring in a whole class.

Who uses the space?

This list of assignments gives a pretty good overview of the multidisciplinary use of our space. Statistics compiled between fall term 2015 and winter term 2017 (we have trimesters here) are available to view. It’s available for the whole campus.

Do you gather statistics?

The statistics are gathered by recording class usage and assignments, as well as asking individual student users to indicate their intentions for using the space and course subject of assignment. General usage statistics are gathered by having users add to a machine-specific usage log each time they use the machines.

How do you work with students/professors?

We do outreach through open houses, workshops, word of mouth, social media, etc. to spread the word across campus. We invite professors to meet with us to talk about ways to integrate the makerspace equipment into their courses- or just to send students to us who they think could benefit from the makerspace for an assignment or senior project. We also work with individual students who want to use the space for a project.

How big is your makerspace?

About 460 square feet. It is a re-purposed space that still contains our old media center digital converting equipment and much of the space’s original furniture and cabinetry. It seemed very “makery” to use what we had available along with some creativity to build our first makerspace.

How do students reserve the equipment?

Each piece of reservable equipment has an Outlook calendar. Students sort of make appointments with the equipment when they need to use it. This works well because these appointments have to be approved by the makerspace manager- who can then alter the times, ask questions, or make suggestions. It is a little tricky for the students to figure out and doesn’t allow for easy to access or embedded calendars. We’ve been looking into possibly using youcanbook.me like the ACU Maker Lab or LibCal.

What software do you use?

The software we work with in the makerspace is listed on our guide. Mostly, everyone uses Tinkercad for design and Cura for slicing. Some students have advanced from Tinkercad to Fusion 360. Like Tinkercad, it’s an AutoDesk product, but it’s not totally free. They do offer a free educational license for 3 years. It seems to work pretty seamlessly with Tinkercad too. We have used Meshmixer to try to modify and repair scans (like an MRI scan a professor brought in) with some success.

The non 3D printing software is mostly proprietary stuff that came with each piece of equipment. For example, Silhouette Studio for the Silhouette Cameo cutter, Scanify for the Fuel 3D Scanner.

Still have questions? We might have answered it in our presentation at LibTech 2017. If not (or if you just want to talk about makerspaces) we’d be happy to chat with you! Just send us an email or give us a call at 920-832-6700.