By Catherine Stevens
Oregon State has a new resource at its disposal, a 3D printer. Historically a prohibitively expensive technology, it is now possible for any OSU student or faculty or staff member to make their own designs come to life in just hours and, for only a few dollars.
The printer is located in the Learning Commons area of the Valley Library and is available to all students regardless of major (another one exists in the Electrical Engineering building). The printer, a Makerbot Replicator 2, cost around $2,500 and was paid for by donations.
The library has instructions on its website for how to get started printing. It uses eight different colors of polylactic acid, or PLA, which is a type of plastic used in 3D printing and comes wrapped up like a spool of thread. The first print is free, while all subsequent ones cost 10 cents per gram of PLA and support material used. According to Margaret Mellinger, a professor and engineering librarian at the Valley Library, “an owl two inches high would cost about 60 cents.”
So far, students have used the printer to create projects for personal use and engineering classes. Head over to the library to check out this unique offering at OSU, or you can feed your voyeuristic tech needs by watching the livestream of what the printer is currently making on the library’s website.