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7/25/2014 3:23:59 PM

AALL 2014: Something Out of the Ordinary at the Mid-America Chapter Luncheon

I've long been curious about 3D printing, and thanks to the speaker at the Mid-America Association of Law Libraries (MAALL) chapter luncheon at AALL 2014, I learned a lot.

The speaker, Mark Barnett, coordinates Geekbus, a mobile science-eduation lab for K-12 students in San Antonio. He said that 3D printing has been around since 1984, but is now getting more exposure because the patent has expired. His printer cost around $2,000, and some think that within 10 years printers will cost $500-800 and will become common household items.

Mark described how his students use CAD software (the same as used by architects and engineers) to design items to print in plastic. Other printers can print with metals, but those are much more expensive. Unfortunately, the printer couldn't be demonstrated during the lunch because it got out of calibration in transit, but just to see the machine itself up close was interesting.

Below is a side view of the printer. On the right is the green plastic, which is fed into a heated chamber and melted. Some printers have color ink cartridges, but this one doesn't.

Below is a front view. On the tray is a spiky bracelet that was designed by a student. The mechanism dispensing the melted plastic goes back and forth, creating distinctive layers in the printed items. (The stuffed animals are MAALL mascots Marbury and Madison.)

Posted By Colleen Williams at 7/25/2014 3:23:59 PM  0 Comments