Students excited for MakerBot Innovation Center

Students in the Department of Art and Design and the Fashion Merchandising Design program are excited to be the first Michigan university to have a MakerBot Innovation Center.

The lab of 3-D printers will be located in Wightman Hall Room 143. If the remodeling does not occur this summer, the process will be delayed until next summer. The center will provide students with access to 3-D printers in independent study and their coursework. The $350,000 project is funded by the Office of the Provost, College of Communication and Fine Arts and College of Education and Human Services.

“It’s an
interesting and different way to make sculptures or make prototypes of
sculptures,” said Fraser native Kenzie Eddy, a junior in the graphic design department.
“It’s also interesting for expanding designs into 3-D, making an artist think
about that design differently to bring it into physical form.”

Lowell senior
Anna Scudder, a fashion merchandising and design student, said 3-D printers are
useful for prototypes and patterns and can also be used for shoes.

“We never
thought to use (this technology) for fashion, and now we’re going to think of
new, innovative ways to use it and hopefully that sparks other things too,”
Scudder said. “For any degree, using that technology is going to set us apart
from other colleges.”

With access to this new technology, students will be able to think of and experiment with new ways to create artwork and other 3-D materials. Michigan State University and the University of Michigan have open 3-D printing labs, but not nearly on the same scale as the MakerBot center. The technology is spread throughout several departments at Western Michigan University.

“For our industry, people are so on top of wanting to try the new thing, so if there’s this technology, then there’s definitely going to be people who take advantage of it,” Scudder said.

Harbor Springs
graduate student Jennise Thurston is using CMU’s existing 3-D printers for her independent study. She said more printers will speed up the time it takes to complete projects.

“I think the Innovation Center will be really neat. I’m working on
a neckpiece and I’m going to have to print multiple copies,” Thurston said.
“It’s probably going to take 30 hours just to print one, so having multiple
printers that can be printing at the same time will definitely help.”

Though it takes several hours to print one object, the machine can load multiple student files at a time and run unsupervised all day. The plastic used in printing is relatively inexpensive and contains enough material for many uses before a replacement purchase would have to be made.

Thurston said many fashion merchandising and design students will be able to make accessories with the new printers.

“It’s definitely
in line with what the fashion industry is doing and 3-D printing kind of hit a
boom last year so it’s just taking off,” Thurston said. “I’m really excited
about it.”

She said she
doesn’t think students at many other universities have experimented much with
the new technology, so CMU students will obtain a useful skill set.

“It’s really exciting to design something and then immediately see it and watch
the process of printing,” Thurston said. “It definitely offers a new avenue for
creativity rather than just using beads or fabric to make something.”

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